• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

JIM CHAPMAN PR AWARD NOT PRESENTED IN 2009

In an uncertain world, of this, I am certain.

Jim Chapman would decry the lowering of standards throughout our society.

It is terribly sad what passes for "acceptable" these days.

Today, I announce that the Jim Chapman Award, for excellence in motorsports public relations, will not be presented for the 2009 season.

Mr. Chapman, the late and legendary PR executive, was my closest friend and had a profound influence on my life and career. I not only serve as chairman of the selection committee, I am legal owner of the rights to any racing PR award carrying Jim's name, as granted to me in writing by the Chapman family.

That said, I do not pick the winner. The Chapman Award recipient is chosen by a committee of journalists who actually knew Jim. They know best who merits the honor of having his/her name associated with the highest of standards as established by the great Mr. Chapman. For those not aware, among his countless life-long achievements, Jim masterminded the Driver of the Year award, made PPG's CART series sponsorship successful and respected, and he even was Babe Ruth's PR man.

The decision not to make the award this year was not mine alone. It does not mean there are no deserving publicists out there. It does means no one got the overwhelming majority of support, from the full committee, required to be a Chapman winner. The bar has been lowered elsewhere, but not in terms of winning the Chapman, established in 1991.

We will try again in 2010.

That said, let me repeat the call I made early in 2009. Under the current economic circumstances, we ALL need to work harder, think smarter, do better. In my opinion, not enough of that happened this past season. I heard more "PR" people than I care to remember make excuses based solely on reduced budgets. Available resources have absolutely nothing to do with the basics: Returning phone calls, answering E-mails, spending meaningful time in the media center, outreaching to local journalists who don't attend every series race, providing factual, accurate and newsworthy information. And finding ways to say "Yes" instead of what too-often has become the PR default "No."

The great professional lesson of Jim Chapman's life and career was the value of establishing one-on-one relationships.

In the new year, may more come to understand how valuable it is to extend a hand and say, "Hi. My name is . . . "


I'll be attending the NASCAR Sprint Cup awards events this weekend in Las Vegas. Check back here for some on-site thoughts, comments and news.


YES, They Did It Again: With barely enough actual FACTS to fill a tire valve-stem cap, the media twisted and turned the Tiger Woods story into hours of radio talk and cable TV show "coverage." Of course, 99 percent of such "reporting" was guessing and gossip. Typical was ESPN's once-great (under the stewardship of the late Dick Schaap) The Sports Reporters -- now, nothing more than a stool for the same-old tired heads to exhibit their egos and arrogance.

And, for years, there has been agreement by the TV types not to encourage bad behavior by showing the grandstand dopes who run out onto a baseball or football field. Yet TV went nuts with the White House party crashers actually positioned as the "news" lead! Why? Hint: An attractive blonde was involved.

How depressing for what once was an honored and proud profession.

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. ET, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

December 2 -- NASCAR 2009. Panelists: Dave Rodman, Kenny Bruce, Larry Henry.

December 9 -- Season-In-Review, Part 1. Panelists: Holly Cain, Gordon Kirby, Jeff Burk.

December 16 -- Season-In-Review, Part 2. Panelists: Jon Asher, John Oreovicz, Bob Margolis.

[ news nugget Thursday . . . ]