Washington Capitals / Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has long maintained a rep for accessibility and awareness of nu media, but those days are over, writes the Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg. Leonsis, besieged with mountains of fan email, has decided to put the kibosh on his Caps and Wizards accounts at the end of the month. Now, if Leonsis has to interact with the fans, he’ll just have to settle for the old-fashioned method : assaulting them.
“I’m not learning anything any more,” Leonsis told me Monday afternoon, not long after he had gone through that day’s batch of fan e-mails. “I just found myself spending an hour or two hours every day, and it wasn’t helpful any more. I’m finding that meeting with people one-on-one, being on message boards, reading comments on [The Post’s Web site] — it’s just a better, more efficient way. And to be honest, e-mail has changed. It just has changed dramatically from the way you communicate to the way you sell.”
I assumed Leonsis was checking out because the tone of his e-mails had gotten less civil, but he said the reverse was actually true. When he first started responding to fans, the Caps were a less successful team, and fans unleashed “pent-up frustration” through e-mail, which helped the owner learn about his base.
But now he gets e-mails from a guy in Vancouver who wants the Caps to trade for Roberto Luongo, or notes from a mother in Nashville whose daughter needs help with a fundraiser, or queries about what he thinks about the political situation in Cyprus.
“I have lots of other ways to get input and interaction; this one just ran its course,” Leonsis said. “I just feel that e-mail has lost its initial reason for being. It used to be a one-on-one way to communicate. Now it’s more about spam and push marketing and anonymous communications.