From my beginnings as a PR assistant for an international rally team in Germany, to moving to the UK to gain my first experience in single-seater racing and becoming the F1 Press Delegate and spokeswoman for the motorsport governing body based in France, to setting up my own agency specializing in motorsports media and public relations, that is my 20+ years’ career in international motorsports a nutshell.
If you rather listen than read, check out the podcast I have made with Ryan Hunt for Formula Access.
My first steps in motorsports PR
Nothing predestined me for a career in motorsports. I got my first job in this field completely by accident in the mid-nineties, as somehow, I convinced Toyota’s World Rally Championship team (TTE) at the time to give me a job as a press and PR assistant. The first few weeks were intense as I had to learn everything about rallies and racing. I stayed with the team for several years until they were found cheating and got banned from rallying by the FIA, the world governing body for motorsports. A few years later, when I had become the Formula One Press Delegate for the FIA, I told Max Mosley the story. He found it very funny.
My first contact with single-seater racing and Formula One
But before I could tell Max the story, I moved to the UK as I had been offered a job as an account manager at an international motorsports PR agency. I learned a lot, from media accreditation and running media installations at a race weekend to developing up and executing PR campaigns for sponsors or race circuits. I also worked in a multitude of series, from ITC via GT to Formula 1. These were interesting times, and living abroad for the first time after having been born and bred in Germany was a dream come true for the linguist that I am at heart (and by initial training).
Moving on to … Paris and the FIA
When I got offered an opportunity by the FIA to work at their Paris Headquarters, I jumped at the opportunity. Initially, it was to cover for a maternity leave in their WRC Department and as rallying had no secrets for me after my time at Toyota Team Europe, I accepted. It was great renewing with old contacts and familiar faces in rallying. I also really liked the FIA communications team, so the six months flew by. At the end, they wanted me to stay too – as their Formula One Press Delegate! I had seen former press delegates in that role when I was working for the National Press Team at Formula One races before, so I didn’t really fancy the role – and said No! Luckily for me, they insisted and after setting a few ground rules I accepted. I started my role for the 2005 season.
Being the FIA Formula One Press Delegate
It was one of the best professional decisions I have ever made. Admittedly, it was a steep learning curve again. The role might be best described as a buffer between the FIA and the media, trying to find a common ground between the official rules and what the media needs. One tough role to be in. I was responsible for the national media staff, overall media accreditation and, the correct running of all media facilities. Moreover, there was the official part as the FIA F1 spokesperson and in any spare time, I was running the usual PR activities too. I worked with and met some fascinating people and I became a master of crisis communication with several ‘Gates’ still (in)famous to this day: Spy-Gate, Lie-Gate, Singapore-Gate and, most poignant of all, Mosley-Gate. I also had to deal with a number of serious accidents on track and relay the facts to the media.
Leading Pirelli’s communication for their return to F1
After six years as the F1 Press Delegate and Communication Manager for the FIA, I got offered another interesting job. Pirelli was looking for their Head of F1 Communication to develop and implement their PR strategy for their return to Formula One after 20 years. I accepted the role because it was another challenge. To construct a communication strategy for the sole tyre supplier in F1 (and in any other category) isn’t easy. Why? In a nutshell, because when the driver wins, it is thanks to him and the team, when he loses, it is due to the tyres… I still managed to come up with interesting PR opportunities, the tyre fitting challenge of Pirelli’s Sporting Director Paul Hembery against 4-times world champion Sebastian Vettel being just one of them. I also steered the company through a very difficult third year when there was a serious issue with several tyres exploding, most notably at the 2013 British Grand Prix.
Setting up my PR agency
I stayed with Pirelli for four years but after having travelled the world with Formula One for nearly 15 years, I decided that I had seen enough of airports and hotels. That’s when I started my own company, AS Sports Communication, in 2016. In the year before I had already successfully launched Lingua Communicators, a communication and language agency specializing in communication strategies adapted to German, French, and English-speaking markets as well as language services such as translations.
