Great racing drivers are "remarkable"

I think it might be a little early to proclaim 22-year old  as the “best ever” Formula 1 racing driver , “” or predict he will be this year’s champion

But who can argue with Frank Williams assessment that his podium finishes in his first ever three races is “remarkable”?  From a public relations perspective, I mean that peole are talking about, remarking upon, this young man.  He already has an impressive entry, has generated miles of media coverage and is recognised beyond the motorsport world.

Word of mouth is a great asset – if people are interested in your story, product or organisation, then the public relations task is much easier in many respects.  But there are dangers in that you can end up being focused on reactive rather than proactive communications – and need to watch that the pendulum of praise doesn’t swing. 

One bad race and all the claims about being the next Michael Schumacher/Ayton Senna/Jim Clarke/Stirling Moss (pick your generation) will disappear in a cloud of disappointment. 

Expectations soon get out of all proportion (witness the national football/rugby/cricket teams).   There is some evidence online that fans are frustrated by the way that mainstream media is already over excited by a potential British star.  And, we know the tabloids have a tendency to “big ’em up, bring ’em down.”

Managing public and media relations needs a long-term strategy – so although the immediate headlines and benefits of being “remarkable” will be great news for all the PR folk involved with Lewis, the challenge is to ensure the initial momentum moves in a positive direction for a life-time career.  Achieving that is truly remarkable.

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

8 thoughts on “Great racing drivers are "remarkable"”

  1. How right you are … how many times have we pitched a client or story as ‘remarkable,’ or ‘outstanding’ or ‘amazing’ and run the risk of numbing the media to our claims?

    Building such expectations is not quite the same as ‘crying wolf,’ but we risk being counterproductive with superlative claims, whether too early or too often.

    Brings to mind the overblown use of ‘leading’ this and ‘leading’ that in too many releases and on too many websites, so wonderfully spoofed in the anonymous UK p.r. gossip site ‘… the world’s leading …’

  2. Our local welter weight boxer Alex Arthur was the subject of last Sunday morning’s Radio Scotland programme that looks at a different sporting personalities each week.

    He was hyped up to the hills before his bout a few years ago with Gomez, a Manchunian. The first fight in front of his home crowd in Edinburgh. The fight went 12 rounds and Arthur suffered a great beating in by Gomez. Arthur’s subsequent fights, one of which ended in the first round, was slated for just getting bums on seats ( £50 ringside) and choosing easily beatable opponents since his loss to Gomez.

    Does anybody know about PR in the boxing world?, I bet it’s fascinating.Who advises Frank Warren? Or does he just advise himself!

  3. Michael – thanks for your cautionary note for those in PR tempted to over do the superlatives.

    Jill – I doubt there is much professional PR in boxing, it doesn’t strike me as the sort of sport to understand more than chatting with your sports-writer mates. I could be wrong though.

  4. Oh righto. I thought maybe there would be much debate about who to fight next and what sort of approach to take with the media when things go wrong, etc. Maybe their managers do all that. I’m a real fan, me and my boy are glued to our seats on fight night!

  5. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be profesional PR in boxing, just that I think there probably isn’t. If you think about how poor PR is in some sports like professional football, then it would be surprising if boxing was ahead of the game.

  6. Talking of PR in professional football. Recently I have seen two public relations jobs asking for people with an interest in football. I wonder if these sorts of jobs are as overly subscribed as other agency or in-house roles. These sorts of jobs put me off applying as I think I wouldn’t be able to talk the football talk. I also wonder ( quite a lot of wondering…) if they realise it puts people off. Of course I could well be in the minority and there is an abundance of people itching to get into that sort of PR.

  7. It is always worth a shot – it cannot be that hard to swot up on the topic, but of course, they may be looking for contacts too. There are a lot of people who like to combine and interest with PR, so I’m sure there are plenty of applicants for jobs in footie. I used to work for an agency looking after champions league sponsorship for Ford and when we went to graduate fairs, that and F1 (which we also managed for Ford/Jaguar) were great draws.

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