As the temperature and humidity begin their annual ascent into pressure-cooker territory, in Jupiter, Florida, the Miami Marlins are donning eye-black and dusting off their gloves in preparation for the upcoming season. Hope springs eternal every March, when spring training begins and fans everywhere can rejoice in baseball’s true tabula rasa; where last year’s errors are forgotten, the sting of missed opportunities have long-since softened and excitement surrounds a summer brimming with possibilities. For the Marlins, this involves a monolithic PR and rebranding campaign that began with the shedding of their former ‘Florida’ moniker to assimilate with the local community, and invigorate a lukewarm fan base with historically lethargic leanings regarding the hometown team.
The main focus for the Marlins: get fans in the stands. Sparkling new Marlins Park, the Bentley of ballparks (compared to its ill-equipped predecessor Sun Life Stadium), highlights Miami’s rebranding efforts. Complete with a tropical fish-tank behind home plate and a very ‘Miami’ homerun feature that embodies the art-deco, retro-feel of South Beach, the Marlins are making no bones about their locational roots and culture. Factor in the stadium’s new location in the Miami-Dade area and the ball club has made a long-overdue statement as to their identity: they are not Florida’s team, they are Miami’s team. With 15,000 advance season tickets already sold, the most since 2002, it appears to be working.
Throw into the mix the overhauled uniforms and this past weekend’s FanFest event (which 40,000 attended) and you’ve got extremely overworked public relations and marketing departments. An undertaking this massive requires hardline dedication and leadership, but for Miami, the efforts are already paying off in spades. There is a palpable excitement in the ocean air. Enthusiastic fans are x’ing the days on their calendars until Opening Day. Establishing an identity and motivating the local population has created a feeling of excitement in Miami, and as many fans hope, will translate into marks in the win-column come April.
Local involvement is important in any public relations arena, and speakers, authors and experts will benefit by taking a page out of (pun alert) the Marlins playbook. Engaging with your immediate neighbors and counterparts is one of many steps in generating a backyard-buzz that will create national attention. Immersion in the city’s culture and lifestyle has finally given the South Florida faithful something intrinsically ‘Miami’ to rally behind, and the Marlins’ PR folks have shown the power of utilizing the local identity to their advantage.
PR/PR Public Relations