In 2006, the National Needlearts Association (TNNA) was looking to expand the needlearts - knitting, crocheting, embroidery, cross-stitch, and needlepoint - beyond its core audience. The group noticed a successful program launched by the Seattle Mariners baseball club the year before, when it invited knitters to a game.
After more than 1,000 baseball - and needlearts - fans showed up, TNNA adopted the concept, creating Stitch N' Pitch nights at the ballpark to reach out to a nontraditional audience.
By the beginning of the 2008 season, TNNA had spread the program to 80% of MLB ballparks - reaching the fans of 26 MLB teams and 20 minor league teams. TNNA hired Genesis PR to broaden this year's efforts.
The teams worked to show that the two pastimes do have some things in common, says Barbara Paley, marketing specialist for the TNNA and herself a master knitter and certified knitting instructor. "The rhythms of baseball and the rhythms of the needlearts are in sync - both are timeless," she says.
TNNA pitched journalists in MLB markets with the unusual sight of baseball fans working on stitching projects throughout the nine innings of a game. "The goal is to promote the needleart and get it into the forefront of media. [When] going to a producer or an editor and saying, 'Hey, let's talk about needlepoint,'... it's difficult to do that," says Libby Butler-Gluck, a PR consultant at Genesis. The team also pitched outlets ranging from NPR to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The program has expanded overseas, with the first event in Japan scheduled for September, and 20 minor league teams are hosting events during the 2008 season.
TNNA will attempt to expand to the stadiums of the four remaining holdout teams: the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Atlanta Braves, as well as throughout the minor leagues.
PR team: The National Needlearts Association (Zanesville, OH) and Genesis PR (LA)
Campaign: Stitch N' Pitch
Duration: December 2007- ongoing