This is a short check-list to help you develop compelling reasons for sponsors to give you financial support. The most valuable sponsors are those which develop into long-term, mutually supportive relationships. Over time you and your team will learn how to work with them, and the sponsors will learn how to take best advantage of your project. Taking a structured approach to marketing communications takes time and energy. It is not easy, especially at the beginning. You should consider dedicating a fixed amount of time each week to working on communications and sponsorship.
Typically commercial sponsors want to get as much media coverage as possible from their investment in your project. TTXGP will not give your sponsors the media coverage of Formula 1 or even MotoGP, however it does represent three key elements:
1) "The future" of motorcycles
2) Competitive, hi-tech motorcycle racing with national and international interest
3) An environmental story with an exciting, dangerous and "sexy" twist
You can use these three "hooks" to generate interest.
N.B: The term "journalist" is used here to include all writers and broadcasters, professional and amateur, who have an audience.
Before you start contacting sponsors it is important to do some groundwork;
Make sure that you have the following basic communications that journalists and sponsors can find easily:
- Website (doesn't need to be fancy - keep it clean and simple, make sure sponsors (and potential sponsors) are given something more than just a link on a page called "Sponsors")
- Blog - used to keep your website upto date. (Posterous is very easy to set up and use), make sure you cover your sponsors on a regular basis. Be proactive, read the blogs published by your sponsors. Try to link your stories to theirs
- Twitter - use this to create a quick and easy newswire. Use it to tell the TTXGP community "what you are doing"
- Facebook - allows you to easily connect to your friends (fans) and most importantly friends-of-your-friends; and friends-of-your-friends-of-your-friends
Journalists (professional and amateur) are busy people. They are faced with a continual torrent of press releases, emails and phone calls about new, interesting projects. Make it easy for them and potential sponsors to understand what you are doing. Collect all your information and interesting stories into one place. Make sure journalists can find and download your media pack easily.
Your media pack should include:
- Background information on electric motorcycles (history, the potential market), electric motorcycle racing in general, TTXGP races in particular, and a brief outline of your team and what makes it special.
- Photographs of your bike (or computer generated renderings)
- Basic data for a non-technical audience (top speed, power equivalence, weight, battery type)
- In-depth engineering data (for a more technically literate audience)
- Photographs and biography of your pilot
- Photographs of your team (individual and as a group) and short biographies of key team members
- Race diary: where and when you will be racing
- Maps: of your location, race locations, race tracks
- A hook or an unique angle that journalists can use to write an interesting story. Use a combination of these themes:
- Your inspiration or dream - What is your big idea? What are you hoping to achieve?
- Your people - who are you? Who is on your team? What makes your team interesting or different?
- Your process - how did you arrive at electric motorcycle racing? What are your plans (concrete ones, not dreams)
- Your results - what have you achieved?
Remember to include your contact details on every piece of content you produce.
Top-tip: check that it is easy to cut and paste information from your website
Once you have your contacts and media pack you should write a short chronological plan that takes you from little, or no media coverage to global media domination at some point in the future. Start with the date of your first race in the future and work backwards to the week you are in now. Keep it simple, make it logical. Once you have your chronological list you should expand each step with a "hook" that makes it interesting to the media. This will help you focus your conversations with journalists on the key events surrounding your preparation for your first race. For example you might want to announce the arrival of your battery pack, your first test ride, your inclusion on a race card, the recruitment of a pilot, and hopefully, the moment you sign a major sponsorship deal.
Top-tip: Make your search for a sponsor into a story itself.
Once you have media diary complete you are ready to make more formal contact with the people who will help you tell your story to a wider audience. Traditional media is in flux but you have to remember that most commercial sponsors will value mass media coverage of your project much more highly than on-line coverage. Most professional journalists will promote their own work on a blog or through twitter and many "amateur" bloggers have large numbers of readers. Spend some time learning what kind of stories each journalist writes about and adapt your story to their angle. Don't (for example) expect a journalist writing about Li-Ion battery technology to be very interested in your sponsorship by a soft drink company.
The people who will be most interested in your TTXGP project are:
- Motorcycle journalists (mostly working for motorcycle magazines and/or writing blogs about motorcycles)
- Environmental journalists (writing for magazines, blogs and other media)
- journalists working for local or national newspapers as well as TV and Radio
Your strongest media partners are most likely to be local to you. It is essential to make contact with them and to keep them up-to-date with the latest developments in your project. If you want them to listen to you when you have something to say; you should try to make yourself available to them to contact for your expert opinion on electric vehicles, motorcycles or the environment (for example: what is your opinion on the electric charging stations being installed at your local supermarket? Has your local university really made a real break-through in solar power? Do you have an something interesting to say about proposals for a local wind farm or the town hall's proposed plan to recycle Li-Ion batteries?) Get involved with their conversations - make yourself easy to contact, take a position on an issue and practice making short, "pithy" quotes. If you spot an interesting story that might have a local angle then drop them an email pointing it out. Become their electric/eco vehicle "stringer".
Larger sponsors are going to be focused on national media. If you want to get a large sponsor interested in what you are doing you need to spend time establishing contacts with national media. The best way to do this is to focus on those journalists specialising in writing stories on hi-tech and "gadgets", motorcycle racing and issues related to environmental transportation.
Certain media "break" stories which are then picked up by other journalists. The BBC, New York Times, Associated Press and Reuters are all used by other media to identify interesting stories. Don't forget to spend some time focusing on ways to get your message picked-up but journalists at these media companies.
Write a press release
The most important things to include on a press release are:
- The date you wrote it and any "embargo" or delay that you want on publication
- An attention grabbing headline
- An introductory paragraph that covers the main points of the story
- A couple of additional paragraphs giving more in depth information on the project, the people behind it and technical details. Make sure you add a couple of clearly marked quotes that can be used to add human voice to the story
- A very short note on your team and where it is based
- Your contact details (with a telephone number and email address)
Once you have made contact with people who can help spread your news you will find it much easier to find sponsors who are interested in helping you fund your project.
When you are ready, read the OMX guide to writing proposals for sponsors