Bobby G. On the Soapbox

On the Soapbox: Where’s the Great Supermodified PR?


Some say that any supermodified PR is good supermodified PR. To a degree, that’s probably right. I think it’s better though when it’s done right,  and I would rather not see it when it’s done wrong. The latter seems to be more common than the former and I’m ready to see some GREAT supermodified PR again.

Writing great supermodified press releases, and/or maintaining good press relations is a thankless, time-consuming, tedious task. The people who do it miss out on the partying after the race and the writer or manager behind a keyboard is still there long past the time when the last hauler pulls out. I’ve done it and I’m here to shout it to you all that the pay is horrible, the hours long, the gratitude minimal, and the headaches too strong to be quelled by even a 12 pack of PBR.  Doing it right is very tough and even when it’s done half-assed it’s still not an easy job. But it can be made easier with knowledge and tools that are readily available.

Many of you will take this post as a slam or sour grapes. It’s not. Put it this way, there’s a lot of people thinking these things, but nobody will offer solutions or even say anything about it. Consider this On the Soapbox post a wake up call that as a whole, the supermodified PR department can be better.

What I do get is usually decent and with a little work here or there fits into the Wing Side Up mold, (we focus on supermodified racing here). But sometimes, the stuff that comes to my inbox simply makes me shake my head and spew my beer. Now this is coming from a guy that lives and breathes supermodified racing. Imagine what it’s like for a non-supermodified media outlet or a simple newspaper.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

On the other side of the page is the fact that many groups don’t even send press releases out and choose to use just social media to reach their fans. While Facebook’s demographic is continually shifting towards the main supermodified demographic, (45-62), it’s still important to put together a well written, concise release and send it to a variety of niche’ as well as main-stream media outlets.

I’ve stewed on missing the days of getting a press kit from ISMA, or an invitation to attend a press conference by Oswego Speedway. I long for the days that people like Linda Holdeman, Rhonda Costa, Ed Adair, Jack Calabrase, Denny Hudock, Jim Minnich, Lee Booze, Russ Conway, Randy Koontz, Gary Lindahl, Mick Schuler, Larry Boos, Jim Ferlito, Carol Haynes, and others spent time thinking about how to promote the product and then sent out great supermodified press releases in a timely, well-planned and thought out stream.

So here are some thoughts that I’ve been thinking lately when it comes to supermodified press releases, press relations, PR and to some degree marketing. This post should take about 10-12 minutes to read, so grab a PBR because it’s about three times as long as what great supermodified PR should be.

Too Much

I’m glad Oswego Speedway is sending out a lot of PR and according to my not so top-secret ways of finding out where the stuff is being published, (hint-keywords),  it looks like the PR is being published often and in varied places. The ‘Lady in Grey’ is in the news and that’s a good thing.

You won’t see some of the multitude of Oswego Speedway press releases  on this site because they don’t pertain to supermodified racing. We like karting, but we don’t need, nor can afford to take up server space for text concerning it.

PR managers should learn how to BCC emails they send. I’m pretty sure there’s more than a few like me that don’t appreciate having an email address displayed to people we don’t know.

PR managers should learn to seek out, nurture, speak to and consistently check up on media outlet managers that they are sending press releases too. These supermodified PR managers should be sure that each media outlet will use and genuinely WANT releases and once that is determined, should watch where said releases are being published. If the releases aren’t being published, are being cut down, or are not being published in a timely fashion, it would behoove the PR manager to contact the media outlet to seek solutions to any real or perceived problems.

“Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you are good.” Jean-Louis Gassee

PR managers that are using an email list that has been lifted from one of the previously aforementioned supermodified PR managers that don’t know how to BCC, should not feel offended when a media outlet asks to be removed from the mailing list, but one should still ask “why?”

By the same token, PR managers should understand how to segment their email list. Like I said before, I don’t have a website about go-kart racing or stock cars but am often included in mailings on such things. Having that happen on occasion is OK. All the time and it’s as annoying as bad announcing. Too much of a good thing that doesn’t get opened because it doesn’t pertain, is either manually sent to the spam folder, or in the case of Gmail, and now even Yahoo mail, automatically gets labeled as spam and the sender is no longer listed as trusted.  If you have any doubt about how it should be done, there’s plenty of outlets to learn from like I did.

I’m long-winded so I get the flowery prose. But if you send out a press release that’s longer than 800-1000 words it’s very possible that it’s not going to be posted, read or otherwise paid attention too. We’ve kind of gotten back to the old days where race results were limited to who, what, when, and where and if you were lucky, you could slide in the date of the next race. If you think I’m wrong, pick up a copy of Dick Berggren’s Speedway Illustrated to understand brevity.

Not Enough

You will see ISMA, MSA, ERA, Star Speedway, Lee USA Speedway, CSS, (what, wait, C what, what?), and Madera Speedway PR here on this site as often as they send it and as long as it pertains to supermodified racing.

