• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, May 05, 2013

AMERICA's RACE MONTH

I'll say it again this year as I have for many, many years:

May is America's race month.

Talladega, Darlington, Charlotte, Laguna Seca, Englishtown, Indianapolis, Monaco (counts since there is again a U.S. Grand Prix), the 500, the 600, and short-track action from coast-to-coast.

It's a time to enjoy the racing. Celebrate the stars. Appreciate the fans.

Within the industry, it's also a time to step-up, work harder, do better. Given that May turns the light bulb on to motorsports in newsrooms around the country, and given the coverage challenges faced by many series, NOW is when the MAXIMUM PROFESSIONAL effort needs to be made.

People have GOT to raise their game.

It doesn't cut it when I get a release saying a driver is going to compete in all five USAC Silver Crown pavement races but not one single date or location is listed. Or when I get post-race recaps from a NASCAR Truck team on Monday or Tuesday for races that happened Friday or Saturday. Or releases with the usual tripe about a driver is "excited" and "looking forward to" a race -- instantly deleted here.

People should not be writing NEWS releases if they haven't passed a basic News Writing 101 course. Proper news releases are written for the benefit of the media, not the ego of sponsor bosses. And then these people wonder why their stuff isn't used!

It continues to be a head-shaker at how many publicists don't update their distribution lists. I know of some writers who haven't covered the sport in years who still get releases while those who have assumed those duties don't. Ditto for updating lists for media events, press conferences, etc. It's nuts-and-bolts, non-glamorous, but important basic work. This is called paying attention to the details. It's one thing PR people are paid to do.

Finally, May is a good time for reflection, especially by those organizations who show little or no appreciation to those who have provided years and decades of good help -- sometimes far beyond the reasonable call of duty. ABC/ESPN and the Penske Racing and Goodyear so-called "PR" people top my current list of non-appreciaters. As I have pointed out for a long time -- in the example of Jim Chapman (as important a Business of Racing figure at the Indy 500 as there ever has been and who should be in the Speedway's Hall of Fame) -- this is a people business. That personal touch and demonstration of gratitude will never, ever be replaced by an E-mail, Tweet or IM.

Shame on those who collect a PR paycheck who don't get that. Or simply refuse to make the effort. 

[ more next Monday . . . ]