From the Chicago Tribune:
This baseball season “ambassadors” will be stationed at Wrigley Field. Their job: to improve the experience of Cubs fans.
The hiring of ambassadors, along with a director of fan experiences, is aimed at increasing accountability and improving fan relations, as well as opening an avenue for visitor feedback, the team announced Monday.
The program will be headed by Jahaan Blake, who served in similar positions with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. She said she isn’t sure how many ambassadors will be at Wrigley, but said in an interview Monday that they’ll also connect with children through school visits and tours of the storied stadium.
During games ambassadors will offer help like directing fans to less busy bathrooms. Also, complaints can be lodged with the ambassadors.
I don’t think it’s a huge secret that the Dodgers and Red Sox have two of the best fan-relation PRs in baseball, and as a witness to the Dodgers one, I can say it worked wonders. Before focusing on public relations, the Dodgers were battling with the Angels for fans and losing terribly–mostly because the Angels were winning and the Dodgers weren’t. Then their marketing got sophisticated. The ads were aimed at making the team the fans’ team–ads like “This is Our Town,” and so forth. The players were out in the communities, shaking hands, going to classrooms, doing functions. Even if they were only there for a few minutes and didn’t talk to anyone, it reflected on the team well and the fans ate it up.*
*As an aside, I went to one of these functions with my dad last year and he told Andre Ethier “Keep tearing it up, you’re killing for me in my fantasy baseball league!” He told that story to all his friends and everyone thought it was awesome.
The Cubs, however, are doing it because their team stinks and they have some awful contracts to deal with for a while, so this is probably the smartest move on their part. I’m a big believer in winning brings in fans, but if you can’t win, at least you can have a public relations team like this.