There's good news for horse racing, as the industry moves forward into the 21st Century and takes advantage of the powerful marketing tools now available through the Internet.
For some time, the NTRA (National Thoroughbred Racing Association) has been at the forefront in the industry, utilizing the latest technological tools to communicate with fans and prospective fans -- including the traditionally hard-to-reach youth demographic. They have done this by establishing a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and through NTRA blogs. In addition, they have been reaching out to the fast-growing world of independant horse racing bloggers, including the formation of an online task force that offers suggestions and ideas from the front lines of the blogosphere.
Today I participated in a conference call hosted by the NTRA for Thoroughbred horse racing bloggers. The conference had a two-fold purpose: to update bloggers on what the NTRA is doing via social networking sites in the weeks leading up to each of the Triple Crown events, and to gather input and ideas -- a kind of telephonic brainstorming session. And there are some pretty exciting things happening right now!
NTRA participants on the call included Alex Waldrop and Fritz Widaman. Widaman announced that NTRA has hired Caton Bredar to do personal interviews all week on the backstretch at Churchill Downs -- with trainers, jockeys, and owners -- which will be posted regularly on NTRA.com. NTRA will also be Twittering from the backstretch, starting tomorrow, with a continual feed of tweets from Derby connections. The interactive capabilities of Twitter will allow fans to send questions to jockeys and trainers via NTRA's Twitter Page, and have them answered on the spot! NTRA will also be sending tweets throughout the day Saturday from the track.
On his "Straight Up" blog, Waldrop said, "The Internet has opened up a whole new avenue for marketing and promoting horse racing. Our sport is tailor made for the medium. We are a fact intensive, highly interactive, opinion-driven business. If you don't think so, just read a few of the comments to my blogs and you will see that almost everyone in racing has an opinion and is not afraid to express it."
Here, here! Let's see if we can keep the ball rolling.