Trey Fitz-Gerald and Sam Stejskal, Real Salt Lake’s head public relations honchos, held a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session on Monday.
Here’s a link to the full version, which is worth a glance, but the best parts have been extracted here.
Let’s start small. With the Major League Soccer website employing its own editorial team to write match reports, features, blogs and everything in between, there have been questions of its editorial independence.
While Stejskal did not say anything about the main MLS site’s independence and whether those stories are filtered to portray the league in the best possible light, he did say that the content on each club’s site is only subject to that club’s discretion, not the league’s:
Every club has its own system of editing. As PR tends to be, some teams rival on the sycophantic, with hardly a negative word allowed near their URLs, while others are broader in their coverage and allowance.
RSL has always been on the latter side. In the smallest media market of MLS, the club seems to feel more of a responsibility to teach the game — RSL or otherwise — because of a dearth of coverage from independent publications.
When I spent a week in Salt Lake around the United States’ World Cup qualifier against Honduras, this was pretty obvious. I was the only media member at probably half of that week’s training sessions.
That feeling of responsibility to teach the game and find some way to reach out to the community extends to RSL’s policies on broadcasting. Anybody who subscribes to MLS Live, the league’s generally excellent streaming system that allows them to watch almost every game live, has been frustrated by blackouts.
Most games broadcast in local areas are blacked out so the channels do not lose viewers. MLS Live does not play each individual channel’s commercials, so advertisers could be less inclined to buy time if viewers are just going to watch online.
National broadcasts are also blacked out.
However, RSL does not black out its broadcasts in the Salt Lake valley:
A couple of interesting facts from that response: first, it seems blackout rules are up to individual clubs and broadcasters to work out. Also, the notion of every broadcast being “a 2.5 hour commercial” for the club and the game is great justification for the policy.
Well done, RSL.
While many clubs around the league use social media to keep fans up to date on the latest news surrounding the team, Real Salt Lake takes it a step further with regard to interaction.
Fitz-Gerald, who is in charge of the @RealSaltLake account, is never shy about retweeting stories and opinions, both positive and negative, and interacting with other teams’ accounts — with sometimes interesting consequences.
The man behind the iPhone gave Reddit a short discourse on his Twitter policy:
An exchange between him and Sporting Kansas City’s fans came up in that thread as one example of other teams’ fans sometimes disliking the way RSL interacts on Twitter. True to form, Fitz-Gerald did not shy away from the disagreement regarding Chris Wingert’s collision with Kei Kamara:
Say what you will, but it’s always nice to have honest, open interaction with an official from an MLS club. It makes them seem human, like the rest of us.
Finally, let’s take a look at one of RSL’s favorite hobbyhorses: its lack of national television broadcasts:
All things considered, Salt Lake really should get more airtime. If programmers are concerned about the size of television audiences, they could show only the games against big-market teams, such as the Los Angeles Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders.
With its style of play and recent success, everybody could use more RSL on their screens.