CHAMPCAR/CART: CART Expands Public Relations Approach in 2000

DETROIT (January 21, 2000) - An expanded public relations organization that features a targeted, fan-driven local-market public relations approach for the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season was announced today by open-wheel sanctioning ...

DETROIT (January 21, 2000) - An expanded public relations organization that features a targeted, fan-driven local-market public relations approach for the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season was announced today by open-wheel sanctioning organization Championship Auto Racing Teams.

CART Vice President of Communications Ronald G. Richards said the new structure includes a new, year-around, race-market PR initiative to be conducted by nine agencies in all 17 of CART's North American race markets. As part of the new approach, CART has added five staff positions with very specifically defined roles and responsibilities. CART runs 20 events in five countries on four continents in 2000, beginning with the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota March 24-26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in South Florida. CART television is broadcast to more than 190 countries in 19 languages and reached approximately 1 billion viewers in 1999.

"We have made significant progress in addressing several media-related issues over the past few years," said Richards, who joined CART in December 1996. "But we must do more on a local level to activate our fan base, to raise awareness and interest in CART among our race fans, 365 days a year.

"We have a strong base of CART fans in each race market and we will grow CART by building from that base. It's important that we do a better job of educating the media and our fans on an ongoing basis. Our objective is to make each race more relevant in its market as well as to make the entire series more meaningful to our core audience."

New York City-based Alan Taylor Communications, which has worked with CART the past three years, will manage the race market PR program as well as continue to serve as CART's national public relations agency.

CART's race market PR agencies will be based in New York City; Miami; Detroit; Columbus, Ohio; Chicago; Milwaukee; Houston; Los Angeles; and Seattle. Each agency is working in its market to build the year-around presence of CART, its race series and drivers, as well as working closely with local CART event promoters to build "buzz" in those individual race markets.

"Building relationships with media and effectively conveying the CART story in each market is the No.1 priority for each of our local market PR reps," said Richards. "That will result in expanded CART presence which, in turn, will drive fans to be more involved with CART."

The race market agency structure is:

Agency Race Markets Served

Alan Taylor Communications, New York City Nazareth O'Connell & Goldberg, Miami, Fla. Miami John Bailey & Associates, Troy, Mich. Detroit, Michigan, Toronto Clary Communications, Columbus, Ohio Cleveland, Mid-Ohio The Eventors, Chicago, Ill. Chicago, St. Louis Gilbreath Communications, Houston, Tex. Houston Jeff Sherman Communications, Milwaukee, Wis. Milwaukee, Road America Kevin Wilkerson Public Relations, Redondo Beach, Calif. Long Beach, Monterey, Fontana Todd Myers Communications, Seattle, Wash. Portland, Vancouver

In addition to the race-market PR program, CART has added four managerial and one administrative position. The Director of Broadcast Public Relations position was filled December 1 by Steve Shunck, who returned to CART after a year of doing broadcast PR for stock car sanctioning group NASCAR.

Richards is conducting searches for the positions of Internet PR Manager; Manager of Television PR; and Print PR Coordinator, as well as for an administrative assistant. All will be based in CART's Troy, Mich., offices.

"Our PR and Media Relations programs stack up favorably against anyone in sports and I am proud to have the great group we have in place," said Richards. "Our combined efforts have been recognized as a positive force and our results have enabled us to expand our reach and service to the media. We look forward to the new staff joining us soon to begin working toward our goals."

CART's current staff is comprised of: Mike Zizzo, Director of Public Relations; Shunck, Director of Broadcast Public Relations; T.E. McHale, who has been promoted to Senior Manager of Public Relations; Tara Martorana, who is Off-Sports Public Relations Manager; and Merrill Cain, who is Broadcast PR Manager.

"One of the key strategies in developing our new structure was to enable everyone to focus more on specific areas of media relations," said Richards. "For instance, Merrill (Cain) has been tasked with building our radio presence and will spend the majority of his time interfacing with radio outlets around the country. The new positions will help us build the CART story and name on the Internet, with TV media we haven't touched personally and with print journalists who haven't heard directly from CART on any kind of regular basis."


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Alan Taylor