I make no bones about my affinity for Major League Baseball (specifically the Atlanta Braves; Phillies fans, you’re on notice), so naturally I am counting down the hours until Opening Day this Thursday*. Note the asterisk, as the season is technically underway already. The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics played a two-game set in Tokyo last week; two official games that went unnoticed by the majority of fans, but meant worlds to baseball fanatics in Japan. MLB has been fostering their Japanese market for many years in an attempt to expand baseball support on the global scale, and it makes for an intriguing case study on audience awareness and client potential.
Above all else, Major League Baseball is a big-money business. Handshaking and cultivating relationships is an integral cog in any corporate landscape, and Bud Selig and MLB’s aim is to increase their market. Rabid baseball enthusiasts such as myself have been chomping at the bit since the last out of the World Series for the ensuing season to begin, so a ‘soft-opening’ overseas with 4 a.m. live broadcasts often goes overlooked and unappreciated. Why would the league’s decision makers tease its base with games that essentially feel and appear as no more than exhibition games? The answer harkens back to my first point: baseball is a business, and developing global connections is a fundamental aspect in its growth.
So how does this apply to your publicity aims? Do I really just enjoy discussing baseball and finding avenues to do so? (Yes, let’s talk playoff predictions, but this is actually PR-centric.) The heart of the matter is that it’s easy to neglect lucrative opportunities because they may not immediately strike you as such. We are living in a global economy, and while it’s important to connect with your base, cognizance of ‘outliers’ and ensuring your message reaches diverse outlets is imperative. We accomplish this goal for our clients with a litany of placements in varied trade and industry publications, some of which may not immediately come to mind, but pay dividends in name recognition and brand-awareness.
At the expense of a broadcast ratings loss, Major League Baseball chose to play the first official games in a foreign city in an attempt to bolster their global relationships. Down the road, this may mean a larger MLB viewership, beneficial Japanese partnerships and, dare I say, a Major League baseball team overseas. Merely preaching to the choir is a classic exercise in selling yourself short; pursue niche markets and aim for international recognition to maximize your potential for success.
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