Why F1 needs PR

Bernie EcclestoneBernie Ecclestone has admitted he’s considering appointing a public relations company to assist with the promotion of Formula One.

This is something F1 has badly needed for years, thought die-hard fans may struggle to understand why. There are many challenges to projecting a positive image of a sport that is perceived to be environmentally unfriendly, wasteful, boring and stratospherically expensive.

For example, F1 is not nearly as good as other sports including motor racing (such as the Champ Car World Series) at promoting the charitable work it does. Bernie Ecclestone brings children from Great Ormond St. hospital to see the British Grand Prix every year – something that would challenge negative perceptions of the sport if it wee better promoted.

Properly managed public relations might discourage Max Mosley from conducting his many arguments with team principals in public – something that does F1′s reputation no end of harm.

PR certainly could have had a role to play in averting the Indianapolis 2005 debacle, or at least in mitigating its impact afterwards. I can’t help but wonder if this is something uppermost in Bernie’s mind after F1′s recent return to America.

Through the two FIA fan surveys the sport has shown a new-found willingness to engage directly with its fans. PR could help facilitate and improve that.

Improving F1′s image is certaily a priority, and I hope Formula One Management does bring an agency to manage its external affairs. But image is only a small part of the problem – improving the product and in particular the racing should be the number one priority at the moment.

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