Chicago Fire Communications Director Crazy like a Fox, not Crazy

Chicago Fire Communications Director Crazy like a Fox, not Crazy

If you believe that the Chicago Fire decision to bring aboard Dan Lobring was  “a shitty hire,” today was probably a big day for you. Lobring, the Communications Director for the local MLS soccer team took to the Chicago Fire official website to address his haters, as well as the haters of the front office and the club itself.

“A shitty hire” are Lobring’s words not mine, and he also posed this question, on the Chicago Fire official team page: “what made me a shitty hire on day one?”

Usually, I’m all about avoiding curse words as much as possible in my writing, and on my social media. I know this makes me exceedingly rare among Chicago Now contributors since so many of us like to bomb you back to the Stone Age with swearing. However, maybe swearing was required for Lobring to get the point across. People shouldn’t be saying Dan had a “meltdown” or “went crazy” in his cathartic confessional today.

He accomplished exactly what he’s supposed to do- get people talking about the Chicago Fire.

He’s not crazy. He’s crazy like a fox.

Deadspin was the first to pick up on this, as they usually are. And I enjoy this opening graph:

the person who holds the title “communications director” does not possess the most glamorous of jobs. His or her days are spent writing bland electronic newsletters that will be ignored by almost everyone who receives them, desperately trying to get more “likes” for their organization’s Facebook page, and updating a website that nobody ever reads.

You know me, I love to hate on Media Relations people, but it’s only because so many of them here in Chicago are self-aggrandizing, condescending, and usually over-rate their station in life. None of these traits are possessed by Lobring and the Chicago Fire professionals.

I haven’t worked with them much, or very often, but I’ve always found the Chicago Fire staff to be very accommodating; especially last summer when Manchester United came to Chicago for an international friendly. They handled the media crush for that very well. And I totally disagree with Deadspin about people never reading official websites. The traffic numbers say otherwise. Sure, media types don’t read official sites because we all know those things are nothing but propaganda, but casual fans do read them. However, DS is spot on about the vanilla newsletters being instantly deleted though.

The 1,400-word blog post by Lobring is critical of disruptive fan behavior and personal attacks on Chicago Fire owner Andrew Hauptman and Chicago Fire staffers. I think Lobring speaks from the heart, but I also think this was a phenomenal publicity stunt. You can have both at the same time. The Chicago Fire attracted a ton of local and national media attention today- it’s what Lobring is supposed to do. And he did it by simply expressing how he feels, with no filter.

His post was reviewed and endorsed by senior Chicago Fire management according to the Red Eye.

So for those of you calling for “Chicago Fired” over this, sorry you’re wrong. The club bigwigs have his back, as they should. The Chicago Fire have a lot of things going against them. They were founded on the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, October 8, 1997, when they named themselves after something that took hundreds of lives. Is 126 years long enough to wait? Well, if there’s a sports franchise called the New Orleans Katrinas established in 2131, I guess we’ll know.

And now the club often gets confused for (and overshadowed by) a NBC drama of the same name, and their rabid fan section is named Section 8, after where they sit in the stadium. It’s just a coincidence, but most people in Chicago first think of a dangerous, high crime area surrounding public housing when they hear the words “Section 8.” It’s in reference to the Housing Act of 1937.

People don’t first think of good-natured, fiercely devoted soccer fans.

Then there’s the issue of Toyota Park in Bridgeview.

It’s not far from the city; it’s just poorly accessible. It’s a close drive from downtown, however, the one highway that goes there is horribly congested about 18 hours out of the day, every day. Toyota Park is a beautiful, first-rate facility, but there are pretty much no public transit options to get there. And it would probably help the Chicago Fire not to charge $11 for beer at some stands, $9 at other brew kiosks. Sorry, you’re not the NFL, so you can’t come even remotely close to getting away with that.

Then you have to factor in the more macro issues like how Americans will never truly embrace soccer as a mainstream sport and the fact that the Chicago Fire come behind the Bears, Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox in priority. With all that going against them, I think the Fire front office are doing a great job. I think both Lobring and the Media Relations department deserve praise for accomplishing all that they can despite the strong tides they must swim against.

And most importantly, give kudos to Dan Lobring, and the Chicago Fire suits for supporting him on this “editorial.” Don’t deride it. He did a brilliant job with this.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan, he also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

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