NEW YORK: The World Baseball Classic has tapped GCI Group to help promote the first-ever international baseball tournament, which will take place in March 2006.
The Classic is a joint effort between Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association. It will feature teams from 16 countries, including the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Japan, Venezuela, Italy, and The Netherlands.
As part of the tournament, MLB players are eligible to play for their home country's teams.
Dominick Balsamo, a specialist in international business and market development for MLB, said the organization selected GCI Group for its experience in outreach to international audiences.
"One of our goals it to... increase the popularity of baseball around the world," he said. "The international reach was really important."
He added that GCI would work alongside MLB's internal PR department.
Ray Kerins, EVP/MD of the media relations and corporate communications practices at GCI, said the agency is working with the baseball federations in the individual countries to garner attention for the event. One of the main messages is that this competition marks the first time that baseball is a truly global competition.
"The appeal for baseball around the world is fairly clear," he said. "This is a way to leverage the success that baseball has had in the US and 16 other countries."
Kerins said that the agency has already started international media outreach.
"Our main goal is focusing on international press and non- traditional baseball press," he said, adding that the agency will target lifestyle, business, and even technology publications for possible stories. "The hope is to expand this beyond the sports pages."
GCI helped to launch the event at a 600-person press conference at the MLB All-Star game in July.