By: Eric SanInocencio
SEC Digital Network
Birmingham, Ala. -- I questioned whether I was doing the right thing
. Almost 11 months ago, I added the SEC "feedback" account into my email stream, allowing fans to connect with me one-on-one with every letter they typed.
My reasons for this were simple. If I could somehow forge a personal relationship with the SEC Nation, answering questions they had about the league or the Digital Network, it was worth it. However, looking back now, what I have found out is sometimes fans just want to be heard, on all kinds of topics, at any time in the day. That has been interesting to say the least.
Let me recap. On the bottom of every page of the website, there is a sentence that reads the following.
"Got a question for the SEC? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org."
Before, that email was a filtered stream, a place that was grouped in with a variety of customer support lists from clients. There were a group of people that had access to it, but the amounts of emails were often overwhelming, leaving many questions unanswered over time. After learning about the process, I asked for the emails to be sent directly to me. Seeing as how I'm the person with the most overall access to the website and what appears on it, it only made sense for me to be answering the questions. That's what I thought anyway.
Again, 90 percent of the emails are great. They are informative, reasoned and well planned out. Sometimes I wonder if fans passion for the SEC has become their full time job, because some messages I get look like they took hours to compose. Again, all worth it.
On the flip side, there are certain times of the week (think Saturday) where fans use the feedback to vent. They may be upset with their team, a call (surprise, surprise) or something that didn't go their way. They take to their computers (or phones) looking for solace, and often times just voice their displeasure. They don't necessarily address the emails to me, or anyone in this office, but they just want someone to listen. And trust me, I read every single one of them.
Do their points always make sense? No. Are they valid on occasion? Of course. But in the end, I understand that releasing any anger they have to this generic email address can be a source of therapy, so I don't mind it at all.
What I would explain to fans is this. The Southeastern Conference, while encompassing, doesn't control everything. I get emails about commercials, apparel and concessions. Not all of that falls under the domain. Again, I don't dodge questions, but many times you pose thoughts I cannot answer. We don't deal in speculation, just concrete facts.
I think there are plenty of you out there that have heard back from me, and you'd agree that when there is something we can clarify, we do so. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case.
The thought actually crossed my mind to post some of the emails I've received. It can be a great learning experience to sift through the inbox, helping us to try and understand what fans are thinking about as they support us during the week. But again, I know some people just need to "clear their cache" so to speak, so it probably wouldn't be fair to air them out there.
Perhaps this feedback system can be better explained. Think of it this way.
Instead of a place to release frustration, think of it as a daily SEC mailbag, a way to bridge the gap between fan and conference. I take your questions seriously, and I invite anyone to share their thoughts. While brainstorming on this very subject with the Digital Network's own Sean Cartell we figured we could even take it a step further.
If your email features a valid question, let's feature it on the website. Let's do a "SEC Mailbag" with your thoughts about the league. Let's make this process better for everyone. That is our goal going forward.
So, keep sending the emails in. If I can help you, I will. If not, well now you know why. Pandora’s Box is still open.