The Pittsburgh Pirates are making great strides in new media. PirateFest could be an opportunity for them to grow their reach each season.

Update: The Pittsburgh Pirates and New Media


After the PirateFest event in January, we wrote the article below regarding the Pittsburgh Pirates fully embracing new media.  Now looking back eleven months later, the Pirates have made some nice strides this year.

Of course it’s doubtful the Pirates broadcasting team will ever catch on to new media which sucks as that is really their voice during the season.  We can’t help but wonder what a teenager thinks when watching a Bucco game as the boys joke about how to prounce twitter.  It really dates the ballclub and hinders the forward thinking steps the Pirates have taken to embrace new media.

But this post is really about how new media might be a game changer for the Pirates.  Well, if they continue to push the envelope it can be a game changer.  As we get closer to thousands of Bucco fans converging on the David Lawrence Convention Center this weekend for the 22nd Annual PiratesFest, the Bucs could become a face of new media in MLB.

It wouldn’t be a difficult task as baseball seems to be the slowest among professional sports to embrace the topic.

With more and more people using new media every single day, we know that more Pirates fans than ever before will be enjoy interacting with their favorite baseball players.  It’s visible everyday on twitter.  After PirateFest this past January, we took a look at what could be coming in the future if the Pirates got really agressive with new media.  It really makes me excited about the changes the Pirates might be on tap for this weekend.

But with an old school media type as the owner, maybe we are wishing for too much.  It’s hard to imagine the Pirates doing everything we suggest,  MLB limits many of the things their teams can do.

But the Pirates management team certainly gets it.  Each of them has provided unparalled access to bloggers this season.  Big kudos to them for that.  We don’t think it’s a mistake that the Pirates fanbase has grown as a result.  It’s just very cool to dream a little bit about what PirateFest could become with more forward thinking.

THE PIRATES EMBRACE NEW MEDIA AT PIRATEFEST 2011

Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle has been working the phones to recruit players to come to Pittsburgh to play for the Bucs. You gotta admit, Hurdle looks like a bad ass headhunter.

As we stood amidst thousands of Pittsburgh Pirates fans yesterday at PiratesFest 2011, it hit us. The Pittsburgh Pirates have an unbelievable ability to invigorate their fan base…..in January.

On a personal note, I am in the entertainment business and hands down, the Bucs do the business of entertainment amazingly well. When we look at what they accomplish it never ceases to amaze, but being in the business we also have some ideas that we have seen used by other organizations that could help our favorite ballclub.

The Pirates are an exciting team because of their youth. From the hustling sales team, to the front office to the players in uniform, it’s a fast organization. They seem to have fun. They look cool. They act cool. They do funny shit (watch the Joel Hanrahan invasion video we linked below for a recent example.) The organization oozes youth and talent. They also say funny shit.  Is there more the baseball side could do?  Absolutely.

“I am Jose Tabata from Venezuela and I like Black and Yellow.”

So why did PiratesFest feel so damn old yesterday? So not youth-like, so slow, so….1995?

It has grown in size each year. That’s a great thing. But could it be even bigger? We say the answer is a resounding yes.

Now, it will take some work, but we have some thoughts that might help the ballclub improve the reach of the amazing phenomenon known as PiratesFest.

What was one of the mediums used to convey information about PiratesFest? You guessed it

I enjoy Pirates baseball on the radio. Well, let me rephrase that, I enjoyed it more when Rocco DeMaro was involved. But the Pirates did have live coverage from PiratesFest on 104.7 FM.  Wonder what ratings the broadcast pulled? How connected is radio to the Pirates fanbase?

Why not allow bloggers to have an area to do a podcast from the event?

What was another one of the mediums used for PiratesFest? Yeh...

Who doesn’t love watching the Pirates on their monster TV? The Pirates had an FSN Inside Pirates Baseball special on Friday night from PiratesFest. But much more popular was the interactive FSN/ROOT telecast booth on the floor of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

It’s important to remember that the Pirates signed an attractive deal with FSN last season. The Bucs are a winner in this category. Could it improve? Sure. But that falls more on FSN and its producers than it does on the Bucs.

As it relates to PiratesFest, we say TV simply isn’t the correct medium, so it’s not a focus of this post.

