As a race driver, you are likely to have come across the media. Chances are that you will also have at least one or two social media accounts and a website. So you think ‘My communication strategy is covered. I don’t need anything else.’ Well, it’s not that simple.
The good news is that there are many different approaches to media and public relations. Some of them work, some don’t. Let me start with those that won’t work.
When you hear the words ‘media and public relations’ do you think…
- That’s only for the big guns.
Well, yes and no. It is true that most successful race drivers have a communication strategy in place to protect their image and to streamline demands from the media and the public. Otherwise, there would be chaos and they’d have no time to concentrate on their sport.
But how do you think they got to where they are today? Determination, talent, money, even a bit of luck might have played a part. However, they most certainly also had a strategy, right from the start, to learn how to be a public figure, how to get more media coverage, how to meet the fans, how to address potential sponsors, how to respond in a crisis.
You can do the same, and use as many or as few communication channels as you like, but you have to start somewhere. In my experience, there is simply no way around media and public relations if you want to climb up the series ladder in international motorsports.
More wrong approaches to media and public relations
- I hate being in the limelight.
Admittedly, a tricky situation. Because, by definition, attention comes with the territory of a successful race driver, whether he or she likes it or not. The good news is that you can decide how much of a public figure you want to be, so that you feel comfortable with your image at all times. And the right communication channels (i.e. right for you!) will help you do just that. Also, it is a process. You don’t have to start with all channels at once. One step at a time will gradually ease you into the process, and who knows, you might actually like getting some attention!
Or do you think…
- Winning races will do the trick.
Agreed, that’s a good start. But chances are, it won’t be enough.
The specialized motorsport media will of course write about the race, possibly mention your name and even talk a bit about how the race played out for you. But the article will still be about the race, not you. And it is likely to be read by people who are already interested in motorsports anyway.
If you keep on winning, very quickly you’ll get to the point where you need coverage outside of the specialized media to grow your public image. A fact that is particularly important to attract sponsors. But getting the general or lifestyle media to write about you is a whole different story, quite literally. So you will have to convince them that it is your story that they need to tell. Ideally, from your point of view.
The right approach
So, what approach to motorsport media and public relations will work? Well, the right approach is the one you feel comfortable with. It’s as simple as that. Numerous race drivers have shown that there are numerous ways to communicate with the media, the fans and the general public. Just think of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel or Charles Leclerc, and you’ll see what I mean.
So, what’s your approach to media and public relations? Do you have one or do you just ‘wait and see’? If it is the latter, maybe it’s time to get in touch.