On December 1, we wrote about what the Pittsburgh Pirates could learn from Lady Gaga. We reposted the article below with some updates. All we can say is what a difference six and a half months have made. The Pirates are relevantly hip again.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and Lady Gaga? I know what you’re thinking. This guy has lost his mind. Yeh. I did, a long time ago. But how does Lady Gaga have so many fans and the Pittsburgh Pirates have so few? We think a winning persona and attitude has a lot to do with it, but so does appreciating the people who are behind you. Gaga calls herself mother monster. She calls her fans–the little monsters.
What do the Pirates call their fans?
Yesterday, Neil Walker and Garrett Jones were on the X at 105.9 with Tim Benz. They were funny. They had cool stuff to say and very little of it was about the Pirates or baseball.
The conversation was more about Buffalo Bills WR Stevie Johnson blaming God for dropping the winning TD pass on Sunday. They also talked about the religious practices of the Million Dollar Arm reality show winners- who get up at 4am to worship their God…it was just generally interesting and funny banter.
And oh yeh, Walker and Jones just happened to be Pittsburgh Pirates. The bottom line was Walker and Jones were entertaining.
It was brilliant. It was simple. Did you hear it? Probably not. It was the first time I had heard Pirates players in a setting like that, and it worked. Props to the Pirates organization for coming up with such a simple idea to gain relevancy for the Pirates in the city again. I trust they plan on having teenagers Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie on a younger demo like The Freak Show soon too.
But what does Lady Gaga have to do with the Pittsburgh Pirates?
Gaga wants to dominate the world of pop music.
The Pirates want to win a World Series. So what do you think will happen first?
We think Gaga has the better shot. It takes fans to dominate anything. Before the Pirates will ever build a winner again, they need to rebuild their once large fanbase.
Gaga did it. She doesn’t have nearly the resume that the Pittsburgh Baseball Club does. So how did she get so many fans? And how did she do it so damn fast?
Social Media works. Gaga tweets her 7,232,969 followers. She has 24,000,000 million Facebook fans and growing. Her fans adore her. Many of them, like me, don’t care for her music. We just want to follow her persona, her marketing machine, because it’s a fun thing to do. It’s genius. It’s entertaining.
Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Joel Hanrahan has nearly 4,000 followers. He gets it. He is entertaining. [Hanrahan has 20,229 now]
Pittsburgh Pirates blogger Raise The Jolly Roger has nearly 1,000 followers. He gets it. He is entertaining. [RTJR has doubled to over 2,000 now]
Yet somehow, the Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t figured it out. MLB has just over a million followers. The Pirates Baseball Club cracked 3,000 followers on one account, and their more active Bucs Insider account has about 5,500 followers. [BucsInsider has tripled to over 15,000] It’s amazing how quickly social media has passed by Major League Baseball. It’s not too late for them to catch up, but the hometown ballclub has some serious work to do.
Gaga is so big that she is quitting social media (temporarily) to raise a $1 million dollars for charity. Her fans will notice she is gone for certain. Again, entertaining but with a purpose.
Screw The Labels
The Pirates are labeled losers. They have been called laughingstocks. Lady Gaga is labeled a freak. She has been called the next Madonna. We believe that people love losers and freaks. Gaga shows, she doesn’t tell. The thought process that the Pirates can’t generate more fans until they win, spend tons of money, or somehow teleport to a larger market are insanely false. [Isn't it amazing how by simply winning some baseball games this season the Pirates are relevant again? Winning cures all I guess]
Love The Monsters
Gaga’s fans are called Little Monsters. They have a greeting to identify one another- the monster claw.
How do fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates greet one another? It would be cool to have a greeting I think. And we aint talking about putting an L on our forehead either smart ass. [We had a Pirates hat on in DC recently and think that the high five and huge smiles we received from a few fans was awesome. That works as a greeting for me. Screw the monster claw.]
Gaga doesn’t allow pro photographers into her shows to film the action. Yet, she allows her fans to film the show and post their videos on YouTube. Entertaining. Engaging. [Tonight the Pittsburgh Pirates are giving full access to Pirates bloggers, in their first ever Bloggers night. We can't find a ML team that has done this at the level the Pirates are doing tonight.]
The Pirates have a large fan support base in the blogosphere, but the Pirates have no idea how to connect to blogs. Blogs are like snowboarders back in the 70′s to the Buccos. What in the hell are you doing on my ski mountain hippie? [Boy has this changed. Bloggers were invited to PirateFest shortly after this original article was posted.]
Apparently, it’s too much work for the Pirates to figure out, but it’s pretty simple for Gaga. The fans rule. She has incredible support from bloggers. One of the biggest is Perez Hilton. [It will be interesting to see how the relationship between the Pirates and the blogosphere grows this season. It currently shows no signs of stopping.]
Piss Off Some People. Gaga has this covered. She doesn’t waste time trying to change the minds of people that don’t agree with her. The Pirates have pissed off a few people too, so we think they have this covered. [The Stroll Inn controversy was an opportunity for the Bucs to stand fast in their support of the ballclub or look soft and apologize. Who looks like a fool now? Although I can't say I would have done the same thing, Frank Coonelly's decision to not apologize looked bad to some, but in his heart Coonelly is a proud man. Good for him for not backing down.]
Who wants to make everyone happy? That ends up bad. And it’s boring. The Pirates were getting quarterly letters from the Board at the Post Gazette. Now that was hilarity at its finest.
But think about this. Gaga wants to dominate the world of pop music. Her fans are going to help her achieve that goal.
The Pirates want to win the World Series. Are there enough Pirates fans to ever help them ever achieve that goal? We say yes.
Will the Pirates be able to contend for a World Series title faster if they were able to obtain a large increase in their fanbase this season? Would it be enough to generate an influx of cash that could be used for a player that gets the Bucs a player that would get them one or two more wins in 2012? It wouldn’t automatically thrust them into contention, but it would continue pushing them toward their goal.
More fans means more revenue which should constitute better players on the Pirates roster. More fans means the young talent currently under contract will get paid for their efforts or moved for even more young talent. That’s the model we would like to see used to rebuild the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The engagement between Gaga and her Little Monsters is fearless and powerful. It’s raw. The Pirates need Little Monsters. And they need them quickly.
“All that ever holds somebody back, I think is fear. For a minute I had fear. I went into the room and shot my fear in the face.” Lady Gaga
The rebuilding of the Pirates fanbase shouldn’t wait until the team returns to winning. The fanbase should be rebuilt immediately and that fanbase will assist and try to sustain a winning franchise. It’s serious work. Seriously hard work. Gaga has done it and it’s not a magic formula that only works for pop stars.
It’s as simple as following the Gaga marketing mantra we laid out. I wonder how much money it cost to send this thankful message via Twitter to seven million people?
Maybe one day Bob Nutting or even Bud Selig can do that. [Bob and Bud on Twitter, ok, now even that's over the top, but damn have the Pittsburgh Pirates changed since December of last year, in a big way, not just winning, but creating a buzz that gets louder every day.]
Follow RumBunter on Twitter because we don’t want to dominate the pop music world, but the Bucs winning a World Series again would be golden.
thanks to @jessedee for some great ideas on Gaga