With everyone now having a voice through social media, everyone is a racing writer or a racing expert, something which technology and Freedom Of Speech have given the world in every industry.
Sometimes it works, often it’s just who can speak “Niki Lauda” than the rest of the rabble rousers.
However, in the minuscule horse racing industry, one has to wonder about, yes, going to that same pool of talent visited by Head Hunters and Human Resource people time and time again, which is why there has always been a stifling game of musical chairs when it comes to the hiring of racing executives, and also the usual suspects writing about those other usual suspects in horse racing and the usual suspects writing about the same tired subjects and flogging the same old dead horses to death.
Of course, this is NOT to say that there is that market segment that needs its daily fix of racing news and views, which, a few people have made their own, work hard, perhaps even too hard, for the money paid, and do it damn well.
As, however, relative newbies to racing journalism- and on a part-time basis and only because we see the sport being part of the much bigger and more lucrative world of entertainment- there’s something off-kilter and xxx in all this pontificating about attracting new and younger- two VERY different demographics lost to many- horse owners and race-goers.
A NEW horse owner, for example, can be male, female, gay, straight or bisexual and in their mid-Twenties or mid-Fifties.
It has NOTHING to do with age, but, instead, ALL about them- and their friends- understanding the sport and enjoying the benefits of owning a horse.
Let’s not lose sight of this in the pursuit of Overnight Cool.
The problem is that those providing the “answers” to these newcomers to racing are from that same Ye Olde School of one-dimensional racing tragics who either don’t want anything to change, or else have never worked in any other industry.
This means being the “best of the rest” and clueless about ingredients for success like marketing, the digital landscape, sponsorship marketing, added value, new business partnerships and an inability to see the forest from the trees.
As an experienced racing person in Oz recently mentioned, There’s no difference between racing’s old-schoolers and new schoolers because their “schooling” has been the same.
So, when many of today’s racing writers work with today’s plodcast of racing executives, the end results are relegated and stranded in the racing pages with the same well-worn out quotes, the same tired interviews with the equally tired interviewees, and a smattering of sophomoric thoughts about that “next generation”.
This “next generation” is the same one that has been discussed and dissected by many other industries for over twelve years and when Napster changed the music- and entertainment- world forever with numerous high-profile executives from Google, Facebook, Yahoo etc sharing their views on the new digital world and new thinkers from outside that “inner circle” brought in to stop stunted corporate thinking and bring about evolution and not mental constipation.
It’s 2014 and this discussion has suddenly become racing’s cause célèbre with those who thrive on self-promotion jostling to be seen as “visionaries” as the old gigs are looking like becoming obsolete in today’s online world.
If not for this jockeying to be recognized and “doing a Sally Field”- “You like me! You really LIKE me!”- being so pathetic, it would be humorous.
Constipated thinking and a very warped sense of self-importance by many of the usual suspects of racing on a global level- the same old race callers, the same old racing talking heads, the same old experts, the same old producers of the same old racing programs, and all with the same old blinkered thinking- is what’s stunting the growth of a sport that has so much more to offer consumers than it even realizes simply because it’s never been done before.
We were reminded about all of this when reading this quote from Jeff Bezlos, Chairman and CEO of Amazon: “If you want to invent and innovate, failure is part and parcel with that.”
In the horse racing world, it often appears that the glue that binds is equal parts Fear Of Failure and a very serious inability to not know good from bad.
The end result? Playing it safe and the approval of mediocrity
It’s something we keep seeing and hearing in the communications of the racing world where all the usual boxes must be ticked by committee before unleashed like a wet fart on the same old consumer base, but dismissed by those new and young customers that horse racing desperately needs to have it progress to those next few tiers.
Why? They are simply uninterested in the medium of the message and the tedium of the message.
Racing has a captive audience under lock and key. They’re going nowhere- but it’s a dwindling market as it has NO GROWTH POTENTIAL.
What’s needed are those, especially in media marketing, who can change the perception of racing as being “boring” and “evil” to those who might have not even set foot onto a racecourse- but need to be convinced- first through words and visuals, and then that all-important on-course experience.
It’s here- on-course- that every racing club has only once chance to win over a new customer to whom racing is not the only game in town- and then keep evolving the product so it stays fresh and exciting and as exciting as many of the young guns in the riding ranks.
This is also where racing needs that delicate balance of the old and the new in marketing and finding that right tone to talk up what is still a very much misunderstood sport to many and how it’s worth investing time and money in- as every other sport has already done and continues to do and SURPRISE and bowl over new fans just when they had thought they had seen it all.
For racing, this Surprise Factor is key- and, for the time being, a vital missing link in marketing the sport.
One will only know this hole has been filled when a new race-goer says, “Wow, that was fun! I’ll be back with my friends- and maybe we can watch our own horse run and win one day!”
This is when everyone wins and when, as a global sport, horse racing is promoted to the Premier League.