|PR & Marketing Tips - How Race Promoters Can Deliver
by Rhonda Mims-Brown
Many race promoters are missing the boat when it comes to fulfilling all responsibilities associated with running a race. This segment in our PR & Marketing Tips series focuses on one of the ways promoters can deliver on two of the biggest complaints today in karting without a great deal of effort.
What are the two major aspects racers expect and are seldom delivered by promoters? Event spectators and news follow up. Many businesses and promoters in karting will admit to being overloaded with work, barely getting the tasks involved with running a race accomplished. With entry fees and profit levels increasing, racers expect and deserve more than just track time and a trophy for their money. What Iíve noticed as a primary lack from promoters is their focus on gaining pre-event publicity outside of the karting industry that can be key to bringing in spectators. Thereís also a lack of event public relations follow up through submissions of news and results to the general karting media. This segment will focus on the spectator aspects and the techniques of race follow up will unveil in a future segment.
We receive numerous news releases pertaining to events Ė all geared to get the racer to their event. Even from the most top notch of series promoters, what Iíve noticed from the news releases is an oversight in sending this news to media outside of karting. Although most news releases are written and geared to the karting community, taking the time to format a simple news release geared to the general public about karting and an event can be rewarding. It can benefit the promoterís check book, the dealers and sponsors associated with an event and appease the racers who crave a grandstand filled people from outside of karting.
Letís examine easy ways for a promoter to deliver on the spectator aspects:
Bringing in the Spectators
| A spectator base like this one shown would be the envy of all promoters|
A simple general public news release about an upcoming event can be compiled to suit the location of each event on a seriesí schedule and easily changed to be used over and over. Karting is a great sport only recently coming out of the closet and gaining national recognition. Along with the national recognition in magazines like Road and Track and Stock Car comes a great deal of interest to capitalize on in order to gain local publicity. This publicity value can serve multiple purposes like bringing in spectators to help drivers shine, increase public awareness and help sponsors gain new sales contacts. .
Listed below is a sample lead paragraph a promoter could use in their general news release that includes the ďFive WísĒ of journalism. This term refers to the who, what, where when and why that should always be summarized in the opening paragraph of a news release. Itís done this way for the purpose of gaining an editorís attention and to provide a reader with basic details to determine if the story is interesting enough to them to read further.
For Immediate Release Ė Nov. 5
The sport of kart racing has a blemish to rid - the words go and cart beginning with a C. Since its inception in 1959, only recently has the sport gained national media recognition and a rightful place in the line up of motor sports competition. Unlike the rental variety of go-carts used for family amusement, nationally ranked kart racers intend to banish the associations to area residents by competing wheel to wheel in their tiny high-tech race karts quite unlike the rental variety. North Texas Kartway (NTK), located just north of Denton, will be the proving ground for 300 drivers at the Rotax Max Grand Nationals Nov. 8-10. This prestigious event will produce great racing action to rival the likes of Indy Car competition with top level drivers from across North America contesting for a shot at a national title and an all expense paid trip to race in Egypt. Among those drivers is Jordon Musser from Coppell, Texas who will attempt a re-peat for the Rotax National Championship title.
Now, letís review the opening paragraph to determine the five Wís
● Who: 300 nationally ranked kart drivers; local driver Jordon Musser
● What: Rotax Grand Nationals; showing off the sport. . .
● Where: North Texas Kartway, just north of Denton
● When: Nov. 8-10
● Why: To win a national championship title and an all expense paid trip to Egypt.
While the lead paragraph may sound corny to those of us within the sport, it provides a basic review of karting for a news editor and includes facts he or she would use to determine if they have an interest in either running the news release as is or for developing a feature story for the event and written by a staff member.
The key points on why the opening paragraph was structured this way are:
1. Karting as a racing sport is still unknown to many editors and the general public. A brief explanation of how it differs from the widely known concession karts is needed to differentiate the two.
2. The inclusion of North Texas Kartway and its location gives the editor further reason for consideration because itís local news.
3. National attention of anything to an area is another big seller to an editor. Note Iíve included statements that include drivers from across North America and in the status of the event as being a prestigious National event.
