Press Relations 101
By James Holter
Everyone loves a cool story, and motorcycle racing is the coolest sport in the world. That makes you, as a motorcycle racer, news.
And if you race in an AMA Racing National Championship Series or Grand Championship event, you are competing at the country’s highest level for your discipline. That’s big news!
With a little work, you can get press for yourself, your sponsors and your sport, by making it easy for local media outlets—in most cases, the local community newspaper—to cover your races.
Getting ink is just like winning a race—you can’t win if you don’t get to the starting gate. So, while you can never guarantee that you’ll see your name in print, if you don’t make the effort, chances are slim that you ever will.
In short, you want to make it as easy as possible for the paper to cover your race. That means giving them photos and a story. They almost certainly won’t run your story word-for-word, but it will give them the facts they need to jumpstart their own report.
Here’s what you want to do.
Find the newspaper’s sports reporter or editor (or maybe both). Their contact information will almost always be available on a “Contact Us” page of the newspaper’s website. If you don’t find it there, look for it in a recent sports story. If you don’t find it there, call the paper and ask for it. Be polite.
Write a story—called a press release—about an upcoming race or a recent performance. This may sound scary and a lot like work, but it doesn’t have to be. As an AMA member, you have the AMA’s permission to use the facts or quotes from a past AMA Racing press release for this purpose.
In addition, below are two simplified versions of stories that you can use. At a minimum, just cut, paste and replace the words in brackets with your personal details. You can do more, but remember to keep to the point. Facts are king.
Provide a digital high-resolution image of yourself in action. In technical terms, this means 300 dpi and a physical size of at least 5x7 inches, which most digital cameras can easily produce. Racing is thrilling, and a photo can deliver that message quickly. If you don’t have a nice shot and you have competed in past AMA Racing Grand Championship events, we may have your image in our online AMA Racing gallery. As an AMA member, you are free to download and use these images for this purpose.
If you are submitting a story about a recent race, ideally you will provide a photo from that event, but if that’s not possible, send in a generic riding shot. Sending something is much better than sending nothing.
Provide more photography!
Provide a high-resolution, quality portrait of yourself from the shoulders up, preferably in a jersey. Reporters and editors will want to show their readers what you look like. Think of the stories you see in the newspaper of standout athletes in high school sports. They almost always include a headshot.
The day after you’ve e-mailed the story and images, follow up with a phone call. Ask the reporter or editor whether they received your e-mail, if the photos looked good, if they have any questions, and thank them for their time. Do not be pushy or arrogant in any way. They don’t have to cover you or your race, and if you give them any reason not to, they won’t.