The Rockies are good at baseball and very, very bad at public relations

I’ve just finished watching a live Internet feed of the Colorado Rockies’ “press conference” about today’s World Series ticket fiasco, and I have an announcement to make: ladies and gentlemen, the Rockies organization is — officially — completely and utterly inept.

Technical glitches can happen to anyone. But their response has been absolutely abysmal. This is a group of people with no ability to handle a crisis. None. My analogy to FEMA earlier wasn’t that far off. It’s a total nightmare from a P.R. standpoint. From head-smackingly stupid excuses (they had “no idea that so many people” would want tickets) to an utter failure to keep the public informed in any meaningful way (thus exacerbating a situation that has already caused a huge amount of fan anger), they’ve mismanaged this problem so badly that you’d really think they work for the Bush Administration or something.

But it just got even worse, as the Rockies committed the cardinal sin: pissing off the media. They summoned the entire local press corps to a 5:00 PM MDT press conference (at the top of the local news broadcasts) … then kept the reporters waiting for an hour and 15 minutes with no explanation or information whatsoever (on the live Internet feed, you could hear all the reporters talking via cell phone to their bosses, saying they had no idea what was going on) … and then, when Rockies vice president for communications Jay Alves finally emerged at 6:15 PM, he spoke for less than 90 seconds, provided absolutely no meaningful information, took about a question-and-a-half, snapped at a reporter for no apparent reason, and walked away. Unbelievable.

Here’s an audio clip. Listen to the explosion of barely controlled outrage around the 1:05 mark, when the reporters realize he’s leaving them in the lurch after making them wait for a time period about 50 times longer than the length of the press conference.


source file

Alves’s performance guarantees, if it wasn’t inevitable already, that the Rockies will get absolutely horrible press in every newspaper and on every TV station in Denver tonight and tomorrow. And he’s the P.R. guy.

It was a terrible day for the Rockies already, but that sorry excuse for a press conference just made it far worse, because now it’s personal for the press corps just like it’s personal for the fans. By keeping the reporters waiting that long, without explanation, for a totally pointless non-event, and then refusing to even make a half-assed attempt at answering their questions, he’s made every single one of them feel disrespected and annoyed, and I guarantee you their pique will come across in the stories they write and the reports they file. (I used to be a journalist. Trust me on this.)


Mind you, I don’t necessarily blame Alves for not having much to say. If he doesn’t have information, he doesn’t have information. But you don’t promise people a meaningful press conference if you have nothing to say, and you certainly don’t keep the reporters waiting that long for a whole lot of nothing. It would be different if the conference had been delayed while he gathered some answers or prepared something amazing to say, but clearly, that wasn’t the case.

There’s also no excuse for being so ridiculously brief. Again: he’s the P.R. guy. It’s his job to stand there and answer questions (even if they’re repetitive and annoying, as they inevitably would be). It’s in his job description to take the heat for, oh I don’t know, at least two or three minutes (10 or 15 would be more reasonable, but let’s start small). His answers may not actually be all that informative, but the process of answering feeds the reporters’ egos, and that translates into better press for his organization. Doing what he did, by contrast, is what we call “biting the hand that feeds you.”

But hey, maybe he was too busy to answer a lot of questions, you say. Maybe he’s actively helping solve the problem behind-the-scenes. Fine — then send out someone else! Surely there is some lackey, some assistant or sub-assistant or intern in the Rockies organization, who could stand up there and answer questions. Alternatively, don’t schedule a press conference at all, if you don’t have time to hold one! But certainly, scheduling a press conference, delaying it by 75 minutes without explanation, and then walking away in less than 90 seconds is NOT the answer, under any circumstances. I mean, I’m no communications or public-relations expert, but some things are just obvious. And one of those things is that Jay Alves needs to find himself a new career.

Anyway… for those seeking the latest update on tickets, RoxAndSox.net is a good source. It also gives you some sense of the quasi-revolt that’s happening among Rockies fans today. People are really, really pissed about this, and rightfully so.

5 Responses to “The Rockies are good at baseball and very, very bad at public relations”

  1. Mad Max, Esquire says:

    I agree that Jay Alves’ demeanor at the mic sucks and he probably should have taken questions, even if he couldn’t answer them. However, I would have to believe that the press conference was delayed for as long as it was because The Rockies had probably been told by their useless vendor that they would have something good to announce – like the site was back up and working – at 5pm. Then, they were probably strung along by the vendor until it became apparent by 6pm that the site wasn’t going to be working.

    But, yes, the guy didn’t need to get snippy with the reporter, even though the reporter was acting like a douchebag.

  2. Thanks for the plug! RoxAndSox.net is off the chains with angry fans!!! But it sounds like things are getting figured out – 12 noon Tuesday, online only. Thanks again!

  3. Kath says:

    NICE!!

    I am here in Denver, the Rockies site is STILL down and you give me the info I need to know. You rock! (no pun intended).

    I HAD tix!! Had them and waited for over an hour for my transaction to go thru. Then the server died. ‘My’ tix were in the Rockpile, Sec 403, 17-20. WERE. Operative word.

    So happy I found your blog tonite!

    Go Rockies! (The team, not the management team!)

  4. dcl says:

    Or at least if you are going to do that to a room full of reports you need to feed them and give them coffee… Food and coffee tends to make reporters happy… They are like college students, free food makes them forgive a lot of sins. Hungry reporters that missed a chance to get something to eat because you called a press conference at 5 and then delayed until 6? Very bad, hungry reports, not good…

  5. Joe Loy says:

    Being (though Why is a great Mystery to me :) a dedicated Cable Newsies viewer, I’ve formed this conclusion: the commencement of any Official Press Conference “scheduled” & announced during any ongoing “Breaking News” [sic :] event, is Always delayed for a Minimum of 56.5 minutes, during which the reporters (as well as the Anchorpeople) become increasingly surly, just as if they didn’t Know that this procedure is pursuant to some sort of a Rule. ;> Additionally, once the conclave Does at length get underway there is often little actual Information conveyed, most especially when the News event is any kind of an ongoing Criminal investigation or related matter.

    That said, yeah, this one does sound somewhat Excessive, and unusually Stupid (as distinguished from just Routinely stupid :). Even in the Typical long-delay scenario where few Facts are available anyway, the official flack hack public information specialist :], when he/she finally materializes, will spend considerable time & effort Not Answering the journalists’ repetitive questions and will do so politely & apologetically & with great promises to “schedule” another conference as soon as More is Known :>.