4. The inclusion of local racer Jordon Musser adds in even further personal interest to a story that tells an editor about an accomplished local driver who will also compete
5. Impressive numbers are also an attention getter. Here I used 300 racers and an expensive trip to Egypt to help establish prestige. One warning; however, donít inflate or lie about the facts or youíll ruin your reputation with an editor.
| Send in a good shot like this and include photo credits|
(Photo by Jane Kamin Oncea)
Now that weíve established the editorís attention, the news release can continue with more details with the most important facts positioned up front. It could go something like this:
The primary stigma of the common term go-cart is too often associated with the bulky low speed rental carts used at concession tracks for families to enjoy. What the karting with a K folks want to achieve is recognition of karting as an exciting and affordable form of family style motorsports with classes suited for drivers aged eight and up. Six racing classes will compete at NTKís half mile road course utilizing sophisticated high-tech chassisí and racing engines, some of which are capable of speeds in excess of 80 miles-per-hour.
Rotax competition is among kart racingís fastest growing segments due to the low maintenance aspects of the 125cc engine manufactured by Bombardier, makers of snowmobile, personal water-craft and other recreational rides. Mount the 28 horsepower engine on a 180 pound kart with an electric start button and trills are abundant due to the power to weight ratio. Providing the backdrop of competition through a regional and national racing series for owners of Rotax equipment is also a feature the company offers that adds to the excitement level.
For Musser, whoís always had an interest in motor racing, but lacked in a budget to contest in expensive formula cars, the Rotax series was a good alternative thatís excelled the local racer into the national limelight. What started with the purchase of a used chassis three years ago for $1,200 and a new Rotax engine for $2,400, has excelled him into a competitive sport where he was crowned as the seriesí National Champion and eared an all-expense paid trip to contest in the World Rotax Finals held last year in South Africa. Musserís intentions are to repeat his win earned at the Las Vegas nationals last year and a second trip across the globe to contest in Egypt against some of the worldís best drivers for a world title.
Not only does the sport of karting offer a high level of competitive aspects, itís also well suited for a family whoís just out for a weekend of fun under local competition . . .
The news release can progress from here and shouldnít be any longer than a page and a half at the most. Be sure to include a dateline, the promoterís contact info within the release and one good photo attachment of a kart in action. More specific details regarding the structure of a news release and how to obtain media contacts can be found in a previous PR & Marketing Tips article at http://www.ekartingnews.com/news_info.php?n=2072 Lastly, be sure to submit the news well in advance of the event, perhaps two to three weeks prior and donít call them, they will call you if they are interested.
The initial efforts required to write this news release can be tenfold in benefits. For starters, be prepared to order more pit passes and hot dogs at the concession stand. Reaching the masses should your news make the print of a major daily news paper will draw people in if the weather is good and youíre not scheduled on top of the Super Bowl.
Establish Reasonable Prices for Spectators
Once youíve invited your guests out to see what karting is all about, donít run them off with excessive prices. The challenge many promoters face is the keeping of a guard at the trackís entrance but having someone on hand at the gate will pay for itself with admission fees. My personal thoughts are that admission prices for spectators should be a non profit situation at this time in karting or at the very least, minimal. The entertainment value of watching a kart race is worth something, but not at a cost of $20 per person for the family who just wants to watch. Set a price of around $5 for adults and free admission for kids 12 and under.
In order to accommodate spectators and meet the requirements of safety required by insurance companies under-writing the event, tracks need to have an established area of protection boundaries for uninsured spectators that include a fenced in grand stand for seating and access to the concession stand without having to cross through the pit area. Many newer and modern race tracks incorporate this into their design and some organizations require a segmented area for spectators prior to giving them sanctioning approval.
To carry things further and offer spectators an up close and personal experience, a promoter can enhance their admission to include a pit access entry offered after a specific time of day at an affordable cost that is different from what the racerís group pays. Managing the two groups of admissions for the racer and their family/crew and the spectator is a challenging concern. Promoters rely on income derived from the sales of pit passes to help make ends meet and distinguishing between the two groups is difficult and could be viewed as unfair by a few of the racers on hand. Knowing that you canít make all happy is race rule number one for a promoter so get beyond it. Establishing a system as described below will make the majority of racers happy, especially the racers who want to sell used equipment and dealers on hand who rely on a steady stream of new business.
Spectators who arrive at an event prior to noon can purchase a $5 general admission ticket that allows them access into the grand stand area. The ďup close and personalĒ admission package allows spectators to return to the entry gate to redeem their general admission ticket at an additional charge of $5. This additional charge will earn them access into the pit area after 12 noon, or a designated time when most racers and crews have already arrived. Promoters would then have the spectator fill out the paper work to receive the pit pass that insures their protection to a limited degree as well as a promoterís own liability. Many tracks open up access to the pit area after the races are concluded. This is also a great idea; however promoters should inquire about their liability protection at that stage of an event and always make sure they sign the insurance waiver regardless of the admission they receive.
