Saturday, June 25, 2011

Making Fans "Off the Field"

The big crowd at Yankee Stadium showed that they remembered him with something just short of a standing ovation as he walked to the plate. JasonGiambi paused just outside the batter’s box to acknowledge us by touching his hand to the brim of his batting helmet. 

Then he promptly hit a rifle-shot home run to right. There was another round of cheers.

Coming to the Bronx in 2001 was not without its challenges. Giambi signed a big contract just three months after 9-11 and was replacing the much-loved first baseman Tino Martinez. But his performance as a Yankee, including his highlight-reel homeruns, earned him many fans.

I liked him as a player too, but it was something he did months before he ever played his first game for the Yanks that made me a Jason Giambi fan.

That event happened in December, 2001. Matt Lauer and the Today Show took a young boy who’d lost his firefighter father on 9/11 to Yankee Stadium where they met, among others, the newly arrived Jason Giambi. The boy was asked who his favorite Yankee was and replied “Tino.” Jason said he was sorry (to be replacing Tino) and began a game of catch with him.

Everyone, Giambi included, had tears in their eyes.

It was beyond touching.

It was that unguarded moment of compassion - that peek behind the curtain - that made me think that a player with this kind of heart would be someone worth rooting for.  More than 10 years later I still remember that TV moment vividly; it was what made (and keeps) me a Jason Giambi fan to this day.

Listeners don’t forget talents’ actions either.

I’ve moderated plenty of station panels where listeners can recall in great detail how a particular talent remembered their name, asked about a family member or a circumstance they’d been told about months before, or how they just were open, engaging, real, and interesting.

I’ve also heard from listeners left with bad impressions because they thought a talent was aloof or too self-important because they sat at a table or didn’t make an effort to engage them in conversation.

Brands are a collection of personal experiences.  Your daily performance on air is a huge part of that, of course. But so is what you do off the “field.”

Don’t miss moments to connect.

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