• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Monday, June 16, 2008

SHARP TURNS

* Let me state what should be obvious: Media guides need to suit the needs of the media. (!) Those who issue guides only in CD format are ignoring that BASIC. Despite a CD's obvious benefits, when a journalist is on deadline, it's still FAR easier and faster to flip open a printed guide and look up a fact. I witnessed this first-hand at the Indy 500: Three writers, all working on Team Penske-related stories, needed a fact. None wanted to take time to load, run, open, etc. the Philip Morris USA paid-for CD. GM Communications came up with a nice compromise in its Chevrolet Corvette pace car press kit: The CD came packaged with a 4 3/4" x 4 3/4" inch booklet which outlined basic information and even had snapshots of the photography available on the CD. Well done.

* As I've recounted many times, attention to detail is essential in journalism -- and PR. With that in mind, last week I received this notice of a media conference call:

"Jeff Gordon - Teleconference TODAY at 9 pm"

9 p.m.
(?) Sorry, I missed that call.

* PR, circa 2008: The track manager who takes local media coverage for granted, and that's been his career-long MO . . . The PR director who deals with the legitimate concerns of one of the most important media people in his market by ignoring the situation . . . The young, promising publicist who took a new job (in a company where the boss has demonstrated poor communications skills) and apparently quickly forgot that PR is a relationship business . . . The series' "director of media relations" who, in my observation, goes about tasks but hasn't worked to establish meaningful professional relationships with journalists.

* Sporting News will launch a daily digital national newspaper -- Sporting News Today -- July 23. It will be delivered free to registered users via E-mail 365 mornings a year. Register at:
http://sportingnewstoday.com/

The venerable magazine will become a biweekly publication on Sept. 1. The news announcement said Tony Stewart is one of several athletes hired as a contributor.

* ESPN Home Entertainment has released ESPN Inside Access: Jeff Gordon. The 230-minute DVD ($19.95) follows a similar offering about Derek Jeter last April. It includes footage of Gordon racing quarter-midgets as a child through his four Cup championships and Gordon appearances on various ESPN programs. What I like is it also has Jeff's Make-A-Wish Foundation activities.

* NHRA now has a national agency, Edelman, "to provide support and counsel with the implementation of its national public relations campaign." Edelman "will be charged with increasing the sanctioning body’s national profile through the strategic placement of the NHRA brand at high-profile events and with influential media on a consistent, ongoing basis . . . Edelman will be targeting predominantly non-endemic media in the lifestyle, health & fitness, fashion and general news categories in addition to building NHRA’s presence across multiple New Media platforms." So says the release. Edelman was wise enough to have the late Michael Deaver, Ronald Reagan's image-maker, as its vice chairman. I just wish before such important decisions are made, people within the industry, who might have some useful information to share, would be consulted.

* Is there a downside to BlackBerry Nation? Sometimes, the answer is yes. The danger is in feeling pressure to answer immediately, without adequate thought:
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0608/10995.html

* Pay attention to InBev's $46 billion takeover bid for Anheuser-Busch. It has the potential to dramatically alter the face of the American sports marketing landscape.

* Sam Moses is one of the best writers in America and I especially miss his work in Sports Illustrated. I happily learned in the June issue of Glenn F. Campbell's newsletter, http://www.autowriters.com/, of Sam's new website. I was interested in this quote, from Sam, about his vast experience doing car reviews: "What pisses manufacturers off is a flip and negative tone, not a critical comment of their car that can be backed up by an example." http://www.sammoses.com/

* Thanks to Mike Davis and Annette Randall (JR Motorsports), Judy Stropus (Don Schumacher Racing) and Dan Zacharias (Ford Racing) for their recent assistance.

* Mark your calendar: The 39th AARWBA All-America Team ceremony, presented by A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, will be Saturday, January 10. New location: The Hilton in Ontario, Calif.
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REALITY CHECK: Enough-is-enough with the wretchedly mismanaged U.S. airline companies. U.S. Air now plans to charge $2 for non-alcoholic drinks -- even bottled water. Unacceptable given that passengers can't -- for valid security reasons -- take liquids past checkpoints. But even the airlines says it's important for passengers to keep hydrated during long flights. Many people need to drink in order to swallow necessary prescription medications. Some medicines are best taken with juice rather than water. This is a PUBLIC HEALTH issue and should be strongly resisted by the flying public. I'm usually opposed to government regulation of business -- but not in this case. Yes, the airlines say passengers can carry-on beverages purchased in stores located past security. The prices at those concessions already are outrageous and, trust me, this will just give them a new reason to jack-up 'em up even more.
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Here's a link to my new "All Business" column in the June Drag Racing Online magazine:
http://dragracingonline.com/columns/knight/x_6-1.html

And, last Friday's Arizona Republic notebook, featuring Brad Keselowski:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2008/06/12/20080612racingnb.html


[ more next Tuesday . . . ]