To this point, I’ve really only focused on football on this blog. Ironically, football is a sport I am becoming less interested in as the years go by. Something that has caught my attention lately is baseball and specifically the way minor leagues attempt to get your butt in their seats.
The Minor league baseball system consists of 176 teams spanning 15 leagues across North America. As a result of having so many leagues and teams, in 2014 MiLB reported over 40 million turnstiles were walked through. Needless to say, that’s a lot of competition for your viewership. To draw your attention, teams will often host promotional nights as incentives for you to come out. In between your run of the mill dollar beer or bobblehead giveaway nights, organizations will sometimes come up with genius publicity stunts.
Throughout last year, for example, Star Wars Nights were raging across the nation in anticipation of the movie. Many teams even went so far as to include one-off uniforms for the night. Teams will often try to draw your attention in using any and all popular culture references. 2015 was the year the movie Back to the Future II traveled to and many organizations took advantage of that opportunity for promotional purposes. Holidays were no exception. One of the most outrageous promotions I have ever heard of came out of Lake Elsinore, Calif. in 2011, when on Cinco de Mayo, The Storm hosted “Charlie Sheen-co de Mayo.”
Promotional nights in the minor leagues aren’t always just wacky stunts to get you to come out and attend a game. They can also be used to promote good causes and raise awareness of issues. In 2014, The Myrtle Beach Pelicans won 2014 MiLB promotion of the year for its Prostate Cancer Awareness Night that included a live prostate exam for the team’s GM during the seventh inning stretch. The event drew attention from the media sources the likes of ESPN, The Today Show, and even across the pond from The Daily Mail in England. Not only did the event promote awareness of prostate cancer, but the team raised $6,500 in support for Fallon Emery, a local ten-year-old girl who was battling brain cancer. You could say the event was a home run for everyone involved.
So get out and support your local minor league team. Chances are you live very close to at least one. Promotional schedules should be coming out soon, so you can target dates if you’re interested in a free swag bag or want to support an issue you’re passionate about.
With the help of these guys, Zika is on its way to the U.S. Photo by Cheryl Empey
I’m actually going to step away from sports for a second to touch on the rising threat of the Zika virus in the Western Hemisphere. Recently, I joined the IR Futures student club at the University of Oregon out of curiosity for corporate communications and one of the fun things about the group is that it runs a little stock exchange competition. You put one dollar down on a publically-traded company and at the end of the term whichever company sees the largest percentage worth growth wins. Many tend to stick to the large companies like Facebook, Nike, Apple, etc. but a member gave me a tip that smaller firms with higher risk might be the better play. I did some research on the health care industry and stumbled across a discussion about “investing in Zika.” With morbid curiosity, I went with a little biotechnology firm named Intrexon. Intrexon works in synthetic biology to combat health problems and is currently working on a project to genetically modify mosquitos to spread a gene that makes its offspring die young. If it weren’t for my own financial benefit, I probably would have ignored Zika until it became an issue that hit closer to home.
Zika is a mosquito-borne illness that causes those infected to experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, joint ache and pinkeye. The concern from Zika however is much more grime. Zika is reportedly linked to a rising rate of microcephaly, a birth defect that results in smaller head and brain size in babies affected, in Brazil. The Zika virus is known to be spread through mosquitos.
As far as I can remember, since the SARS outbreak in 2003 it seems as though there has consistently been at least one pandemic scare reported on in the media. We all remember the panic Ebola planted in the conscious of the U.S. Even before the first person in the U.S. was diagnosed with the disease in September of 2014, the nation was on high alert. According to the CDC however, as of January 31, 2016, only four people total have been diagnosed with the disease in the United States, with only one resulting death. Those miniscule numbers didn’t stop about 50 percent of American adults from fearing an outbreak.
Zika seems to be following the same trend as its pandemic predecessors. Right now, it’s an outside issue, but one to study up on. We can hope that a cure will come soon and we can eradicate the virus sooner rather than later. If not, it’ll be interesting to see if the tides will turn in the media and the resulting public outcry.