Trouble is, none of them, (save for maybe ISMA when Carol Haynes forwards a release, or Bob Stascak when he sends me MSA stuff that he writes for the Elyria Chronicle), ever send press releases out. If they do, they don’t come here.

Let me also say this; if you are not sending releases to this website or any other website or paper just because you’ve got an axe to grind with me or any other writer, you are:

  1. Not doing the job you were hired or asked to do.
  2. You are only hurting yourself and/or your track/sanction and ultimately your sponsors, teams and fans.
  3. Grow a set and act like a professional or get out of the business.

There’s a reason many people like to say that the supermodified division is “the best kept secret in short track racing.” I say a lot more so keep reading if you want to know several.

Speaking of CSS,  (what, wait, CSS?), they are the new, (kind of),  360 supermodified group out of California. Led by good-guy Jeremiah Bearden, they are hoping to rebuild the 360 supermodifieds back to the CAM360 days of glory. Trouble is, not everyone has heard the good news. The schedule has been released but we didn’t get that memo, even after we emailed and asked to be put on the press list.

Same goes for Star Speedway and, since Bob Watson has been gone, Lee Speedway as well. We emailed when we caught wind of what was going on at Star, but we’ve not heard back. If we’re not getting this stuff, as a site that specializes in supermodified racing, well, you know the rest.

Speaking of schedules and press releases, the only one we got here, from ANY of the supermodified sanctions and/or tracks was from Oswego. ISMA had a bit of one in their banquet press release that came out in November, (yes, November was the last time I’ve received anything from ISMA other than the fan email by Marsha Gadzera), but something tells me that schedule is old news.

“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” Oscar Wilde

When Social Media is Socially Unacceptable

Sanctions and tracks that take to social media to keep their fans informed aren’t really ahead of the game. They are just doing what should be done in the 21st century.

Sanctions and tracks that print full press releases on their social media pages or feeds, and use social media as the main form of communication for their fans, (a.k.a. as a website), aren’t doing what should be done in the 21st century. Does anyone within the supermodified community understand content marketing and driving traffic to a website and then promoting that website content through social media?

Sanctions and tracks that use social media as a form of free advertising are doing what should be done in the 21st century.

Sanctions and tracks that use social media as a form of free advertising to the point of being spam don’t have a clue about what social media is really about. It’s called ‘social’ for a reason. Don’t talk at the customer, talk WITH them. Quantity does not equal quality in this department and in the long run it kills you, especially on Facebook.

“Social Media is about the people! Not about your business. Provide for the people and the people will provide for you.” Matt Goulart

Again, segmentation and A/B split tests are important. But then, if all you care about is telling people about how much of their hard-earned money they’ll have to spend vs. giving them reasons to buy into the brand and want to spend their hard-earned money as repeat customers or new customers, you probably don’t want to know about your customer to begin with.

Things That Make Me Spew Beer

I laughed when I got the PR about the race in Sandusky that was supposed to happen last year. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Oh and I did spew beer.

Press releases about ticket prices or gate times for the upcoming season that are sent out in January when the season doesn’t start until May? Uhhmm….where did I put that email again? Beer spewage. That’s a word I just used as an homage to a particular Strong Racing family member.

Making racers buy tickets to a banquet to be eligible to receive point fund money that they’ve paid for all season long, (by buying pit passes, tires, etc.), then posting it on the front page of a website and in social media as PR, doesn’t make me spew beer, I spit it out in disgust.

Attention to detail, or rather lack of it. A 41-year-old sanctioning body pumping up a race that is 90 days away, then posting a graphic and not realizing the wrong date is on the graphic.  Yup, I spewed beer on that one.

Expecting supermodified drivers/teams to write and send their own press releases. On second thought, I’ll never spew beer over this because I’m too busy drinking it with the supermodified drivers/teams when they should be writing and submitting great PR.

On a side note is it good or bad supermodified PR when in one post and graphic our favorite division is spelled “super modified” and in another it’s spelled “supermodified” and in another it’s spelled “Supermodified” even when it’s not being used in a title or the first word in a sentence?  I know my grammar and sentence structure isn’t perfect, but at least it’s consistently imperfect. For the record; it’s supermodified unless it’s Novelis Supermodified or Corr-Pak Supermodified or Town Money Saver Supermodified Series, or at the beginning of a sentence. It should NEVER be two words in my opinion. You can ask me why I feel this way in the comments section and when you read my response, you may spew beer.

Telling a supermodified sanctioning body member in the body of an email that has a monthly members only newsletter as a PDF attachment, that if they haven’t paid their dues, that the newsletter they have just received will be their last. Then listening to a member of that supermodified sanctioning body say “When I opened the newsletter it was from December and I didn’t get it until February. So I’m thinking that I get two more issues of my member newsletter before I make sure my dues are paid.” My phone hasn’t worked right since I spewed beer all over it.

