As I wrote in my previous post, “it’s entirely possible that the front office by now recognizes that the only thing that’s going to get the majority of Blue Jays fans to believe in and trust them is winning baseball games.” If that’s really the case, then I suppose what I’m about to write about is a non-issue. But let’s presume for a moment that the Jays do consider it at least somewhat prudent to try to, say, win the hearts and minds of the public by relating — in English (or any recognizable language, really) — things like goals, strategies, a vision, or a reason to care about the people involved with the club and to invest our emotions and our dollars in their success beyond the uniform they wear and the city the play in. In that world? I… uh… I think the club could maybe use a little help. (My consulting fee is very reasonable [makes “call me” gesture].)
Why do I say that? Because holy shit, this Toronto Star article on the Jays recent behind-the-scenes staffing changes. And more specifically, holy shit this Shapiro-esque quote from Sebastian Gatica, the club’s VP of “fan engagement” — “an area that includes business-led PR initiatives and Blue Jays social media,” Griff explains, and now what remains of the club’s PR staff as well, apparently — as he speaks about staffing changes that were made public on Wednesday afternoon:
“In recent years, our business has become more focused on engaging fans through compelling experiences, unique content and personalized service,” Gatica said. “Today’s changes reflect that evolving nature of our business as we shift to meet these needs through a new structure and resources aimed at delivering memorable experiences to our passionate fan base.”
Well then I guess that clears it the fuck up!
I feel I should point out here that while I don’t know Sebastian, he did message me last season to compliment me on a piece I had written and offered to have a beer with me, just to be able to put a face to the name, which I thought was a particularly nice gesture. And I must admit I’m probably about to be a little too harsh and too picky here — even on Shapiro, who doesn’t always speak like he’s leading a tech seminar. But… uh… what???
Like… they know that nobody understands what the fuck they’re talking about when they talk like this, right?
Even Griffin’s editor doesn’t seem to know what to do with that statement (the only quote from a Jays employee in the piece), giving the piece the hopelessly vague subheading “Team says it is more focused on engaging fans.”
Engaging fans themselves, I think that should read. As opposed to relying so much on traditional media as a conduit between fans and team? Maybe?
And that, I think, is even a somewhat kind interpretation that elides the nebulous “experiences” or the specific nature of… uh… any of it.
Granted, I’m speaking as a total layman here. I have no idea if there’s some strategy to speaking in the corporate vernacular like this or not, or if it’s just how the folks with the standing desks talk these days. And I guess I can see how there are a whole lot of positive and impactful words squeezed in there — “memorable,” “compelling,” “unique,” “personalized” — which maybe (maybe?) are more important to hit on than it is to make any kind of coherent statement in the English language. But where the hell is the “how”? What the hell “experiences” are these? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?? IN WHAT WAY DOES FIRING PR PEOPLE HELP PERSONALIZE MY SERVICE??
I know it’s just short quote about a subject the club would surely prefer not to talk about, but Shapiro talks like this sometimes too, and it always comes off as totally weird and hollow and distracting. (Is the disconnect that bizarre corporatespeak plays differently in the States, perhaps?). At least give me some straight bullshit like ol’ Paul Beeston used to do, not a bunch of words that I instantly recognize as being positive arranged into a fucking puzzle for me to decipher.
Anywho, the Jays now have a “one-person media department” which Griff says is “unique to Major League Baseball.” This, the way Griff puts it, means that longtime communications VP, Jay Stenhouse (the most visible of the club’s former PR crew; you’d see him in the background of just about any interview, press conference, etc.) now reports to Gatica, who has only been with the club since last year, when he moved over from Sportsnet to “coordinate personal affairs for Mark Shapiro” (which, as I understood it — though not from him — was basically being Shapiro’s personal PR person). Well that could make for some compelling and unique office experiences! (Or maybe I don’t have this right at all.)
Whatever the case, it still sucks that a bunch of good people lost their jobs this week, and it should be interesting to see how this all ends up working, in a practical sense, with traditional media access perhaps taking a backseat to other kinds of “engagement” and one person seemingly doing what was the job of four people.
Hey, and it looks like that’s going swimmingly so far!
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) October 12, 2017
The Jays' media dept would respond but are probably too busy creating memorable fan engagement experiences or some such word soup. https://t.co/3EPnfXGJ7b
— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) October 12, 2017
Fucking with the media is probably not the greatest long-term strategy here, you guys. (Ask JP Ricciardi). Constantly coming off like you’re trying to Rasta-fy Poochie really isn’t a much better one. Missing opportunity after opportunity to not shoot yourselves in the foot by handing fans something new to gripe about probably isn’t a great idea either.
I know staff changes after a management change are going happen sooner or later, and I acknowledge that this front office seems to be in a place where they sometimes just can’t win no matter what they do, but I dunno… it would probably be a little easier to let this stuff slide if one ever got the sense that the front office really understands the wants and needs of the fans. Or, y’know, how best to communicate to them.