Tourism official invites you to invade Philly back
Most PR pitches I receive are immediately deleted, along with all those NASCAR e-mails I still get after covering four races in the summer of 2005. But if you send me a message with the subject line "Invade Philly Back?" Well, I'm going to read it, anyhow.
As you might recall, the Phillies' last trip to Nats Park included a large, organized group of Phillies supporters from a fan site, along with thousands more who came as individuals. I posted a brief item about all this, focusing on the huge number of Phillies fans who showed up in MASN's standard home plate shot. I also referred to this as a fan invasion, which gave readers license to post thoughtful discourses on the nature of inter-East Coast metropolitan migration, like this:
Who wouldn't want to get out of Sillydelphia for a nice weekend in the Nations Capital. We like there money $$$$$
And also this
There's a good reason the place is called Philthydelphia. It's Home of the Unwashed (M)Asses. What more can you say for a city whose culinary claim to fame is that mega hunk o'junk, the cheesesteak?
Now, a timid PR professional might have steered clear of such enmity, but Cara Schneider-- media relations director for the Great Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation -- is not timid.
"Would you like to join us and a small group of Philly media (not sports writers) in a suite on Friday?" she asked me, referring to this weekend's Nats-Phillies series. "If you make the trip, I'd be happy to arrange a city tour (mainstream or offbeat) earlier in the day."
See, this is Kastenomics in reverse. You can't be scared of your presumed rivals; you have to reach out and embrace them, changing the tone, slowly winning over hearts and minds.
As it turns out, I don't need to be converted -- my sister lives in Philadelphia, we visit there every December, and my family even belongs to the wonderful Philly kids museum. But I was a bit curious how a media relations director for a Philly tourism group would deal with all the hate.
Because let's be honest, we're all just waiting for a gross fan story to implicate Philadelphia, even when the same story coming out of Topeka would be mostly ignored. Just like Rob Dibble draws national attention for possibly offensive comments about female Nats fans, while Jim Riggleman makes a joke about indecisive women that's totally ignored. Anyhow, take it away, Cara.
"Travel writers are our bread and butter, but sports writers pass through here all time, and sports images affect the city's reputation more than anything," she told me. "There are things that have made me cringe through the years that have happened here, but there's such a knee-jerk reaction in the press. This is the story line in Philadelphia, and similar things might happen in other cities that never become the main story."
How, then, to describe the typical Philly sports fan?
"The word passionate is overused; if it weren't, I would use it," she said. "So I'll say fiercely loyal, they know the game - nobody disputes that, they're very well educated - and most of them are not as noisy as the one guy doing the stupid things that make the headlines. And yes, I hate it when someone in a stadium in Philadelphia does something deplorable. What I can't bear, though, is that defining a whole city."
I, of course, have Redskins duty this weekend, but Cara would like to invite you to visit her city. Washington is their third-largest feeder market, and there's even a "station domination" marketing campaign campaign in Union Station right now, with 76 different ads urging Washingtonians to head north. Go for the baseball; stay for the museums and the parks and the culture and whatever else tourist offices promote.
"Reverse invade," she said. "Absolutely. Invade back."
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