Press releases that are about a ‘marketing partner’ but contain no quotes from that marketing partner about how excited the marketing partner is to be working with the supermodified sanction and/or track that is talking about the marketing partner in a press release. If the press release doesn’t include out-going links to the marketing partner’s product or service, and/or graphics, (that are web optimized), I usually spew beer on my keyboard.

Not telling fans about the cancellation of a race date in some great supermodified PR that comes from your sanctioning body or track won’t make me spew beer, but I can guarantee that the fans will throw beer when they show up at the track wanting to see race cars.

Remember the Oswego Speedway Mini-Eagle and then the Cyber-Eagle? So do I and often wonder why there’s no such thing anymore. It was a good way to get some supermodified news out in the winter. Come to think of it, I can’t figure out why most of the supermodified sanctions or tracks are actively putting out a regular email newsletter that can be used to deepen customer relations and track click-through rates  that can increase souvenir sales at the website.

I just typed, customer relations, click-through rates and souvenir sales at the website in the same sentence. I’m glad I didn’t just take a swig of beer.

Do you miss seeing great supermodified PR or did this On the Soapbox post make you spew beer? I’d love to know what you think so leave a comment below or email me HERE!

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4 thoughts on “On the Soapbox: Where’s the Great Supermodified PR?”

  1. I think your analysis could be applied across the entire spectrum of motorsports with the possible exception of NASCAR. Racing in general either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about pr. The local tracks in my area seem to be satisfied with the status quo. You only hear from them through e-mail, and I suppose, social media which I avoid for several reasons. They get zero media coverage because they don’t buy ad space and apparently don’t cultivate relationships with media personnel and outlets. There seems to be an underlying malaise based on a misconception that what we have is the best we can hope for because we cannot compete with other sports and entertainment. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make a lot of valid points. I had a friend tell me “I believe the problem stems from the change in “journalism” – most of the people who wrote releases in the past understood or were journalists.” Even so, the tools are out there to help. I agree that it’s a case of being satisfied with mediocrity rather than asking “how can it be great?” Thanks for reading. Enjoyed your thoughts on this subject.

      Like

  2. Very well said. Now time for my rants, in addition to yours…There is a couple things that I haven’t understood for a while, one being the lack of marketing around a team/organization. A team is out there trying to find sponsorships, what are they selling? The logo placement on the car? Sorry, but that won’t cut it any longer. They want to know what are you going to do for me other than a logo on car. You need to market their brand that to your/supermodified fans via press releases, social media, at-track activities, off-track appearance, etc. Supermodifieds are not secret down here in the south, everyone loves them and wish they could get more of it. Personally speaking, why not build off what Danny K. at Oswego is doing at Oswego as well with the MAVtv deal and get your team/organization out in the public more. In the grand scheme of it, it may be a little bit of work, but it’s not all that hard. There is an easy fix to this, simply find a Communications/English/Sports Marketing/Management major in college that needs to fulfill a internship and have them cover the sport. I would love to see more coverage of the supers, but there isn’t anyone working towards that. Aside from a couple teams/organizations ( I think you can tell who they are) the social media presence sucks! It only takes a little bit of time to get back on track and get supers the coverage they deserve.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Boy you sure nailed it JColby but then I wouldn’t expect much less from you. The best part about teams/drivers wanting sponsorship is that many think that just because they are in a supermodified it justifies someone forking over the cash. Que the gong now. Sorry folks-if you aren’t marketable to begin with and then bust your tail to provide a ROI, fahgetaboutit! And if as a driver/team you’re not willing to help your track or sanction…I’ve got nothing to say when you whine because you can’t buy tires this week.

      I’ve said for years, dating back to ISMA’s first foray into NC during those early heady days of NASCAR fever that, if you can have a plan on how you are going to not only attract sponsorship, but also how you are going to maintain it, then go for it. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money for all parties except the promoter that is charging more at both gates.

      Completely agree with the intern comment. The key part is….”Communications/English/Sports Marketing/Management major in college” and then making sure that as the PR Manager you are actively training and teaching and that you also have safeguards in place to protect you if said intern decides to go to a frat party and do a beer bong then unwittingly post to your instagram, (let’s face it, a college intern is NOT posting to FB anymore), a picture that he thought was going to his own account. Danny is doing a very good job at the O. There’s a lot to be said for how far it’s come, and a lot of that has to do with owners that have given up the reigns. There’s still a long way to go though and some of this post touched on that-i.e. too many releases in a short amount of time, segmentation, etc. etc.

      OK that reply was long enough for another column…errr…post…but thank you for taking the time to leave your thoughts on this subject, I appreciate it. Maybe a guest column is in order??

      Like

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