The have to fold if the upstart

The Judicial System

The
Judicial System is an example of an enabling linkage for a very specific reason
that goes back to the roots of the sport. Baseball has an exemption from the
Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890. The MLB is extremely non-competitive, there are
no other professional baseball leagues in the United States. This is an example
of a trust, or a monopoly. However, the judicial system gave the MLB an
exemption to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, meaning that the MLB could not be sued
under anti-trust litigation. (Neilson, 2011) An upstart league tried suing
before the exemption had ever been enforced. Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis saw
that the upstart league had a valid point, however, judge Landis happened to be
a Cubs fan. The MLB told him that the Cubs may have to fold if the upstart
league was allowed to compete. In an extremely biased decision the Judge
decided to uphold the exemption. Later the MLB communicated with the Supreme
Court as to what to do about players attempting to form a union after the issue
had caused a strike multiple years prior. The Court told them to allow players
to unionize and the MLB did that. While the MLB currently has scores of lawyers
on retention, the Supreme Court has been extremely willing to give advice to
the MLB based on the two group’s history together. (Bendix, 2008).

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Fans

Fans
are an example of a functional linkage, as both input & output linkages. As
input linkages fans supply raw materials by paying for tickets to the games and
watching the games on TV. Their money spent on the tickets allow the teams to
pay for whatever they want. Watching games helps supply raw materials by making
the value of MLB games broadcast rights higher so that the MLB as a whole can
get more money in negotiations with media outlets like ESPN. There are mutual
lines of communication based on evaluations of what the league does. Going back
to the example of the MLB responding to public opinions that the games were
getting too slow and too boring by instituting rules to make the game go
faster. The fans communicate by responding to surveys, posting on MLB social
media pages, by their viewing habits, and how often they go to the stadium. The
MLB communicates back with them by making adjustments that help make their
experience better. As an Output Linkage fans are clearly users of the product.

The mutual lines of communication occur through similar processes as the input
linkages. The more satisfied that people are with the product is the key, so
similarly the MLB changing its actions based on surveys, social media outreach,
how people watch games and attend games allows for mutual lines of
communications between the MLB and the fans.

 

Teams

Teams
are another example of an enabling linkage. The MLB is comprised of 30
different teams and while on the field they are competing with each other, they
all allow themselves to be grouped together to form the MLB because it is in
their best interests. Forming the MLB allows teams to benefit from the legal
dynamics of being a group as well as the benefit of constant contact that comes
with being in a group. Thanks to the groups forming the MLB it is able to
negotiate all or nothing media packages. Where a team like Milwaukee would not
garner the same price for its media rights as a team like the Yankees, being
part of the MLB allows for the league to negotiate a group rate that benefits
small market teams. The best example of a line of communication between the
individual teams are the annual winter meetings that the MLB holds.

Representatives from all teams, major and minor leagues, come together in
Florida in the middle of winter to discuss rule changes, potential trades, and
really anything that is bothering them. (MiLB, 2017). With the team
representatives are league representatives, there to listen to and try to solve
people’s problem’s. This is a clear two-way line of communication, which is key
when dealing with enabling linkages. Everyone has their voice heard and actions
are deliberated and decided on by the league. The winter meetings serve to let
all teams give feedback to the MLB and for the MLB to work with individual
teams to make the league better. When the enabling linkages are satisfied, the
league can remain strong.

Question #6

Read a variety of sources about the topic of “corporate social
responsibility.” (Our textbook is one source.)

 

Part One: Based on your readings and personal opinion, explain
why it is important for organizations to be responsive to their publics. 

 