But racing has played an important part in most of my professional career. What initially started by accident, has turned into a career spanning over more than two decades. International sports communication is a fascinating field, so today I am putting my PR skills, extensive network and experience at the disposal of racing drivers, teams, sponsors, circuits, series, and motorsport affiliates who want to build, maintain or improve their public profile with the help of tailored media and public relations.
But before you decide to work with me, here’s a list of my main PR skills:
Advice on and implementation of motorsport PR strategies: With over 20 years of experience in international motorsports PR, I am today in a position to pass on my knowledge to young drivers to help them grow into this high-pressured and high-performance world that is international racing. I also help experienced drivers to strategize and manage their media exposure. I advise and support teams, sponsors, racing series, circuits and companies affiliated with motorsport on how to manage their external media and public relations to get the best return on their motorsport commitment.
Generating media coverage: I have generated extensive international media coverage (print, online, TV and radio) with media outlets like the BBC, CNN, RTL Germany, TV3 Spain, Canal + France, France TV, TF1, International Herald Tribune, The Times, The Guardian, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Bild Zeitung, Gala Germany, l’Equipe, Paris Match, RMC or France Inter, to name but a few.
Building and managing media relations: I have worked with hundreds of media representatives from all over the world from TV, radio, print or online outlets, both in sports and general media. The result is established relationships which have grown over the last 20 years. Whether you would like to pitch a story, invite a journalist for a media event or tell a media representative your side of the story, chances are I can help.
Being a spokesperson and first point of contact for the media: I was the media spokesperson for the motorsport governing body (FIA) and Pirelli in Formula One. I have replied to many journalists in different languages, arranged interviews and prepared spokespeople on how to reply to media inquiries.
Handling a crisis from a media and PR point of view: I was in the eye of the (media) storm when Toyota Team Europe got found cheating at a WRC event in the late 90’s and while at the FIA, I dealt with several Formula One ‘gates’ like Spy-Gate, Lie-Gate, Singapore-Gate and Mosley-Gate. I also handled all media inquiries following the serious accidents of Robert Kubica (Canada 2007) and Felipe Massa (Hungary 2009). At Pirelli, I steered them through their difficult third year of their return to F1 when a number of tyres blew up, mainly at the 2013 Silverstone GP.
Writing and editing: Whether it’s a press release, a media kit, a blog article, an interview, or website copy, I have written a few of those. My main working languages are English, German and French but other languages are possible too. If copy already exists, I edit it for you to make sure it fits your target audience.
Setting up and running media facilities at motorsport events: I worked on the media staff at different international motorsport races for many years and I was in charge of the set-up of the media facilities and operations for the inaugural Chinese and Bahrain Formula One Grands Prix in 2004. While working for the FIA, I was also responsible for the overall management of all media operations at every Formula One race world-wide (400+ media representatives; 50+ local staff).
With Simon Pagenaud, unveiling the Indy 500 Borg Warner trophy
With Sebastian Vettel during the Belgian Grand Prix
What others wrote about me
"I needed to develop my communication in France and I had heard of Alexandra Schieren. I needed someone that could work from France while I am in the USA, someone disciplined and organized. AS Sports Communication is the most thorough and professional team I have ever worked with in PR. I would recommend them without a doubt!"
Simon Pagenaud – INDYCAR Driver and winner of the 2019 Indianapolis 500
"We have worked with Alexandra on a couple of occasions to organize and run PR activities for IndyCar in France. The victory tour for Simon Pagenaud on the occasion of his Indy 500 win in 2019 stands out in particular. A full week of events, which included the unveiling of the BorgWarner trophy, two full days of media interviews and numerous live shows in various parts of France, were organized perfectly and with outstanding results. Alexandra has an extensive knowledge of the French media market and the contacts to go with. She manages the most stressful situations with a smile and her professionalism and attention to detail make her a perfect partner for us. I can recommend Alexandra to anyone who is looking for positive results from their PR activities in France."
