It goes without saying that 2012 was a very tough year for the Colorado Rockies. The team came very close to losing 100 games and experienced instability with management, coaching and the pitching staff, all of which was well documented.
Their problems ran far deeper than the play on the field. The season was a public relations disaster, highlighted by bickering between the club and the people who cover it. Rather than using the media as a conduit to sooth their fans, the Rockies played things close to the vest and excluded critics from certain types of access. The strategy backfired.
“I think they had a wakeup call this summer,” says Mile High Sports’ Peter Burns, who was the Rockies’ most outspoken critic on several levels. “I don’t think that ownership understood the chasm between the club and the media.”
At the center of the Rockies’ PR struggles was their Vice President of Communications, Jay Alves. Alves, who has been with the club for nearly 15 years, struggled to keep pace with the pace of modern communications and with the needs of the media. As a result, he caused the team to suffer backlash. Entering the 2013 season, the Rockies are making improvements. A new PR guru has been assigned to work with the media. His name is Nick Piburn. Alves has apparently been “reassigned”.
“There’s a new era of transparency surrounding the Rockies,” Peter Burns told me, “I applaud them for making a change.” Burns’ initial impressions of Pilburn are favorable: “He reminds me of Patrick Smyth with the Broncos, who is kind of the Gold standard.”
Pilburn has had Rockies luminaries busily visiting various media outlets over the past several weeks. Owner Dick Monfort and GM Dan O’Dowd have been open books with the media and with the fans in discussing their strategies moving forward.
On Wednesday morning Monfort and O’Dowd will sit in studio with Peter Burns and Mark Kiszla, another person with whom the club has a checkered past, for their show The Press Box with Kisz and Burns from 7-9 AM. You can listen at Mile High Sports Radio AM1510, FM93.7 and streaming online.