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Tribe Fest Review

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Tribe Fest

A winter event the Cleveland Indians have held in the past which I enjoyed was Tribe On Tour. Several players, the manager, broadcasters, mascots, and the Fun Bunch made their way to a few different malls across northeast Ohio to sign autographs, allow for photographs, and answer questions from interested fans.

This year the organization announced it would not be holding the mall tour. Instead, the Indians introduced Tribe Fest, a more elaborate version of Tribe On Tour held in the basement area of Progressive (Jacobs) Field.

Though I enjoyed the mall tour, mainly because it was free as opposed to a $10 charge, Tribe Fest sounded much better in theory for a few reasons. First, Tribe On Tour was only held at each venue for only a few hours while Tribe Fest was slated to run for an entire afternoon into the early evening.

Secondly, the main attraction for Tribe On Tour was the autograph session with the players. As a result, in addition to the short amount of time, fans had to arrive two hours before the event began to ensure a good spot in line and a timely exit.

Finally, there was only so much a mall event had to offer. Holding the event at Progressive Field appeared to solve all of the problems I just mentioned. Tribe Fest boasted autograph sessions which ran for the entire duration of the event, photograph opportunities, baseball skills clinics for children to attend, and full access for self-guided tours of the Indians clubhouse. Tom Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus conducted interviews with players, alumni Mudcat Grant and Tito Francona, and Chris Antonetti. The team barber even gave interested fans their own personalized haircuts.

I purchased tickets for myself and one of my friends to attend the Sunday session of Tribe Fest. Despite hearing and reading reports over social media that the Saturday event was overly crowded and horrendously unorganized, I kept the faith that Tribe Fest would still be worth my time and money.

After seeing pictures on twitter of a lengthy line outside Gate A before they were opened, my friend and I made sure to arrive more than a half hour early. Unfortunately with Sunday came an extreme drop in temperature, making for a very frigid wait. Luckily those in charge of the event made the decision to have mercy on those of us who arrived early and allowed us to enter a warmer tunnel until the noon start time.

As Tribe Fest began it was clear the problems from the day before were addressed. Tickets were handed out for each autograph session as opposed to fans in attendance flocking to the area. Upon arriving to the autograph area, staff members stood by, directing attendees to a designated line. Also, to avoid terribly long lines, players listed in back to back sessions on the program were included in two sessions in an effort to prevent fans from missing their favorite players.

At first glance everything seemed well organized. My friend and I quickly made our way through the first autograph session with Nick Hagadone, Corey Kluber, and Lonnie Chisenhall, who was a last second replacement for Carlos Santana, who chose to move to another session.

Next we moved on to the clubhouse tour, which was an impressive sight. I came to find out why Jason Kipnis and Vinnie Pestano get along so well.

Jason Kipnis and Vinnie Pestano are locker neighbors.

Jason Kipnis and Vinnie Pestano are locker neighbors.

Thanks to my friend who holds a Key Bank card, we were allowed access to the KeyBank Lounge (the visitor’s clubhouse), which provided food and other autograph sessions, first with rookie pitcher Cody Allen and next with Jason Kipnis. I was relieved to find out Kipnis would be signing in the Key Lounge because his group session was scheduled for the same time as the Tribe Fest Tweetup, held in the Terrace Club, which I was set to attend. Kipnis is one of my favorite players and, after missing out on his autograph at Tribe On Tour last year, I was determined to get the chance to finally meet him at Tribe Fest.

Kipnis

The Tweetup, attended by those who RSVP’d by email earlier in the week, was host to a Town Hall gathering atmosphere. Mark Shapiro and Terry Francona addressed the crowd while fielding questions from the fans. Excellent insight was provided. In addition I saw many familiar faces from the social media spectrum and matched some new people to the twitter names as well. Overall the two men in charge of the team appeared to leave those who attended the Tweetup with a positive outlook.

ShapiroFrancona

From this writer’s perspective, Tribe Fest was a complete success. There was something for every one of the fans to enjoy at their own pace. I did not get to experience everything the event had to offer. However, that was of little concern to me.

Because I did not attend Saturday’s event, I am not personally aware of the problems that were reported by those who did. But from what I gathered from those I met who were there on Saturday, it was a distinct improvement. There were attendees who still felt the event on Sunday was too crowded. However, large crowds have never been a problem to me.

I am thankful to the Cleveland Indians organization for holding Tribe Fest instead of the mall tour that I attended the last two years. It was well worth the $10 price of admission and I hope it lasts for many years to come.

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Tribe Social Forum Review

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The Cleveland Indians PR department outdid itself again with the Tribe Social Forum

It is no secret that the Cleveland Indians baseball team is not a good one this season. Its public relations team, however, has been excellent. 

Social media has taken the world by storm over the course of about the last six years. What started as a small network restricted to college students has developed into a worldwide phenomenon. Now professional sports are becoming involved in social media. From front office executives all the way down to players, sports organizations are becoming involved in an effort to better connect with their fans. Perhaps none more so than the Cleveland Indians.

Many members of the Indians organization have been heavily active on Twitter this season, providing their followers with vital information ranging from daily team news all the way down to in-game updates. Their biggest development, however, was Tribe Social Deck, which allowed fans involved in social media to view an Indians game from a new perspective.

Last night the organization took another step toward social media immortality with the Tribe Social Forum, held in the Champions Suite of Progressive Field. For only $50, fans were given the opportunity to observe and participate in a question and answer session with a four member panel, overseen by Indians PR representatives, including vice president Bob DiBiasio, who served as mediator.

Current Tribe general manager and soon to be President Mark Shapiro began the forum with a short statement about the organization’s social media efforts and took questions of all types from the audience. He proclaimed that the team will continue to develop its already strong social media presence, stating that it is important to connect with fans.

Say what you will about Mark Shapiro. After hearing what he had to say last night, I strongly feel he understands the importance of connecting with the fans. Since the audience was not handpicked by the hosts and panel members, anybody could have come in off the streets and blasted Shapiro for the state the franchise. This fact alone shows that the Indians are willing to take risks to become connected with its paying customers at a greater level.

After Shapiro’s session concluded, Bob DiBiasio presented the four person panel with a series of questions regarding social media, both on a professional and personal level. The general consensus was that different levels of discretion should be used by social media users, depending on the purpose. For instance, those who use social media to search for a job should refrain from using disparaging remarks toward companies. Above all else, the importance of two-way communication was heavily stressed throughout the forum.

Once the forum (and the late afternoon rainstorm) concluded, those who attended the forum were invited to stay and watch the Indians take on the Los Angeles Angels from the Champions Suite at the stadium. They were treated to an “all you can eat” buffet, as well as dessert from the Terrace Club. In addition, public relations representatives Curtis Danburg and Rob Campbell (@tribetalk on Twitter) stayed at the suite for the duration of the game to socialize with the attendees. Bob DiBiasio himself also returned to the suite late in the game.

The highlights of my experience were having the opportunity to ask Mark Shapiro the only question he fielded pertaining to roster matters, having casual baseball discussions with DiBiasio, Campbell, and Danburg at various points throughout the game, and finally, exchanging high-fives with all three men in celebration as the Indians won the game in walk-off fashion.

After attending the Tribe Social Forum, as well as watching a game from the Tribe Social Deck earlier this season, I can only wonder what other pro sports organizations go to such lengths to connect with their fans on a deeper level like the Indians. The Cleveland Indians may be a team in a state of disarray at the moment. But while front office members continue their work to turn the franchise around, the public relations team is revolutionizing the social media aspect of professional sports.

 Credit for image: mlb.com

Written by apokorny

September 17, 2010 at 6:57 pm