RACING’S FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE
Racing just doesn’t get it, does it? It is just so far behind other sports in its ability to even get to first base and communicate, engage and improve its footprint among the wider community. it is as embarrassing as it is tragic. Racing’s followers are its rapidly diminishing number of people who belong to the “baby boomer” generation, and who, these days,collectively represent “grey power”, as they await their date with their own destiny on this planet.
Yes, it is vital and most important to keep your customers happy and contented and entertained. We get that. But the simple and essential key to survival in a commercial and business environment- and yes folks racing and every other sport these days is a business- is to grow your customer base, or to put in even simpler social media terms – your followers.
Hell, even the insidious proponents of terrorism get it. Where would ISIL or ISIS or whatever this insidious group likes to call themselves be if they didn’t deliberately set out, and successfully, to glamourize their cause and recruit from the wider community and convert individuals to their own bastardized version of Islam and join their armies of terror and hate? And their medium of choice – social media.
Racing preaches to the converted like no other sport. Its language is boring, outdated, clicky and a massive turnoff to a generation of non-racegoers. Racing famously is “lost in translation”.
Using racing language in conversation in a bar among non-racegoers is the surest way to becoming an instant wallflower. Translating racing language and dialect could actually contribute to job growth, by creating its own profession of translators. And in the land Down Under, won’t that improve the case for funding and tax relief from State and Federal Governments?
The recent cobalt scandal in bleak city demonstrates the parlous position that racing finds itself in through it’s own making.
Black Caviar and spring racing carnival aside, Racing, more than any other sport, only finds itself on the front pages or leading electronic news bulletins, when scandals erupt. And that, sadly, is a recurring theme with a bumbling Keystone Cops approach to damage control almost a daily ritual.
The residual damage that these scandals leave behind coupled with the outdated and old school thinking of racing administrators in the areas of communications and marketing makes racing a bridge too far for it to retain its relevance and stave off its continuing decline into oblivion.
Racing administrators – many of them, with a limited skill set and an equally limited intellect and ability- would not be out of place in the cast of Yes Minister or its successor Yes Prime Minister.
Unlike many of its proactive competitors, racing clutches and clings to its eternal hope that another Black Caviar will arrive on a racecourse and deliver it a positive good news story.
Spring carnival aside, it’s racing’s only hope. Forget the “chumpionships”, unless a miracle marketing and promotion plan appears out of the “cobalt blue”, or by sheer accident.
Staggeringly, the self-styled marketing “geniuses” keep coming up with such gems as “relaxed racing”, which, unbelievably, has been dusted off and reprised in bleak city for their Summer and Autumn racing.
Equally staggering, but not surprising, is that these marketing geniuses and their racing administrators in their normal delusionary states of mind believe that such meaningless campaigns deliver successful outcomes.
The wastelands that greet arrivals on the public and members spaces and enclosures give a resounding lie to the misplaced and manufactured “spin” used to mask the spectacular failure of these expensive and wasteful campaigns.
More than ever before in its history, racing desperately needs to get off its arse and onto the front foot and “sell” itself to the entire racing and non-racing community like its never done before.
Racing in Oz has no credits in the bank. Its friends are becoming increasingly silent, its enemies increasingly vocal. It is increasingly under siege from its enemies, both externally and from within, as the TVN farce has amply and alarmingly demonstrated. And surely we all know who was behind that sorry saga…
Racing cannot afford to behave in its all too familiar reactive way like it has done since its inception. It can no longer operate at the pace of a steam train. It must embrace and enter the age of the bullet train.
MORE COBALT STORMS BREWING?
The simple laws of probability suggest very strongly that Australian racing can expect more cobalt positives in the very immediate future.
That is the clear message coming from the “sunshine state”, with Racing Queensland Integrity Chief Wade Birch unable to confirm if any samples being tested retrospectively from July onwards last year, and new samples tested from December last year, have returned positives to cobalt in confirmatory second sample testing by West Australia’s ChemCentre.
The noises coming out of the sunshine state suggest a heightened state of nervousness among the training fraternity with some “big” names choosing to keep a lower than usual profile on and off the track. Shades of the calm before one helluva storm.
But it’s not just Sunshine State trainers who have good reason to be nervous and stressed out.
Because of the overload and backlog of confirmatory second samples awaiting their turn in the queue at the ChemCentre in the west, there remains the likelihood, however strong or weak it may be, that samples taken in other states- and including the two major states of NSW and Victoria- may return more positives to cobalt. It’s what racing does not need.
Ironically, and back to the major cobalt storm triggered off in bleak city a fortnight ago, a marriage of “inconvenience” has resulted between two of the parties embroiled in the storm.
Danny O’Brien and Peter Moody whose once close friendship ended over matters relating to integrity, and whose enmity and dislike for each other was fierce and venomous and an open secret among Melbourne trainers and even those in Sydney, has been resurrected out of necessity.
From what we are hearing, this marriage of “inconvenience” has resulted in an even greater loss of respect with an increasing number of Victorian trainers openly distancing themselves from the “three amigos”, and particularly the two who have rediscovered their once “wonderful” friendship.
Their popularity, like that of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, has plunged so dramatically among their peers that even Abbott is marginally more popular than the “three amigos”. And that says a lot, doesn’t it?
TVN SAGA DRAGS ON AND ON…
The longer the TVN saga drags on, the more dirt is being dished out about its past management, or mismanagement as has been alluded to in the press.
There can be little doubt that some of the decisions made by the previous TVN Board and management, and in particular some of the lucrative consultancy contracts and the grossly overpriced purchase of the two racing publications – Winning Post and Best Bets- have raised serious questions which refuse to go away.
Fast tracking to the present, the mid week announcement that Racing NSW and Sky had reached an agreement on NSW’s racing vision rights was a fait accompli.
It’s what Racing NSW favoured right from the outset when the “new” restructured TVN Board came into operation just over two years ago.
The shadow boxing over international rights and digital media rights has always been just that.
The “real” issue has always been the alliance with Tabcorp and its broadcasting subsidiary Sky Channel. You would have taken “Black Caviar” odds about NSW racing vision rights ending up with Sky. They were never, ever going anywhere else. Right said Fred and, Righty ho, Pete?
In the meantime, the Victorian racing vision rights are (yawn) still the subject of negotiation with the Sky Channel arrangement currently in place- an interim arrangement only, with the sensitive price issue still (yawn) a major stumbling block.
It appears the Victorians, while accepting the inevitable demise of TVN in its present incarnation, are still keen to negotiate a separate arrangement with corporate bookmakers and further separate arrangements for their international and digital media rights.
Negotiations with the Seven network and Foxtel, we understand are still continuing. Yawn.