November 22, 2014

Autograph-Gate, Day Two

Being a PR guy myself, I can sympathize with the Dodgers current plight regarding the autograph situation at Dodger Stadium. Having T.J. Simers from the LA Times on your case can’t be pleasant, but what the situation requires is immediate action with a proposed solution. But that’s not what happened.

Simers and the guys over at the Sons of Steve Garvey blog raise similar points about the problem, which center more on the response than the actual issue of the limiting of fan access to the field boxes before the game. When the Dodgers responded to Simers, they had their relatively new Chief Marketing Officer (also known in Simers’ column as “The Dentist”) given the official comment. As the Sons of Steve Garvey note, fans just don’t know this guy. As the autograph issue at hand is viewed by fans as a lack of respect, the Club should have responded with one of their “friendly” and public faces. I would have used the McCourts, or maybe even Tommy. Nobody stays mad at Tommy!

The second problem was the response itself. Here’s what T.J. wrote:

CALLED THE Dentist, the Dodgers’ new PR guy, and he said nothing has changed for the kids, but “we’ve had vigorous debate today about it. We need more data.”

That phrase “we need more data” is the problem here. It only fans the flames of people who think that the Dodgers are somehow catering to the elitist whims of their big money season ticket holders at the expense of average fans. Now let’s be realistic, I am sure that is NOT what the Dodgers intended when they made this new rule. But when you use a sterile phrase like “we need more data” to explain anything related to a very personal and emotional issue involving kids, well, you exacerbate the situation rather than help it.

I’m sure the Dodgers will come out soon with a solution for how fans can get access to CURRENT Dodger players for autographs on an ongoing basis. It certainly doesn’t have to be via the field box seats, but it has to be something that is realistic and doable.

Finally, this is obviously a special year for the Dodgers, the city and the fans. The Club has been doing a fantastic job from a communications standpoint all year. Here’s hoping they can put this issue behind them and we can get back to focusing on what really matters: the play on the field.