This Month in Rally

Thanks for your support of This Month in Rally, the digital magazine that I launched earlier this year as part of the Rally America social channels.

Regrettably, at this time, I have no more plans to continue producing issues.

Obviously, it’s a bad time for me to kill this off. March was a great month for the sport of rally on this side of the Atlantic, with not only an incredible entry at Rally in the 100 Acre Wood but also the WRC’s lone North American round in Mexico. Not being able to do in-depth follow-up stories on those events, as well as skipping some of the interviews and unique features that I had been doing in the first few issues, is a bummer.

But I can’t get anybody to engage with me in even the briefest of conversations about supporting the magazine or activating their brand, and at some point, you need to know when to cut your losses.

Here’s the deal. Rally America still has one of the largest devoted followings to stage rally in North America, with nearly 150,000 social media followers and at least 10,000 unique web visitors every month. As somebody who was part of a racing series that went under and lost an audience of half a million people (which I grew almost entirely by myself), and as somebody who understand the expenses it takes to assemble those numbers in 2019 from his day job in digital media, take it from me: those are SIGNIFICANT numbers, and not just for this community. They’re numbers that people in all walks of life would kill for. Imagine if your local dentist or butcher had the opportunity to get his or her message out to 150,000 people.

When Rally America made the decision to stop promoting a championship series for 2019, I agreed to stay on to develop a media vision, out of both loyalty to the community and recognizing how significant of a loss it would be for those numbers to disappear. My continued participation would rely on me being able to bring on financial backing from sponsors, which I had no problem with (and still don’t). Bringing on partners to help fund the continued use of the channels would play to my strengths as well, as I’ve helped design and put forth a number of sponsor activations for companies over my career.

Unfortunately, despite entries being as strong as they’ve ever been since I began following the sport and numerous events and companies keeping the sport healthy with their support, I can barely get anybody to even respond to my emails looking for media backing. I understand that there have been events in Rally America’s past that may have added difficulty to this process, or given the brand name a reputation, and I accept that. (I worked for GRC for five years. I’m used to it. It doesn’t affect my own experiences or the work I did there, but I understand it.)

But that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been a shortsightedness here.

The hundreds, maybe low thousands, of us who actively take part in the sport as competitors, organizers, or promoters are not the only people we’re doing this for. The rest of that group of 150,000 people, a group which outnumbers us dramatically, are. The fans could care less about behind the scenes drama, and they couldn’t give a damn about which organization’s name is on the windshield banners—all they want to see are cars jumping and sliding through the woods! That’s what our responsibility is: to provide them with that. That’s what I’m attempting to do.

More importantly, I am a different person from those you may have dealt with in this sport before. I come in with no baggage, no predisposition, nothing to color my opinions but my experiences with individuals as they happen. I recognize that while I may have a problem with a person from time to time, an entire brand is one personnel change or key hire away from being a completely different experience. My entire motivation has been to be that hire.

But I can’t be the change I want to see if nobody’s going to let me.

I said to myself from the beginning that I would commit to doing three magazines as a proof of concept no matter what. This would give me enough time to develop a look and feel, show what I could do, and ideally I’d be able to engage with a few companies in that time that would want to step in. I did a ton of outreach in this time, from past work partners at various big-name sponsors to the suppliers who help keep competitors on the road. But nothing came through. And I can’t justify turning this search into a full-time job when I have other gigs that need to be my priority.

This is about the time when I would need to start preparing an April edition of This Month in Rally. If any community members are interested in putting something together where we can continue this project, let me know. I get that this probably won’t go over remarkably well, and I’m sorry for that, but supporting the limited media we have in this sport needs to be a higher priority for us to ever grow beyond what’s already here. I love the sport of rally and I have no plans to quit covering it, but I can only justify offering to the community what it’s willing to prioritize itself. I hope you understand.

Chris

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