• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

THE RIGHT WAY

UPDATE: I'll be on The Checkered Flag with host Rick Benjamin right after this Sunday's Formula One Grand Prix on SiriusXM Channel 208. Radio race coverage (as opposed to TV) is live with Rick's post-race show right after the finish.


Regular readers know how often I talk about the importance and benefits of one-on-one relationship building accomplished through old-fashioned human contact, not E-mail. Here's a real-life case study proving my point. It's from Roush Fenway Racing's marketing/sales department but should be taken to heart by team/sponsor/track/sanction publicists everywhere. This articles proves that, in the age of Facebook, Twitter and E-mail, there is NO substitute for the human touch -- talking face-to-face (or, at least, on the phone), eye-contact, a handshake, hearing a person's voice:
http://adage.com/article/small-agency-diary/i-discovered-nascar-marketing-channel/228119/

Now, let's travel to the extreme opposite end of the professional spectrum. Last Thursday, I received the following E-mail, from which I quote directly (I added the bold emphasis to the first line):

To whom it May Concern,

My name is Jared Moore. I work with Big Fuel Communications in NYC, the agency of record for GM and Chevrolet. As I’m sure you know, the Corvette Racing Team proved successful with the GTE PRO victory in the 2011 24-hour Le Mans. Chevrolet just released three fine tuned and race ready videos . . . It would be amazing to set up a feature or perhaps editorial content with your site as well . . . I look forward to hearing from you!

Let's understand this: This guy (and his agency) -- no doubt charging GM and Chevy a substancial fee -- is too lazy to even find out the name of the person being asked for coverage, but he wants a reply. Such unprofessionalism makes me think LESS of GM and Chevy, that they would find this sort of "PR" acceptable and worth money that, remember, has been made possible by a U.S. taxpayer bailout. The PR bar of professionalism has again been lowered and dumbed-down.

Last week on PR Daily, in a story titled "5 Reasons a Reporter Will Delete Your Press Release," one reason was, and I quote:"Fail to personalize it. If you don’t want a reporter to read your press release, by all means just send the text of the release as the body of the email. At the very least, PR pros should acknowledge that they know the reporter’s name and his or her work, and that they sent the press release because they had read the journalist’s stuff and know what he or she covers."


FAST LINES: This is the way sharp PRers used to do it -- Less than 10 minutes after Darrell Waltrip was announced as a member of the 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame last Tuesday, Michael Waltrip Racing PR director Drew Brown issued a statement from Michael . . . Good job by AP writer Chris Jenkins at Milwaukee to ask Danica the Business of Racing question that needed to be asked. She's staying with IMG after superagent Mark Steinberg left the management firm. Steinberg is best known as a golf agent but has worked with Patrick. Tiger Woods is remaining with Steinberg, Annika Sorenstam is undecided, and Danica is sticking with IMG as her NASCAR vs. IndyCar future is being negotiated. Important information . . . I don't like it that some Hall voters announce their votes in advance. That's disrespectful to the much-hyped group meeting where voters discuss the nominees. NASCAR should issue new guidelines to voters "suggesting" they avoid this practice . . . Inside the numbers -- While Cale Yarborough (85 percent), Waltrip (82) and Dale Inman (78) were clear winners, Richie Evans (50) and Glen Wood (44) were less so. That's certainly a lower standard than required by sport's most important Hall of Fame, baseball's (where the minimum is 75 percent), which is not to say Evans and Wood aren't deserving. NASCAR's 55 total voters (which includes a combined fan Internet vote) is roughly 500 fewer than that of the Baseball Writers Association of America . . . Too many announcers incorrectly used the word "inducted" when reporting on the Hall vote when "elected" was correct. Most were the same who seem to think "postpone" and "cancel" mean the same thing . . . As I forecast on Rick Benjamin's The Checkered Flag show on SiriusXM the previous Sunday, the NASCAR Hall vote significantly overshadowed the Tony Stewart-Lewis Hamilton ride swap, which happened the same day . . . A Grand-Am race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? I first wrote about that possibility in this very space on Feb. 6, 2007.


As the only media person who actually talked to the three main players in the Phoenix-IndyCar fiasco -- PIR President Bryan Sperber, ISC COO John Saunders, IC CEO Randy Bernard -- I've been on journalistically-sound ground all along in reporting to you that there would not be a 2012 IC event at PIR. I've explained the reasons before and anyone who knows anything about the business realities of the situation, including but not limited to: A steep decline in home values in the Phoenix area; future construction plans at the track; the fact that Bernard says he wants an early season race when PIR already has to sell tickets for two NASCAR weekends (mid-November and late February/early March) in the short time frame of about three months; and the years of outright neglect of the Arizona market by the IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway PR departments that has left the series and its drivers virtually invisible and thus largely unknown and unsellable; understands such a race would have a very high probability of being a significant financial loser for PIR and ISC. Scottsdale has been my home since 1994 and I can accurately report that the current local economy cannot support three PIR events in the space of three or four months. If IndyCar doubts that, it should do what it should have done in Milwaukee -- commission a survey to determine the level of public interest. That would be a sound business decision. Now -- while still wondering why the Indianapolis media just accepted what Bernard said and didn't call Sperber or Saunders months ago -- two journalistically-sound questions remain: 1) Will the radio show where Bernard launched his personal attack on Sperber -- and on which at least one of the hosts immediately took Bernard's side instead of what journalism demanded, which was to say, "We need to hear from Sperber on this" before rendering his judgment, invite Sperber onto the show to give his side of the story? 2) Since the bottom-line of this dispute appears to be if Bernard attempted to contact Sperber, can or will anyone produce actual evidence, such as phone records, call logs, or copies of the letter(s) or E-mail(s)?

[ more next Monday . . . ]