Business PR

What F1 teaches us about Marketing and PR

Posted by Deborah | November 24th, 2014 | No responses

So we’re another season down, and this time congratulating the achievements of Lewis Hamilton on his second World Championship win.

Many of us who get absorbed in the Formula One circus throughout the year will either own businesses or play a lead role in them, so when we watch, might we also be thinking about what we could learn from this particular sport and its tightly-run model?

As with any industry, sport, pursuit or adventure – undoubtedly, yes, there’s always something to learn. And in the case of F1, the lessons around marketing and PR are very clear.

Here’s five aspects of the high-octane world of F1 which could benefit how you think about your PR and marketing:


We’re in it Together.

As Aristotle would have said, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

In essence, successes in Formula One can only be achieved with a huge amount of collaboration and team endeavour.
Hamilton may have driven to the end and swept up the trophy, but he didn’t get there without the pitcrew, the caterers, the psychological coaches, the financial backers and the dedicated roadies.

The same is true within any PR and marketing campaign. You can’t look at one press release or one social media tactic in isolation. Pull all aspects of your creative output together, and your reach and voice are enhanced dramatically.

Likewise, if you’re fortunate (and large) enough to have several members of a team when it comes to marketing and PR, they absolutely have to be in the loop and on message about any campaign endeavour.

If you lack the right people to create that creative team approach, turn to external consultants – but treat them like part of your team from the outset.


Perform for your Environment

You won’t see an F1 car set up precisely the same from one race to the next. Seasons change as locations change, and the vehicle needs a very specific set of considerations for that particular track and condition.

The same is true of how you approach PR and marketing. You shouldn’t expect to put the same campaign out in your industry’s peak period for sales, as you would in its quieter months. Equally, you wouldn’t target journalists with the same material in the summer, as you might at Christmas.

Consider what your industry’s landscape is, the time of year, the political and economic factors at play at any one time, and target your campaign with those in mind.


Know your Competition

It’s often been said that so much of sport is about knowing who you’re up against and gaining a degree of psychological advantage.

It’s true in F1 too. Every team wants to feel as confident as possible that they know how the rival cars are planning to operate, or that they have identified weaknesses in the other’s strategy.

Never underestimate the importance of assessing the PR and marketing strategy of your competitor. You’ll learn from what they do well – and from what they don’t. Knowledge is power.


Money Matters

Sadly, it’s true. Very little comes for free.

Of course, this is much MUCH more the case in F1, where big financial backers are everything. They need to court sponsors and funders throughout the year to be sure of a budget to get off the starting grid.

In PR and marketing, you WILL need to allocate some funds and not see it as a ‘cost’ to the business but as something which is intrinsic to growth.

As with F1, you can look beyond your own allocation of funds, by looking at who might want to partner initiatives to gain brand awareness – and thus throw some money into the purse through sponsorships or affiliations.

Cutting back on PR and marketing in leaner times can be a costly decision in terms of business opportunity lost!


The Thirst for Improvement Should Never Sleep

While this year’s F1 season may be done and dusted, you can be sure there will be little respite between the celebrations, and the teams and drivers debriefing and starting on next year’s strategy.

The same should be true of how you approach PR and marketing. You should maintain momentum to always be assessing new opportunities for brand awareness, and to be evaluating what did and didn’t work about your previous efforts at exposure.

Whether you’ve effectively stood on the podium, victorious at a well-staged campaign, or ended up rather despondent in the pits, the only way you’ll take the next chequered flag ahead of your competitors is to keep your strategy on track and your team at optimum motivation.


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