What sports can teach corporate communicators

From the wide world of sports comes a great lesson for corporations: don’t forget your fans.

It’s been a few months since the World Series ended, but there’s a great lesson for corporations that should not be lost.

It is the simple, yet forgotten, reminder to focus your message on what your audience members care about—themselves.

This was illustrated at the end of the 2011 Major League baseball season. Watching players and management from both the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals speak to the crowd in the stadiums, they prompted the loudest fan reaction, nearly every time, when they talked about the fans.

Sure, when they talked about their teams and players and managers and how they played the games, there was an enthusiastic audience response. But when they talked about their fans, the crowds went crazy!

When Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers talked about the importance of their fans after winning the American League Championship, the Texas crowd applauded and yelled enthusiastically.

At a training session in Dallas a month later, people mentioned they distinctly remembered watching the Rangers on television and how they talked about, and to, their fans.

I noticed that the only person addressing the St. Louis crowd who did not get an enthusiastic response was team owner Bill DeWitt. He only talked about what a great comeback team the Cardinals was, even though a Fox announcer asked (twice) specifically what the World Series Championship really meant to the city.

But, when manager Tony LaRussa, slugger Albert Pujols and other team members each spoke of how great it was to bring the championship to St. Louis fans, the Redbirds’ crowd cheered loudly.

This lesson should apply to corporation leaders when talking about their companies. Spokespeople should focus not on themselves (as Cards’ owner Bill DeWitt did) but on their customers (as manager Tony LaRussa did) and yes, sometimes shareholders. This is the way to get their attention and, more importantly, make them feel like a vital part of the team.

(Image via.)

Topics: PR


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