On February 12, Derek Jeter, renown New York Yankee shortstop, announced his retirement from baseball following the upcoming season. He posted his retirement message directly to Facebook. That was it. There was no press conference or accompanying announcement for the media. Jeter addressed the general public–fans, media, even teammates–in a 15 paragraph post, which he signed at the bottom.
A PR News article praised Jeter’s “clinic on how to use social media to strike the right tone for sensitive subjects.”
It efficiently distributes the information he needed to share–with plenty of thanks for his fans and the Yankees organization. (Brian Greene, article author)
The article goes on to describe how Jeter’s communication method strayed from the usual formality when it comes to professional athlete retirement announcements. Many people probably expected a press conference–as other professional athletes have done–to follow the unexpected Facebook post. I will admit that I, too, expected a formal press conference announcement.
Upon reading more of Greene’s article, however, I now understand why Jeter went about his news the way he did. Greene points out Jeter’s ability to control the entire message while “warding off story-hungry reporters.”
Following the announcement, sports headlines around the country were dominated by Jeter’s career highlights, not images and video of him announcing his retirement from behind a podium. (Greene)
In my opinion, Jeter’s disclosure was brilliant. It was genuine. It was real. This is what Jeter’s fans and publics want. I admire the fact that both teammates and the general public received the news at the same time. There was no precedence when it came to who would know first.
I believe that Jeter’s raw message allowed for many of the media posts to focus on what he wanted them to focus on: his career. The articles and stories written about Jeter talk about his legacy and reminisce his greatest career moments instead of only talk about his announcement. This leaves things on a much lighter note, which is appreciated because Jeter’s career should, naturally, be celebrated.
A lesson can be learned from Jeter’s unconventionality. As a student, I believe that, sometimes, we get too caught up on officialism and procedure. Jeter is an example of stepping outside boundaries and “breaking code.” Moreover, he is an example of doing this in the right way.
With all that college students learn in their courses–especially in communications courses, where traditional formats, etc. are introduced–it is important for us to bear in mind that, when appropriate, stepping outside the box is okay.