The Major League Baseball Players Association and lettrs recently announced they are partnering to bring fan mail into the digital age. The mobile application specializes in allowing users to write and compose letters to send all over the world from their phones. The application has been downloaded millions of times and translates over 80 languages, allowing users to also become pen pals.
Lettrs is now a licensed partner of the MLBP, and is the first app to have a collective bargaining agreement with a sports association. Michael Amin, director of interactive products at MLBPA, said it’s because of these reasons that the MLBPA was interested in the partnership.
“One of our main goals at MLBPA is to facilitate and enhance the player-fan connection. The lettrs platform allows fans to have meaningful interaction with player, in multiple languages, and provides a lasting and unique memento of that interaction, which could provide a lifelong connection.”
So how did the two first become involved? Lettrs founder and CEO Drew Bartkiewicz said it happened organically as a result of users and their letters to each other.
“Our app allows users to send thoughtful communications to each other and we noticed that one thing that people liked to write and talk about are athletes. It seemed like a natural next step.”
Through the agreement, players and fans can sign up for the app and send and receive letters. Fans can purchase a personal, autographed message back from players as well as purchase FanStamp sticker packs that unlock statistics, facts, and prizes. Those stamps can be collected or used on future letters they send from the app.
The end goal is quality communication with players and fans, which Bartkiewicz said lettrs provides.
“People ask us why lettrs is better than Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and regular fan mail and the answer is the quality of communication is better. Sometimes athletes get so much fan mail that it ends up in a filing cabinet somewhere and never get looked at. The new generation doesn’t really use regular mail anymore. We think this is a great solution to reach out to that generation.”
Autografs by lettrs is a new technology that is patented and allows players to sign the digital letters and scan their thumbprints using their phones to authenticate their signatures. Bartkiewicz said it’s easy for players to become involved.
“It takes 90 seconds for players to set up their accounts and the autograph feature is only for Twitter authenticated athletes. But it’s easier for the athletes because the fan mail is in one place and they can answer it at any time. Because the app translates letters into 80 different languages, they can communicate with fans around the world and expand their reach. They can also choose to donate any money they receive for their autographs to non-profit organizations and charities. We think several million dollars can be raised for charity through signatures on the lettrs app.”
Lettrs has had several athletes test out the technology and will announce the first set of players in January. Bartkiewicz said he hopes to continue growing the app and expand to include more professional athletes and entertainers in the future.
“Every team and player has fans and we think mobile autographs and fan mail will complement physical memorabilia and bring fan mail into the digital age.”
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