Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Britain announces "Racing for Change" to unify marketing and PR

My ultimate career aspiration is to work in marketing or communications for an equestrian oriented organization, either a large stud farm, a racing or training entity, an auction house or a breed organization. I am thus always keeping my eyes open for ways that equine organizations, many of which seem grossly behind the times in terms of keeping with modern social media, can enhance their marketing platforms in the landscape of the digital age in a way that also speaks to the up and comers in the market - Gen X, Gen Y and the "Millenials." I have already written about what makes Three Chimneys' marketing campaigns so compelling, and am currently working with a team of marketers at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation to redesign their web, email and print campaigns so that they can synchronize and engage the collaborative power of digital marketing.

It was with great interest, therefore, that I read on TheBloodHorse.com of a new initiative under way in Britain called "Racing for Change." Through a variety of tactics, the British horse racing industry is seeking to unify its marketing and promotional strategies to make racing accessible and interesting to casual fans and fans new to the sport, many of them members of younger generations who are ripe to become lifelong supporters. The initiative will feature several key elements, many of which could go a long way towards increasing support for and engagement in horse racing here in the States as well.

Those tenets of the Racing for Change platform that could be particularly well utilized in American horse racing marketing include:

  • "Race names to be simplified and racecourse announcements to be streamlined.
  • "Racecourses to improve the enjoyment and understanding of a day at the races for both new and regular racegoers. Initiatives include improved food and drink provision, new sales and marketing promotions (including more free and discounted days), enhanced raceday information with an emphasis on improving the quality of showmanship during the day. Improvements are also being planned in the use of on-course TV and the betting experience."
  • "Starting a new free membership club for younger adults that will offer discounted admission to many courses and shares in several racehorses."
  • "Launching a new Web site to promote horse racing to new and novice customers."
  • "A central public relations campaign to promote racing more effectively to a wider audience."
The last one in particular, a centralized public relations campaign for all of horse racing, is something that the U.S. lacks completely. Every racing entity is responsible for its own promotion because we do not have one key body responsible for oversight of the industry. It is particularly necessary that the U.S. racing industry contemplate implementing similar changes, because it has suffered grievously in the last decade from waning interest, grave economic concerns, and a swath of bad press resulting from scandals as diverse as the Eight Belles tragedy to the Pagallo neglect and abuse case. Perhaps if Racing for Change spurs an uptick in new fans for Britain's industry, American horse racing proponents might see fit to institute similar initiatives.

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