But what if content was streaming on the Bucs facebook page, or bloggers were allowed to have webcams live at the Q&A?

How well did the Pirates utilize this medium?

The internet was underutilized by the Pirates at PirateFest and we aren’t sure why.

This slide still amazes us.

Despite having over 134,000 facebook friends on the Pirates facebook page, there was little content this weekend on their page which we cropped at 9:45 on Saturday night. Maybe they will update it, so we could be speaking entirely too soon, but it seems like a lost opportunity.

Why wouldn’t the Bucs try and increase sales using facebook? 95% of the comments on their wall are glowingly positive.

 

The lack of incorporating the internet, the fastest growing medium on the planet, by Major League Baseball is our million dollar question. Why does MLB lag well behind the other major sports in using social media, bloggers, etc?

It’s a question that we don’t have the answer to. But we are trying to be part of the solution.

This weekend, we asked the Bucs to do something new. Our goal was to meet some of you and thank you for visiting our site. We envisioned a bloggers row where the other Pittsburgh Pirates blogs could interact in a social setting with like minded people. We wanted to have an area to work from to provide content throughout the weekend for Pirates fans. The idea was shot down a few months ago by the Pirates.

We tried to revive and modify the concept and made a last minute effort to have some involvement in PiratesFest. Thanks to several people with the Pirates organization it worked and sure enough late this week, we received a call from Matt with the Bucs and were told that several bloggers had an opportunity to conduct interviews with several members of the organization. Most of the blogs have the content on their sites from the interviews at this time and it’s very high quality. RumBunter simply isn’t great at interviews. It’s a weakness we have.

The Q&A was great, but it wasn’t what we envisioned, but like we said on Twitter, it reminded us of getting a base on balls when the team is down by nine runs in the ninth inning.

In other words, ya gotta start somewhere. Major League Baseball doesn’t really do new media. But the Pittsburgh Pirates now do.

So what does social media have to do with being a Pittsburgh Pirates fan? If you were to guess, how many visitors does our stupid website, RumBunter, get from outside Pennsylvania? You will never guess, so let me tell you it makes up over 35% of our traffic throughout the season. We are grateful for this and thank every one of them.

But we also feel their pain. Imagine how many people from outside of Pennsylvania, and even those who simply can’t attend, but want to get their PiratesFest fix? How do they get it?

Gulp.

TV? No.

Print? Hell no.

Radio is out of reach and rather inconvenient.

So we will assume that those that don’t grab a stream off 104.7, simply say, ‘it sucks we can’t be at PirateFest’ and turn to another activity. The Pirates opportunity to connect with the fanbase is lost.

So if a Pirates fan can’t attend PirateFest how do they connect to PirateFest? You guessed it. Blogs. Facebook. Twitter.

These blogs provide an insane amount of analysis and insight and due to the efforts of Colin at PG+, BucsDugout, Raise The Jolly Roger, WHYGAVS, Pirates Prospects, Pittsburgh Sports Tavern, Pittsburgh Lumber Company, Daveon79, KristyLovesHerBuccos, and all of the other outstanding blogs on our blogroll, the Pirates fans were able to get a look inside the team this weekend.

One of the other ways fans connected was with each other through Twitter. We know we loved our Twitter feed this weekend as fans were posting pics, sharing quotes, and simply soaking up PiratesFest in all of its glory.

But imagine a concentrated effort by the Pirates to reach all of those fans with the content that exists at PirateFest but isnt captured in a medium that Pirates fans can enjoy how and when they want to enjoy it.

It’s not more TV. It’s not more radio. It’s certainly not print media (sorry Bob Nutting.) Why couldn’t the Pirates dominate new media as they did Latin America back in the day?

(Social media will also become an area of enhanced revenue generation for the Pirates in the future. Just google New York Jets social media if you want to see how far that team is taking their over one million impressions)

The hard thing for us to imagine, and I’m sure it is with the Pirates as well, is trying to imagine the growth of social media in the future. We can’t. It’s exploding beyond comprehension.

We modified a slide from the video below to describes new media and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

New media is not a fad. By the actions of the Pittsburgh Pirates this weekend, it was damn evident they understand it and are attempting to be the leader for MLB. It takes work, but the ball is rolling. Buckle up Bucco fans this could get good.

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Tags: Piratefest Pittsburgh Pirates