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Volume 26 No. 22
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Social Studies: Pirates' Terry Rodgers On Trades, Fan Emotions

Pirates Manager of Business Communications & Social Media Terry Rodgers (@Pirates) grew up a fan of the team that now employs him. So he understands the range of emotions felt by the team’s fans when the Pirates traded P Gerrit Cole and CF Andrew McCutchen during the offseason. Rodgers said, “We understood it wasn’t going to be perceived well by the fanbase. But looking at the trade, we had to give the Pirates’ side of it, if you will. The return of the trade there was really good for us and it was something that was getting overlooked. So we took the approach of a 'Get To Know You' stance there.” As for McCutchen, who was one of the most popular Pirates player in the past few decades, Rodgers added, “We stopped and said, ‘This isn’t an everyday occurrence. We really need to do something bigger for Andrew.’ We took the approach of a ‘Thank You,’ started the ‘#ThankYou22’ hashtag and just give him his own night.”

SOCIAL SNAPSHOT
Must-follows: From a team standpoint, I’m going to say Trevor Williams. He’s hilarious and engages with people. In general, I like JuJu Smith-Schuster. He’s good, he’s engaging and funny, his YouTube stuff is hilarious, and he’s a young, creative kid that has really understood how to take advantage of all this.
Favorite app: In-season, it’s the At Bat app. I keep up with a lot of baseball and I’m on it probably more than I’m on my Twitter and Instagram apps. Non-baseball, I love keeping up with Mashable. I like drawing on what’s coming up next so I read a lot of tech shorts and stuff like that. 
Average time per day on social media: If the team is at home, it’s a very long day so more than 10 hours. We’re always on and my TweetDeck is always up. It never stops unless I’m sleeping or driving.

‪Dealing with the aftermath: Those trades laid the ground for us moving forward, of taking the temperature of our fanbase, understanding where they’re at and moving forward with how we should be promoting guys and leading the fans. We’re our own biggest cheerleader obviously, so it was how should we promote and steer or add to the conversation of the guys that are here and we’re very fortunate that the guys that are already in place for us are incredible guys. There was a feeling around us that the trades affected our fans on a personal level, so the only adjustments we really made were to tone down our aggressiveness, that snarkiness that we’re all trying to personalize. We had grand plans for a couple of campaigns but it was like, “Okay, maybe our fans aren’t ready for that, maybe it’s not business as usual and we adjust a little.”

Bringing the fans aboard: Connecting with our fans is our most important thing right now. We are the conduit to the team. I always liked to say growing up that you used to be able to stop a ball player at a restaurant and he’d be able to talk to you for a while. Now with the business part of it, you don’t get that aside from possibly coming down to the ballpark and getting close, but sometimes you don’t get those interactions. We like to bring those personalities across to the fans and we take a lot of ownership and pride into interacting with our fans, giving it personality, giving them a place to get their information but also just interact with the team in a one-on-one basis.

Being "Burgh Proud": With the other teams, we have incredible relationships with them not just from a social side, but from a players side. The players are consistently supporting each other and they’re all in on it because there is that camaraderie. It’s just about being "‘Burgh Proud’" where we just root for each other. If the Penguins are in the playoffs, I’m not concerned about what the blowback is going to be. No, we’re supporting the Penguins, and it’s returned.

Competing with bigger market teams: We’re on a level playing field as far as content and what we can do digitally. We’re all based on a level playing field. They may get bigger sponsorships dollars and they may have more followers, but we can compete with them on an engagement level. That’s why engaging with our fans is so important to us, because that’s where we can shine and compete at that level. We have a little bit more of an advantage than the larger markets because we can engage personally, which is something we take a lot of pride into and it’s a little easier for us to be more intimate with our fans.

If you know anyone who should be featured for their use of social media, send their name to us at jperez@sportsbusinessdaily.com.