If a promoter is barely treading water to stay afloat in the day to day operation of running a race event, seek out the assistance of a second or third year journalism or public relations student at a local university. Contact the journalism departmentís director, tell them what youíre in need of and see if they can recommend any of their students who have press release skills and want to earn a few extra bucks. Compensations to students should range from $50 to $75 for the basic story which a promoter should be able to edit for future use. Local colleges also have a bulletin board where you can send in a post card type employment ad for your needs and most colleges are happy to post.
Have Promotional Materials on Hand
Every promoter should have promotional karting materials on hand at the entry gate for spectators to learn more about racing as well as a schedule for local racing activity. Seek out promotional material to pass out or create your own. Ekartingnews offers an Intro to Karting electronic brochure to give you ideas of how to explain and promote the sport that is free for the asking. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and Iíll send you this informative promotional piece thatís written for the general publicís education. In addition, I wrote a similar brochure for the International Kart Federation thatís available for purchase at a minimal cost. This is a sleek production with 20 pages and full of color photographs and sections explaining each division of karting and how to get started. Contact IKF at (909) 923-4999 or via e-mail at email@example.com to inquire about purchasing a bundle of these.
The PSA Ė Another Form of News Release for Radio
In addition, there are numerous opportunities for promoters in the form of a simple ďPSA.Ē A PSA stands for public service announcement. Itís written a bit differently than a news release and often picked up and used by radio and smaller TV stations, particularly if it offers their listeners a value and particularly if the club has a non-profit status. Iíve used PSAís on several occasions when promoting a special event and 90 percent of the time, they get picked up by a radio station. Iíve always been blown away at the results in the spectator increases it produces. Hereís a sample of how to write one. Note they are done is all upper case with double line spacing for the copy (slang for actual text), although it's not double spaced in the example below.
PSA FOR RELEASE NOV. 6, 2003
NORTH TEXAS KARTERS Ė NON PROFIT CLUB
CONTACT JOE PRESIDENT AT (800) 555-1212
ďFOR THOSE THRILL SEEKING RACE FANS, LOCAL RACING CLUB,
NORTH TEXAS KARTERS, IS HOSTING THE ROTAX GRAND NATIONALS
THIS WEEKEND IN DENTON. THIS EVENT WILL BRING SOME OF THE BEST KART RACING TALENT FROM ACROSS NORTH AMERICA TO CONTEST AT SPEEDS UP TO 80 MPH. THESE KARTS ARE AMAZING TO WATCH AND VERY MUCH UNLIKE THE RENTAL VARIETY. ACTION BEGINS AT 8 A.M. ON SATURDAY AND CONTINUES THROUGHOUT THE WEEKEND. NTK IS LOCATED JUST NORTH OF DENTON OFF OF I-35 AT MILAM ROAD. CALL THE NTK HOTLINE FOR MORE INFORMATION AT (800) 555-1212 OR VISIT THEIR WEB SITE AT http://WWW.NTKARTERS.COM
Since many tracks are located in the boonies, good signage for recognition and providing directions to the trackís location is important. One of the countries biggest organizations missed the moment of opportunity at their racing event held at a major race track in conjunction with an IRL event. There were thousands of spectators on hand for the weekend of activities, but only the persistent and die hard karting fans in the area managed to figure out how to find them and how to get inside. From my observation, there was only one small sign that said something like ďShifter KartsĒ or ďSKUSAĒ situated off the back parking lot far away from the course. Signage should have been placed along the fencing surrounding the track with guards who had pass outs with instructions on how to enter. The over sight was most likely due to a lack of personnel to manage the signage aspects. Certainly, a major missed opportunity that should have produced good awareness from a prime target market for karting.
Not to hash on the karting giant, but other missed opportunities probably resulted in the oversight of the karting event in any of the communications that Texas Motor Speedway sent out, including some event news on their web site. This is just speculation, but from my experience in hosting races with pro-level events, management typically welcomes karting event info but their staff is overloaded as well so itís up to the karting promoter to ensure this kind of material gets in their hands. Again, this is not to bash the organization as more than likely, theyíve learned a valuable lesson and will improve on the next go round.
In the long run, I feel promoters will be happy with the results the above examples can provide to them. We at Ekartingnews hope this has been informative and helpful in each of our desires to increase the level of awareness of our sport and through efforts of professionalism.