Handling fan enthusiasm during frustrating times

patriotpic.jpg Fans are enthusiastic.

That’s a bit obvious, but worth noting. There’s a strange dynamic between organizations and their fans, where those working for the organization tend to lose their enthusiasm for the product/business. Over time, even the coolest products become “just a job”, and dealing with those fans can cause some employees to get irritated.

Such was the case with the Cleveland Browns general manager recently:

BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage has apologized to a fan for sending a profane e-mail following Monday night’s game against the Buffalo Bills.

Savage used an expletive in his response to the fan, who criticized the GM in several e-mail exchanges.

“It happened after the game,” Savage in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “There had been previous e-mails from him over the months and enough was enough. We have both apologized to each other since. The Browns’ fans have overwhelmingly been supportive of me over the past 3-plus seasons and I appreciate that greatly.”

Savage’s biggest mistake wasn’t replying to the fan, or even letting his frustration show through. Emotion can and should be shown as part of fan communications; emotion is what makes it a personal communication rather than CorporateSpeak.

Savage screwed up when he let his emotions get the better of him and his communication turned into something he wasn’t proud of. Cussing is never appropriate in dealing with fans; it’s weak communication at best. Savage was clearly irritated with the fan who had been hounding him for some time, and was pushed to the limit and lashed out.

To Savage’s credit, he followed up and apologized. So did the fan. This story turned out OK, but who’s to say it wouldn’t have turned into an internet frenzy just as easily?

Letting your emotions come through in a limited, controlled fashion is all part of great fan communication. Letting your emotions run wild is not. Never reply/post angry or irritated, and most of the time you want to re-read your fan communications with a buffer of at least 10 minutes.

It’s just safer that way.

(Photo from bearklektor)