It is important
for organizations to be responsive to their publics to build and maintain their
reputation. A reputation as an ethical company is necessary to maintain good
standing in your market. R. Edward Freeman, a professor at the University of
Virginia’s Darden School of Business, suggests that “stakeholders collect
information about how a company behaves and these “collections” help them
determine what a company stands for”. (Freeman, 2001) From that quote, we can
draw that publics are always aware and judging an organization based on its
actions, forming its reputation. Reputation becomes even more important when
looking at research done by Steven L. Wartick, Associate Professor of
Management and Policy at the University of Missouri. Wartick concludes that “even
when confronted with negative information, it is difficult to change the
perceptions of stakeholders” (Wartick, 1992). From that quote, we can tell that
a reputation has a sort of inertia, that once you have it, it’s hard to change
it. Which leads back to Corporate Social Responsibility. Organizations need to
undergo Corporate Social Responsibility programs in order to have a good
reputation. However, what Corporate Social Responsibility programs an
organization undergoes cannot be random. If there was an outrage about Nike
using overseas sweatshop labor to make its products, Nike couldn’t just set up
a program to fight opioid addiction and expect it to have the same positive
effect on its reputation. This is why it is crucial for organizations to be
responsive to its publics. In the aforementioned example with Nike, being
responsive to its publics would mean Nike would need to address sweatshop
labor, either by stopping productions in sweatshops or making the sweatshops
safer. In conclusion, it is important for organizations to be responsive to its
publics because of the impact on reputation. An organization’s reputation is
based on their actions and that reputation has inertia. So, responsiveness to key
publics allows for reputation to be built up and stay built up, leading to a
more successful and more ethical company. (Broom & Bey-Ling, 2013).

 

Part Two:  Give at
least one detailed example of how your chosen organization performs its
social responsibility function, and describe the role of the public
relations person or department in helping that organization be socially
responsible.

 

Social Responsibility Example

One
example of how the MLB performs its social responsibility function comes from
the most recent world series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles
Dodgers. The MLB described what they would do like this “During the first four
games in both Los Angeles and Houston, the MLB family will be packing supply
kits for victims of wildfires in California, helping those affected by
Hurricane Harvey, feeding the hungry, bringing a Play Ball event to underserved
children, taking a stand against cancer, honoring military vets and more.” (MLB
2017). Obviously, the wildfires in California and the flooding in Houston
caused by Hurricane Harvey were very timely issues to focus on. Since the World
Series was between two areas that were effected by those natural disasters, it
was an incredibly perfect response to the fans by the MLB. Feeding the hungry
is not specific to anything related to the MLB but it is a large problem in our
society, so helping get food to people who need it is absolutely fulfilling a social
responsibility function, as is helping underserved children, fighting cancer,
and honoring veterans. These programs not only did a lot of good for people,
they were received positively by internal publics in the MLB and external
publics. For an example of the internal reaction, there is Astros pitcher Lance
McCullers Jr, who said “With the world now, so much is negative. It seems every
news station is competing on who can have the most negative storylines. For us,
for MLB to be pushing positive things to do good things is cool and different
now in the world”. (MLB 2017). For an external public there is Paige Kutilek,
the Acquisition Marketing Lead at YouCaring, who wrote an article titled “Six Steps for Running a Successful Disaster
Relief Fund”. Kutilek praised the MLB’s efforts, saying “Hurricane Harvey
relief funds also saw their efforts bolstered by generous organizations, including
Wal-Mart and Major League Baseball… a powerful step toward recovery”. (Kutilek
2017). Kutilek also mentioned how groups like the MLB use its influence expand
the number of potential donors. The MLB’s fulfillment of its social
responsibility functions through the aforementioned efforts were useful in
helping combat those issues. However, an even larger aspect of what was gained
through these social responsibility functions was building up the reputation of
the MLB as a caring and ethical organization. 

Role of PR Practitioner in Social Responsibility

 

Since
I was so blown away by the generosity displayed by the MLB during the World
Series I made sure to ask Ms. Leer about it. She said, “We were very proud of
the impact that we made through those programs, especially the flood relief
efforts, the wildfire relief efforts, and the stand up to cancer initiative”. While
Ms. Leer’s team did not come up with the ideas for what the

MLB’s
social responsibility efforts would be, the role of PR is just as important.

Ms. Leer’s team helped make people aware of what the initiatives were. She
worked hand in hand with the people at FS1 (FS1 was broadcasting the World
Series this year) to make sure that each initiative was given attention during
the broadcasts. Ms. Leer’s team helped develop the ads and the website for
Flood Relief donations. For the stand up to cancer initiative everyone in the
stadium was given a placard (sponsored by StateFarm) that read “I stand up for
___________” allowing people to write in someone in their lives that have been
impacted by cancer. Ms. Leer’s team worked with the Dodgers (it was the
Dodger’s stadium where the game was being played) to help hand out the placards
at the gate. She also helped get Statefarm to sponsor the placards and she
worked with the media to broadcast people’s placards in-between innings and
during the 7th inning stretch. The role of a PR practitioner in
Social Responsibility for the MLB is raising awareness of the causes that the
MLB is focusing on. And to influence people in the public to get active or to
donate. MLB’s PR practitioners are used to do good in the world, but also to
build up the positive reputation of the MLB.

