The battle for the punting dollar has probably never been as fierce as it is today. Gamblers have a plethora of areas in which to part with their hard-earned cash, or even credit. Apart from greyhound racing, horse racing and the seemingly increasingly marginalised harness racing, punters are able to bet on rugby league, rugby union, AFL, golf, cricket, soccer, tennis and a myriad of other sports and events. They can go to a club and destroy their money by putting it through poker machines or playing Keno. Then there are the opportunities to bet on overseas racing, be it greyhounds, horses or harness from New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and almost all points in between.
So, while the overall amount of money being spent in the gambling arena is probably substantially larger than it was, the pieces of the pie available to specific areas are actually less.
The online world allows stay-at-homes to punt on almost anything and everything and one of the best ways of getting those people to part with their money into a particular sport or event is to promote the hell out of it. Sadly, our administrators don’t seem capable of getting their collective acts together and formulating a sensible and achievable mass media marketing campaign.
Basketball in Australia is a good example of a once heavily promoted sport that appeared to rumble almost daily through the pages of practically every daily newspaper in the country. Nowadays you’d be lucky to find it cutting much of a profile, certainly not like it was in the late ‘80s and into the ‘90s. Personally, I’m no fan of basketball, but that fall from grace is a good example of what happens when administrators take their eyes off the ball (pun intended).
Greyhound racing has always, and I mean always, struggled for quality space in the major newspapers. Sure, fields and formguides and generally one story about the upcoming night fixture were common enough until about a decade ago in some of the major papers, but regular features, of the type devoted to thoroughbreds or even the harness stars, were rare.
At present it seems a rarity for anything more rudimentary than a column of fields and tips and no comments to appear in major newspapers about greyhound racing.
So, what to do?
OK, here’s a suggestion. Let’s go with the assumption the major dailies are not going to start promoting greyhound racing anytime soon. Well there are a multitude of local newspapers across the country that are usually always hungry for news and stories. Feed them. Nurture them.
Yes, many of them do, even now, run stories about local greyhound events. So it’s not a complete wasteland. Yet, apart from a couple of stories in the run-up and aftermath of a major country cup (say, at Warragul or Shepparton or Cairns), for much of the rest of the year, there’s usually not much in many influential local newspapers about greyhound racing. Yet, the country and lesser populated urban and rural regions are the heartland of our sport. If greyhounds can garner regular publicity, not just for the up-coming major race or races, but human interest stories (of which this sport has more than enough to go around), it provides much-needed and, more importantly, sustained publicity for greyhound racing.
Promote the sport at the grassroots and the seeds sown will germinate into a strong and loyal base which will keep it alive and prosperous long into the future.
A properly co-ordinated approach to media promotion is not necessarily easy, but it’s also not rocket science. Think ahead, plan ahead, find the cracks in the media system and drive the sport through them.