My Race Week: Tom Cooney, KHP Consulting - Paddock Magazine
PROVIDING A GENERAL OUTLINE OF WHAT CONSTITUTES A STANDARD FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX WEEKEND FOR KHP CONSULTING IS NOT EASY. IN FACT, IT’S KIND OF IMPOSSIBLE. THE ONLY CONSISTENT THEME OF A RACE WEEKEND FOR THE TEAM IS ONE OF VARIETY. TOM COONEY, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR AT KHP, TRIES TO SHOW US HOW HIS COMPANY’S GP WEEK LOOKS.
To give you a clearer view on our work, I will focus on our race week in October for one of our favourite clients – Circuit of The Americas (COTA). After the rain-soaked 2015 USGP, last season’s race weekend was hugely important for the only purpose-built Formula 1 circuit in America as it sought to re-establish itself as one of the best experiences on the F1 calendar. This “race weekend” actually started months earlier when we were re-appointed to manage the circuit’s international PR for the duration of the 2016 season. Furthermore, we were brought on board once again to manage the Media Centre and also to perform the role of National Press Officer (NPO) during the USGP.
The months leading up to the fifth successive race in Austin saw KHP co-ordinate COTA’s global media campaign which included the placement of feature stories as well as interviews with the circuit’s Founder & CEO, Bobby Epstein, with major media outlets including the Guardian, Time Magazine, New York Times, Sky Sports and CNN; high-impact social media activations (working closely with COTA’s celebrated digital team, who as many of you probably know, “make the tweets”) such as the development and launch of the “F1 Drivers’ Playlist” celebrating the circuit’s American Soundtrack theme; the filming of promotional videos with key figures including Lewis Hamilton as well as targeted digital and print advertising campaigns in key international markets during the vital summer months.
By the time the 2016 USGP eventually came around, KHP was already deeply entrenched (so to speak) within COTA and striving hard towards the successful delivery of another Formula 1 event in Texas. From working closely with FIA’s communications team to ensure the smooth running of the media centre and daily press conferences, to regularly briefing media and addressing any questions and concerns they had in our role as NPO, to arranging further interview opportunities for COTA’s spokespeople and on-track filming opportunities for Austin’s national TV affiliates with the Haas F1 Team, there wasn’t much time to sit back and relax.
In between all the above we of course found time to catch up with old friends (partly in the paddock, partly in Pete’s Piano Bar on Austin’s famous 6th Street!), plan future projects with trusted partners and connect with new contacts. There really is no place like the Formula 1 paddock to build, foster and grow professional relationships and our ability to network in this privileged environment is of huge importance to our business and something we at KHP do no take for granted.
Ultimately, it was a spectacular return to form for COTA with just under 270,000 fans attending over the sun-drenched weekend. This season, our first race weekend was in Bahrain, where we worked on behalf of the sport’s newest promoter, Baku City Circuit, filming a promotional video for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with the drivers. With the previous strict regulations on visual imagery relaxed under new owners, the scope for making better use of the sport’s abundance of high-quality content has already greatly increased. This means new opportunities for circuits to promote their events across social and digital platforms to a wider and younger audience and also provides a bigger and more creative platform for agencies like KHP to operate on. It’s the dawn of a brave new world for Formula 1 and we are delighted to continue being a part of it.