• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

IT's GETTING WORSE

It's getting worse.

In the last three months, we've witnessed Tiger plunge off the cliff of public opinion. His agents at IMG aren't spin doctors but have badly played ones on TV and in private. I went to the NASCAR awards ceremony in Las Vegas, stood back, and watched PR people talk among themselves in their insular world, not bothering to outreach and build new media relationships. Next came the GoDaddy dud of a Danica announcement, with self-described "PR specialists" Katy Kelewae and Nick Fuller not even contacting the two most prominent motorsports writers in their home state. The names changed but the dumbness was the same as the IRL introduced its new CEO in Indianapolis on the same day the home-town Colts were involved in Super Bowl Media Day. Of the numerous mistakes made by the Delta Wing group in showing-off its prospective new Indy Car -- one of which was not properly preparing what is left of the hard-core fan base for the reasons such a radical change is needed (looks to me like something Craig Breedlove would have driven at Bonneville) -- the true folly was unveiling it in Chicago during Daytona 500 week. (Hint: Have news? Go to where the media are!) NHRA opening against the Daytona 500 was no better.

This stuff is so dumb, so stupid from a PR standpoint, you could not possibly make it up.

Then, last Wednesday, along came S. Jarrod England. He works in "Partnership Management & Media Relations for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, LLC." That organization's published Mission Statement reads: "To be the most professional, and most-admired team in motorsports who consistently wins races and competes for championships in every effort we make, and who also cultivates and maintains mutually beneficial and long-term partnerships with world-class sponsors providing them with a valuable return on their investment."

In brief, weeks ago, I contacted him and confirmed Jamie McMurray as Newsmaker guest for The Race Reporters. Not to the surprise of those who know me, I followed-up numerous times, including a few hours before the scheduled live interview. In a confirming E-mail, again, just hours before the scheduled interview, he wrote to me: "Really too bad not every radio host/media member is as good as you are at helping to remind on these obligations!"

The time arrived; McMurray did not call the studio as promised. We tried McMurray's and England's cells and got voice mail for both. McMurray did finally call -- with one minute left in the 14-minute segment, as I was thanking my media panelists and setting-up the next guest and topic -- too late to even get one word.

At first, I heard nothing from his "PR" person. He, in fact, only called and E-mailed me after I shamed him into it. His instinct was not the common courtesy to apologize, but rather, to express a mindset of "these things happen." Exact quote. (Something tells me that's not what Ganassi said to Justin Wilson after the Rolex 24.)

Which, of course, only made the situation worse.

Compare that to his employer's Mission Statement. I should have known, in that I've noticed he's one of those who don't come into the media center (in my case, at PIR) to introduce himself and offer information or assistance. That's about as basic at its gets.

According to his own published public profile, this is a person of modest experience. This much, however, I've learned in four decades of professional life: Some people get it. Some never will. (If that Twitter photo is legit, well, it's hopeless.)

Congratulations to McMurray, but Sunday's result doesn't change a single above fact.

More to come, including -- in my Constitutionally-protected opinion -- a theme song for these clowns.

In the once proud and honorable PR profession, it's getting worse.


FAST LINES: One thing we learned last week was that ESPN didn't learn the credibility-bending downside of wretched excess. One might have thought a review of the network's 2005 Danica slobbering would have been in order pre-Daytona. Proving that our society now leans even more in the direction of celebrity, ESPN went even further off the deep-end in hyping Danica's NASCAR debut. A Danica "ticker?" Please. Only the Todd Harris and Jack Arute gushings were missing from five years ago . . . The diminished knowledge of major print media journalists was shown again in the Feb. 15 Sports Illustrated. In yet another puff-up-Danica story, Lars Anderson wrote that her signing with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Junior Motorsports "has allowed JR to attract two new sponsors and contend for the Nationwide title with driver Kelly Byers." First of all, Lars and editors, it's BIRES. Secondly, guess who wasn't in the Daytona Nationwide field due to lack of sponsorship -- BIRES . . . MSNBC showed a graphic listing Sarah Palin's public events into March. But they left off her visit to the Daytona 500. I don't think that was accidental . . . Hey, Harry Connick Jr. When allowed the great honor of singing the National Anthem, take off your cap!


I'll join Mark Armijo in covering this weekend's NHRA Arizona Nationals for the Arizona Republic. Watch for our stories beginning Thursday. Here's a link to my lengthy piece on John Force, which ran in last Sunday's Republic:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/02/14/20100214nhra-john-force-going-forward.html


Jeff Gordon will make his first appearance on my The Race Reporters on March 3. For the first time, we'll have two Newsmaker guests, with IRL commercial division president Terry Angstadt also on that program.


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.)

February 17 -- Newsmaker: Larry Dixon. Panelists: Alan Reinhart, Stan Creekmore. Plus, Larry Henry.

February 24 -- Newsmaker: Brad Keselowski. Panelists: Mark Armijo, John Sturbin.

March 3 -- Newsmakers: Jeff Gordon and Terry Angstadt. Panelists: Gordon Kirby, John Oreovicz.

[ Larry Dixon news nugget Thursday . . . ]