O’s good deeds are going unheard

August 22, 2007 | Drew Forrester

A couple of weeks back, Rick Maese of The Sun wrote a piece on the Orioles that documented their new community relations efforts and a program called OriolesREACH.  The article by Maese essentially indicated that the Orioles are going to be more aggressive with their out-bound PR – meaning they’ll now be a little bit more vocal when it comes to telling everyone in the community about the good work being done by their players and the organization in general.  Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that – the Ravens have perfected the art of self-promotion over the years and the media, in turn, does a fair bit of “back rub” coverage of Ravens players who are out and about in the community each week during the football season.  But it’s good for the community to see these athletes “giving back”…it validates that they realize their lifestyle and athlete status in town doesn’t make them any better or any more gifted than the rest of us…they just happen to play football, baseball, etc. for a living.

Fast forward to this week.  I received – and I can’t help but think it might have been an accident that the O’s PR staff forwarded me the information – a detailed OriolesREACH press release that chronicled all of the team’s community efforts for the next 7 days.  One of the player-driven events is a fund-raiser being held by Brian Roberts next Sunday to benefit the University of Maryland Medical Center.  As most of you know, I run the WNST charity golf outing each spring and I have first-hand knowledge of the work that goes into these kind of one-day fund-raising events and I also know how important it is to “get the word out” – after all, the more people who know about your event, the better chance you have of raising MORE money.

I was particularly intrigued by Roberts’ fund-raiser, although there were several other OriolesREACH programs going on this week that deserved attention as well.  To that end, I contacted the O’s PR department on Monday and asked if one of their PR/Community Relations representatives would like to come on my show and talk about OriolesREACH and, the events going on this week.  Additionally, in an effort to help Roberts sell as many of his $200 per-person tickets as possible, I invited him on the show (going through the PR department to request that appearance) and figured, with the team in town this week, it might be a convenient time for Roberts to get up at 9:00 am one day and spend 15-20 minutes with me on the phone to discuss his very worthy fund-raiser.

That e-mail request went out at noon on Monday.  It’s now 8:45 pm on Tuesday.  I’ve taken the liberty of writing the response I’ve received from the Orioles in the space below.  Here it is:

(                        )

No reply.

My first thought is this:  I wonder how pissed off Brian Roberts would be if he found out the team didn’t even notify him that the only local morning drive sports talk show in town gave him an open invitation to call-in at some point this week and promote the fund-raiser he’s running on Sunday night?

As a follow up to that question, if anyone out there wants to show Brian this and let him know he has an open invitation to come on the show this week, feel free to do so.  Brian, call me at 410-481-1570 anytime between 6a-10a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and you can “own” the next 20 minutes.  I want to help you promote your worthwhile event.

The team’s failure to even return my e-mail is bothersome enough, but what kind of message are they sending to their players when they won’t even allow me or anyone at WNST to help promote what they’re doing in the community?

Somewhere, one of you reading this will say, “Why should the Orioles help YOU, and YOUR station, Drew?  Everyone in town knows there’s a battle going on between the Orioles and WNST.”

To which I would answer:  “We’re trying to help THEM.  We’re extending the olive branch.  We’d like to promote THEIR good deeds.”

The OriolesREACH information that I saw on Monday looks to me to be a very well developed program that extends the club into the community in a manner we should (and would) be proud of.

I assume they sent me the press release because they WANT me to talk about it on the air, right?  I mean, honestly, is there any other reason why they sent it out?  I know when I sent out community relations information during my days as the P.R. Director of the Blast that I did so with the hope that members of the media would find it worthy of on-air exposure.

So, why send it if you’re not going to allow me to talk about it?  Why tell me about this great event Brian Roberts is hosting and then not allow Brian to come on and promote it to the community?  Why tell me that Erik Bedard is going to be out on the town signing autographs on Thursday, then refuse to have one of your P.R. people come on the show to tell YOU where he’s going to be?

A lot of people think WNST has been too heavy handed with the Orioles over the last couple of years.

Well, at some point, – and I’m speaking for myself here – I’d like to see WNST and the Orioles have the same kind of relationship that the station has with the Ravens.  We cover the games, allow listener feedback on the good, the bad and the ugly and also serve as an outlet for the team’s efforts in the community that can only serve to bring us all together to be proud of our sports heritage in Baltimore.

So, because I would like to see WNST and the Orioles forge a new, better relationship, I offered them the opportunity to promote their OriolesREACH program and I also wanted to help their star player sell tickets to his fund-raiser this Sunday.

Sadly, WNST appears like we’re the only ones trying to improve the relationship.

I hope Brian’s event goes well.

I only wish more of you knew about it.

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