Short Takes: Building baseball excitement for a town without a team

Danny Stewart

Short Takes is an occasional series that captures interesting work by Missouri School of Journalism students.

Polar Park architectural rendering

With social media, instantaneity is king. How do you develop an online audience for a baseball team in a new city that isn’t playing there until 2021?

Throughout the 2018 Minor League Baseball season, it was heavily rumored that the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, were going to move to Worcester, Mass.

By August, it was official. The PawSox are still playing in Pawtucket for the next two seasons in front of angry Rhode Islanders who don’t want the team to move.

My project as part of the convergence journalism capstone is to help build a strong social media presence for the Worcester Red Sox and its new stadium.

PawSox/WooSox front office members are splitting time and running two organizations at once. I even took on some duties on the PawSox’s Twitter and Instagram accounts on top of the WooSox accounts. The Pawtucket side needs to keep running.

On the Worcester side, the new stadium being built for the WooSox in the Canal District of downtown Worcester needed its own social media presence.

Every day sees growth for the Polar Park social media accounts I managed. Between posts, merchandise sales and partnerships with Worcester officials and businesses, hype is generating smoothly.

The people of Worcester are excited to have a Triple-A Red Sox affiliate. I feel that I’m just a curator for that excitement and city pride. Wormtown Brewery even made a special beer called “Welcome to Worcester” celebrating the arrival.

Polar Park architectural rendering

But, developing a strong online audience isn’t about sitting back and watching it happen. The PawSox have always been family and community driven. Now, we need the same goals and community outreach within a different city.

Staying actively involved with Polar Park’s audience is simple. On top of hosting community-driven get-togethers and fan plan meetings, we use analytics and SEO to track our online growth and our audience’s tendencies, which helps us know what to post and when.

By beginning the transition of the team two years early, we’re establishing roots in the new community. It’s about creating connections with the people who’ve made Worcester a great new home for Red Sox baseball. It’s also about harnessing the excitement the people already have and tailoring our posts and identity to the people and their city.

Danny Stewart is a (soon to be former) print and digital journalism student at the Missouri School of Journalism. During the Spring 2019 semester, he worked for the Pawtucket Red Sox — Triple-A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox — as a social media administrator. Previously, he reported, edited and produced social media videos for the Columbia Missourian, covering sports, politics and everything in between. Follow him on Twitter @theOG_DANIMAL.

If your news organization could benefit from having a group of talented students work on a new product, service or other innovation, contact RJI Associate Director Mike McKean to explore the options.


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