I can remember the first time I attended Reds Fest. It was back when I was in elementary school. I didn't know too much about baseball, but I knew I liked the Reds and I had my pick of favorite players. At Reds Fest, I was able to meet one of my favorites, Barry Larkin, who signed a baseball for me that I still have to this day. A part of my first Reds Fest experience that I will never forget is when I stumbled into Eric Davis or as I used to say, "Eric Davis almost ran me over." Being so young, I thought he was extremely tall. I remember being so excited about the incident/meeting mostly because of a story my parents had shared with me. When my mother was pregnant with me, she attended a Cincinnati Reds game with my father. Davis was up to bat and my mother screamed, "If you hit a home run, I'll name my kid after you!" Well, he hit a homer but my mother obviously did not keep her word.
My experience attending Reds Fest this year was quite a bit different, but just as enjoyable.I was undoubtedly still just as ecstatic to meet the players as I was many years ago. However, the comparison between my first and most recent experience with Reds Fest really shows how things have changed in a technological sense.
Reds Connect Zone
Besides the planning and execution of the entire event, I felt that we, as PR people, would be able to "connect" with the new area, the Reds Connect Zone. Before I had even stepped foot into the Duke Energy Center, I knew I wanted to check out the Zone because Lisa Braun, Digital Media Director for the Reds, tweeted that it had become a "media hangout". A PR persons go-to spot!
The most popular spot in the zone were the two round tables hooked up with different phone chargers for attendees to use. This was a HUGE difference, considering the fact that my parents didn't even own cell phones when we had last attended! These tables became lifesavers amidst the sea of Reds fans. Since there were so many people in one area, texts and tweets were harder to send out thus draining our batteries. The round tables brought fans together to re-charge and swap stories of which Reds they've met or were hoping to meet.
In the Connect Zone, traces of Twitter were just about everywhere you turned. From the neon @Reds sign hanging from the ceiling, to the boards with all of the Reds related handles, to the Selfie station that sent your photos through the Reds account displayed on a flat screen, I loved every bit of it. The zone also included tables with iPads to log onto Twitter, photo booths, and a stage where they hosted talks with players, coaches, and announcers. Overall, I thought the Connect Zone was a smart idea. Although, I AM a sucker for social media integration. :)
Possibly the best part of my day was chatting with Lisa Braun and the Cincinnati Reds Public Relations Manager, Michael Anderson. It's always nice to meet industry professionals in the area, especially when you follow them via social media and hope to one day work with the,. While Anderson was busy editing photos to be posted on the web, we talked about his journey to his current position and he shared that it's important to continue to keep busy and gain experience when searching for a job. Kudos to Braun, Anderson, and the entire Reds team for a very successful event, once again!
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