MARK D. MILES | President and Chief Executive Officer
PENSKE ENTERTAINMENT CORP
“Having worked with Alexandra for many years in Formula 1, I have always been impressed with her PR skills. She has an extensive view of media and public relations and knows how to answer any media inquiry, even the most difficult ones. Formula 1 is a stressful environment but Alexandra has always kept her calm and smile. She is a real professional and knows what she is talking about. I can only recommend Alexandra and her team to anyone who would like to raise their profile in international motorsports.”
Michael ‘Herbie’ Blash - Director Activasports
"Alexandra Schieren has been working for our company, Bilster Berg Drive Resort GmbH & Co. KG, a test and presentation track near Bad Driburg, Germany, for two years. She has been supporting us with our media relations with great success. Since working together, we have already been able to gain significantly higher media interest, both in Germany and abroad. We can count on Alexandra to get things done. Communication between us is smooth, she is always available and helpful. We look forward to continuing our cooperation in the future!"
Hans-Jürgen von Glasenapp, Managing Director Bilster Berg Drive Resort GmbH & Co. KG
"AS Sports Communication and Alexandra Schieren support the German “Deutscher Sportfahrer Kreis“ (DSK), the organization of pilots, managers, stewards, enterprises and also spectators in promoting motorsports in a very effective and professional communication strategy including derived measures. DSK is the largest European organization of its kind with some 13.000 members. We are the special interest association for active driving within all of motorsport’s disciplines, including track day driving on four or two wheels. With the expertise of Alexandra, we have improved our public visibility and interaction with important German and European media. Her background is really excellent to contribute as a sounding board, thus providing an external view on our public relations strategy. AS Sports Communication delivers value to the DSK."
Dr. Karl-Friedrich Ziegahn, President, Deutscher Sportfahrer Kreis e.V.
"Alexandra has an extensive 360-degree understanding of how the media works in every area, together with the rare and intuitive ability to get on with everyone. That’s undoubtedly down to her multi-cultural and multi-lingual background, which means that she can cover a huge amount of ground in a short space of time on any campaign, thanks also to an impressive network of international contacts. Somehow, she manages to combine all of that with an innate cheerfulness and positivity, which makes her a true pleasure to work with as well as a model of professionalism and efficiency."
Anthony Peacock, Managing Director
"I first met Alex at the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix. She was leading the communication team tasked with setting up the F1 media centre and all related press activities for the event Promoter. I was immediately impressed with her professionalism, effectiveness and commitment in managing the most challenging of media markets F1 had encountered to that point. [.... ]
I have nothing but praise for Alex and anyone fortunate enough to have her in their organisation will quickly realise the benefit of working with such an experienced and talented communications professional."
Richard Woods - Communications and Strategy Advisor - FIA
"Alexandra is one of the best PR persons I have worked with during my stint as PR at Fuji International Speedway. Punctual, precise yet understanding the domestic media needs in a foreign country, it was not only a pleasure, but a great learning experience for me as well. With a wide and deep proficiency in language, I highly recommend Alexandra in the field of international PR."
Jun Terashima - Communications Director - Dentsu Meitetsu Communications Inc.
"I have worked with Alexandra for a few years in Bahrain and highly recommend her. Her PR skills and professionalism was something we truly appreciate. I learnt a lot about leadership watching her manage her team."
Chief Executive at Bahrain International Circuit
I specialise in motorsports media and public relations. So whether you are a race driver, a team, a sponsor, a circuit or otherwise affiliated with national or international motorsport, here's how we can work together.
How do you get published in your target media with the story you would like to see? How do you get your message across?
More and more, sustainability is becoming a major part in the communication strategy of company worldwide. The impact on its image can be significant, especially in motorsports, which often carries a negative public reputation to that regard.