Question #7

 

James Grunig and Todd Hunt have created the four-model theory of
public relations.

Part One:  Which of these
four classic models most closely resembles that of your chosen organization?  Justify your response by giving concrete examples.  (10 points)

 

The
MLB falls under the Two Way Asymmetrical Model of Grunig & Hunt’s four
model theory of public relations. In the Two Way Asymmetrical Model there is
two-way communication, however, the communication is not balanced. (Broom &
Bey-Ling, 2013) For PR professionals, this model focuses mainly on the entire
brand of the company. Ms. Leer spoke about growing the brand itself often
during our interview. Ms. Leer said “at the end of the day, we need fan support
to exist, so we will do what we can to make them happy. But, the owners really
have the power over decision making. When we made the switch to shorten
commercials during games it’s money out of the owners’ pockets and it almost
didn’t go through.” Fans have input, but if the owners won’t accept what the
fans want then it just won’t happen”. Ms. Leer is very adamant that her
department does in fact listen to the public, but there are no teams without
the owners, so they need to be kept happy. Another example of this model can be
seen way back in 1947. Jackie Robinson became the first African-American player
to break the color barrier in the MLB. Public outcry from the largely white fan
base was enormous, people hated the idea of an African American playing
America’s “National Pastime”. However, The Los Angeles Dodgers owner at the
time, Branch Ricky, saw the potential in Jackie Robinson as a player and the
potential that he had to desegregate the league. Ultimately, Jackie Robinson
was a huge success in the face of adversity and his number, 42, is retired in
every MLB team’s stadium to this day. (Biography.com, 2017). The story of
Jackie Robinson shows that there was two-way communication, the racist cries of
fans were heard, but the communication was asymmetrical, because it was ignored
in favor of social progress. In the Two Way Asymmetrical Model, the company
tries to manipulate the public into thinking the way they want them to think.

Feedback is given in this model, but it is not focused on in an extremely
important way. Admittedly, it is fairly tough for a league office to be
anything other than in this specific model of public relations, I do believe
it’s worth trying another model.

 

Part Two: In your opinion, is that the best model for that organization at this stage in its
history/development?  Justify your
response. (10 points)

 

I do not
believe that the current Two Way Asymmetrical model is the best model for the
MLB at this stage in the league’s history / development. I believe that
baseball as a whole, needs to evolve into something a bit more entertaining for
the average fan / consumer. The MLB was once the most popular league in North
America by almost any measure. Today, it has fallen to third behind the NFL and
the NBA and continues to fall as the NFL and the NBA continue to rise. (Silver,
2014). To stop the decline of viewership for professional baseball, the
public’s commonly held idea that baseball is boring needs to be changed. The
way forward to combat against this perception is to switch to a Two Way
Symmetrical Model. The MLB is already showing signs of doing just that by
listening to public feedback saying the game is too long and shortening it with
rule changes and less commercials. I believe that really listening to the
public and changing the game based on the feedback they receive can help stop
the trend of disinterest that is currently hitting the league. That is not to
say that the league must take action on every single thing the public asks for,
but since the MLB is so attached to the nostalgia that the game of baseball
brings, it has been hesitant to change almost anything about the way the game
is played. It took 104 years to just be able to signal for an intentional walk
instead of undergoing the process of throwing four pitches away from the
batter. Most of the suggestions that fans have serve to make the game faster
and there really isn’t much monetary cost or risk of losing tradition with the
most popular suggestions. One common suggestion is to take the human error out
of umpires by replacing them with strike or ball sensors. The TV networks
already do this so it really wouldn’t be difficult for the MLB to put it into
action. The idea of true Two-Way Symmetrical communication for the MLB is the
best option for the organization at this current place in its history /
development.