big ts

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wanted And Needed: Public Relations People To Help Promote Racing

For What It's Worth, My 2 Cents
by: Dale Hall

This is just my opinion and mine only. I see a glaring absence of any organized effort to promote stock car racing and that needs to be rectified for the good of the sport. Too many tracks and racing series do not have dedicated public relations people and, if they do, they most often resort to a hodgepodge of efforts to get information about their track or series out to the public. The most prominent of those efforts rely on social media and even those efforts often have no rhyme or reason. Just think about how many different ways the tracks or series each of you know about disseminate information regarding their upcoming events.

I am not saying that social media doesn't have it's place in this day and age of electronic media. For sure it does. What I am saying is that the way we done things twenty or thirty years ago doesn't necessarily work anymore and we need to adapt with the changing and evolving technology if we want to see stock car racing survive and continue to grow, hopefully, in a coordinated effort.

One glaring omission is that most often a track or series does not have at least one person dedicated to providing reliable updated information to the public. Rather than focusing on the negative aspect of this, let's focus on where some are getting things right. For example, East Alabama Motor Speedway has got themselves an excellent public relations person in Lamar McClellan. So does Senoia Raceway with their public relations specialist, Ted Austad. Both of these gentlemen go about their business in a professional way and they are constantly promoting their individual tracks by providing information to the public as often as possible in various ways. Some of you may have noticed their articles on Deep Dixie Racing where they are either promoting or recapping races at their facilities. They provide those stories for any media outlets which are willing to publicize them. People, that is a win-win situation because the media outlets get content and the tracks get free publicity. Lamar also provides updates as racing action is taking place at the track as well. Another person I am impressed with is Wesley Outland and the way he handles his duties as the National Series Announcer/Public Relations Director duties for the USCS. He is constantly doing live videos to help promote that series and that helps keep those guys in the public eye.

Traipse on over to the East Alabama Motor Speedway Facebook page and scroll down to see how a well-maintained track page looks. New Senoia Raceway's Facebook page is another one you will want to check out. They do it right.

What makes a good public relations person one might ask? Well, first of all, a love of the sport itself is a given. If a person doesn't have that going for them - well, just forget it. To generate interest, your topic has to be interesting. If you love stock car racing and you can communicate that to your audience, it should show in your work. That will help attract a following. As you attract a following, that following in turn will help share your work with others, most often through social media. Now, some people are apt to be good writers and others are likely to be real comfortable in front of a camera. Others may be comfortable with both writing and getting their point across by doing a video. A good PR person will be able to adapt to a style he or she is comfortable with and proficient at. They may even evolve their style as they become more comfortable with different media. Probably, more often than not, they also surround themselves with others of like mind and talents who help out in their efforts. For example, Lamar McClellan and Eric Gano work hand in hand in providing coverage for East Alabama and Ted Austad and Francis Hauke work together doing the same at Senoia Raceway. Eric and Francis just happen to be photographers at those tracks, and dang good ones at that.

Public relations is all about information, information, information, and getting that information out to the public in the most advantageous way.

As a race fan,  I always like to be informed about what is going on at favorite tracks and race series I like to follow. That includes information about upcoming racing events, information about events when I am at the tracks, and a recap of anything I might have missed after leaving or getting home from the tracks. It is probably in the best interest of the tracks and series to be the ones who provide that information so that is timely and accurate.

Information about upcoming events is pretty much all about event announcements, getting out flyers, notifications regarding participating drivers, rules, payouts, ticket costs, and other typical information regarding the event. Those are important to most of us. Once at the track, I would like to be informed about the schedule of events for the evening, which drivers actually showed up, qualifying information, and information about any changes which may be taking place. To be honest, most of that can and should be taken care of by the track announcer but, more times than not, that information is not always heard by everyone or it may go in one ear and right back out the other. For those reasons, the track announcer's information could and probably should be accompanied by releases of tidbits online that have actual lists, photos, and videos for fans to look at and share with others. Those things could be accomplished by a dedicated PR person. Once again, Lamar McClellan and Eric Gano are already doing a lot of that at East Alabama Motor Speedway. What will it take for other tracks to follow suit?

I don't want to come across as being critical of any track or series. I am hoping to point out that, because of evolving technology and fan habits concerning social media, there might just be a better way for those tracks and series to interact with fans and that they should explore ways to do so. Having at least one person dedicated as a PR person should be a good start in that direction.

If you or someone you know is interested in helping promote racing at a local track or racing series, I encourage you or them to develop relationships with your local track management or series management. To be honest, people should not expect to be making much, if any, money in such an endeavor. Do it because you love the sport. That is why a lot of us do it, even here at Deep Dixie Racing. As Eric Gano recently told me, you won't get rich doing this sort of stuff but you get to meet a lot of interesting folks and you pretty much always get one of the better seats in the house. I am going to share this on Facebook so hit me up on there if you have any questions or comments. Let's all try to make our sport more enjoyable for everyone and help make it grow at the same time.