Knowing how to handle the media and public relations is becoming a prerequisite for success in motocross. Before even making it to the pro ranks, top mini riders and amateurs are being interviewed for magazine features, web articles and highlight videos. How a rider carries himself/herself in front of the camera/microphone/tape recorder can determine how far their career will go. As Mike Bell said during the Fox media training we covered in Monday Kickstart, the reason a professional motocrosser is able to earn a living is because of sponsorships; “it’s all about marketing, selling products and developing brands.” If a rider is able to conduct an interview well, be articulate, and be likable; that benefits their sponsors, who in turn want to continue to support that rider’s career.
For suggestions on how to work with the media effectively, we’ve reprinted some of Mike’s tips from his Media Training 101 presentation. Mike Bell was a top pro in the late 1970s and early ’80s, and the 1980 AMA Supercross Champion. Mike won 20 AMA and Trans-AMA nationals during his seven-year career, and he is a member of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Mike definitely knows what it takes to be a successful professional in our sport…
- Have energy; show enthusiasm and passion for what you’re doing
- Speak clearly and slowly
- Project a confident attitude, but don’t be cocky or arrogant
- Think carefully about answers to questions before responding
- Keep answers direct and to the point
- Give credit to others when appropriate (mechanics, sponsors, etc.)
- Have fun!
- Always remain approachable and willing to talk to the press
- Smile and expect to be there
- Be enthusiastic and passionate
- Maintain a comfortable and humble attitude
- Don’t say anything you might regret later
- Know your sponsors and when to mention them
- Take the opportunity seriously and have a plan
- Know the race situation. What happened? Why are you there?
- Always thank the fans
- Practice your podium presentation
One of the best pieces of advice Mike had was to always remember how lucky a pro is to be racing for a living:
Were you ever a fan? Did you or your parents buy tickets and sit in the stands? Don’t forget how it felt. Be gracious and genuinely appreciative for the opportunity to do what you love to do. Remember you ride “dirt bikes” for a living. The majority of fans can only imagine what it must be like to be a pro motocross rider and they have a tremendous amount of respect for what you can do on a motorcycle, so treat them with respect. Don’t take any of what professional motocross brings as a career for granted. Even a long career is motocross is just a blink of an eye in a lifetime.
Great advice, Mike! Not too many of us will ever have the opportunity to give a podium speech, much less live life as a motocross pro, but for those of you out there on that path, these tips will help you be prepared for your time in the spotlight.