by Ashley Thomas

Craig Deas is known to the fans of the Lake County baseball team as “The Voice of The Captains.” Not only has he served as the team’s radio announcer for the Cleveland Indian’s class A affiliate, but he’s also the media and community relations director as well. In fact, Deas was even voted South Atlantic League Media Relations Director of the Year in 2007 and 2008.

Having been with the team for over a decade, Deas knows the ins and outs of the team and its relationship with its home town of Eastlake, Ohio. He shared his expertise about the relationship between social media and their fans via email on February 23rd, 2015.

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Ashley Thomas: Why do you think social media is important to building consumer engagement?

Craig Deas: It is the new way to reach fans and clients. People like to see what is happening with the team right now and that is a way to keep them informed immediately. 

 AT: How has your approach to PR changed due to the increasing use of social media in the industry?

CD: You have to be ready for negative comments as well as positive ones. It can be very good for PR when the comments are good. People feel they can comment on anything we put out, and they do. Everything we put out now in a release also goes out in social media so there are extra steps there as well. 

AT: Would you explain a recent successful social media campaign conducted by your organization?

CD: I don’t know if we have had a successful campaign, but we have grown both Facebook and Twitter significantly over the last two years. Our biggest campaign may have been to actually grow those numbers.

AT: What do you think is the biggest advantage to using social media for your company? Biggest disadvantage?

CD: It is an inexpensive, if not free, way to get the word out about things we are doing here. You can engage the fans with a call to action and really see what folks are thinking. I don’t know if there is disadvantages as long as it is used properly.

AT: What is one piece of advice you would give to a budding social media specialist?

CD: Whatever you send out needs to be accurate. People will tear it apart if it is not. Fans of our team know the facts about the club, so we better be right. You also cannot take comments personally about the club. We will only remove comments that are offensive or use foul language. We have to live with negative comments (thankfully they are few and far between) to be true to our fans and followers.

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As a whole, Deas’ advice can not only apply to inspiring social media specialists but everyone as well. No matter how many followers someone has they have to remember to stay true to their fans and followers because that is who these interactions are really for. Sometimes people, celebrities, and even companies forget this and end up in online Twitter fights or in other PR disasters that can tarnish their image, just look at ESPN’s Keith Olbermann

Overall, these online platforms are all about engaging with the fans while putting forth accurate information. The comments made by followers online can be great for a company image but the specialists have to be able to handle the negative comments made as well.