This is how the Reds want to reach fans in southwest Ohio and beyond

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 9: A Frank Robinson statue outside the front entrance at The Great American Ball Park on May 9, 2004 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 9: A Frank Robinson statue outside the front entrance at The Great American Ball Park on May 9, 2004 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

While the Cincinnati Reds try to fight their way back to respectability on the field, members of their marketing team have a different sort of challenge.

How do they continue to drum up interest in the club in an ever-evolving media landscape with more potential competition eyeballs and dollars than ever before?

Senior vice president of business operations Karen Forgus explained that is war being waged on two fronts.

One is fairly obvious: Selling tickets. The more butts they can get into Great American Ball Park seats on a nightly basis, the better it is for the club’s bottom line.

The other is less tangible and yet in all likelihood more important.

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Since Bob Castellini bought the team in 2007, the club’s mantra is: Even if they can’t get you to Cincinnati often, the Reds want to make sure you feel like part of the team.

“We don’t focus on driving commerce. We don’t focus on selling stuff. We focus on connecting,” Forgus said in January at the start of the annual Reds caravan, an example of how the club realizes it must not merely expect fans to come to it in this day and age.

“We believe if you get more subliminal, subconscious, you connect with them, you get to know them and they get to know you and you hang out with them, eventually they’ll buy a hat or come to a game or something else. So that’s really what it is. We really just go with a connection mindset.”

The Dayton market is part of this effort in its own way.

“Particularly with the Dragons because the story arc of our players, by intention, are a Dayton Dragon through (Triple-A) Louisville to us basically, so we see that as really critical to us,” she said.

As far as attracting Gem City fans to Cincinnati, Forgus said the team is realistic.

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Fifth Third Field. Photo courtesy of Dayton Dragons

Fifth Third Field. Photo courtesy of Dayton Dragons

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Fifth Third Field. Photo courtesy of Dayton Dragons

“Dayton is one of those areas, the fanbase is already pretty indoctrinated to come to the ball park once, maybe twice a summer,” she said. “The odds of getting the Dayton folks to come down more than once or twice, we’ve got to be winning. They will absolutely be the first ones at the gate, and they love their Dragons. So they’ve got the games on TV, and they’re following the Dragons and they just don’t feel the need to go down there.”

That is not a unique problem for the Reds, who are in one of the smallest television markets in major league baseball but have one of the largest areas in which the league allows them to sell tickets.

The latter goes north to Columbus and Lima while also stretching into Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and even Tennessee.

That’s right: “Reds Country,” established back in the days of owner Powell Crosley Jr. thanks in no small part to the power of WLW’s 38-state-strong signal, is still a big part of the team’s identity.

But now Forgus says they have a new way of cultivating interest from within the region and beyond, tradition Crosley radios for iPhones.

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BOSTON, MA - JULY 09: Alex Colome #37 of the Tampa Bay Rays signs a snapchat selfie on a fan's phone prior to the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 9, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Credit: Adam Glanzman

BOSTON, MA - JULY 09:  Alex Colome #37 of the Tampa Bay Rays signs a snapchat selfie on a fan's phone prior to the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 9, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Credit: Adam Glanzman

Combined ShapeCaption
BOSTON, MA - JULY 09: Alex Colome #37 of the Tampa Bay Rays signs a snapchat selfie on a fan's phone prior to the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 9, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Credit: Adam Glanzman

Credit: Adam Glanzman

While the radio network is still the third largest in MLB, the team also aims to get to fans through their mobile devices, be it with highlights, custom news alerts, individual player updates or other methods they are still developing.

“The Reds’ view of any fandom starts with what’s in your hand,” she said, gesturing to a phone. “If you have a compelling team and some stars, then people are not as geographically tied. They will have a core loyal fandom tied to generations and geography, which will be their team, but they kind of follow the shiny penny, which is interesting.

“So that being said, the Reds kind of market both ways. We market to the truth of today, (but) with the truth of baseball being generational, we kind of have this footprint geographically.

“People who go back to the heritage feeling when the Reds were their team or their grandparents’ team, so that is part of our lore and our truth. So for us to abandon that would be silly.”

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