Force India winter diary part six - Media head



It’s not just the way the information is disseminated that’s changed, it’s the whole process of interaction between teams, drivers, the media and the fans. Time was that a team would put out information in a press release to the media who would then inform the general public, but now the lines are blurred.

“This is my ninth season now and it’s changed dramatically since when I began. For example Twitter wasn’t really around when I started and the way that information is shared has changed drastically. We still do the traditional media service of the press releases and we try to give the media some sort of priority access but everything is also shared digitally and we’re almost our own editorial channel with the website - that’s our own media outlet - and with our Facebook channel and our Twitter feed, it’s almost realtime going out to fans at the same time as it would go to the media. But that’s the same across all sports and all media consumption now really.

“I think the information spreads so quickly now. We’re seeing a lot of teams do online launches. Twitter and Facebook are used as ways of communicating with the media now. A lot of teams don’t necessarily send out a press release. They might just announce something on Twitter. That’s something as a team that we did in 2014 when we had a livery change. We revealed the first look of the car on social media with a graphic that we tweeted. We’re using it in that way and it’s a way of communicating very quickly and also communicating with your fans and giving them some sort of privileged access as well.”

Motor Racing - Sahara Force India F1 Team Livery Reveal - Mexico City, Mexico

While the communications side want to get that all important shot of the car prior to launch, the technical guys are just in a hurry to get it all sorted and packed off to testing, so there can be conflict between the two sides.

“The priority is getting the car on track and maximising performance so I always bow to that but we’ve got a very understanding team and they’re very savvy in the way they know that we need to do things so there’s never any issues there,” says Hings, possibly using his PR skills in responding. “The thing about press work is that you can’t live with it and you can’t live without it. It’s not a necessary evil because a lot of the things we do media-wise are enjoyed by everyone and the end product can be seen by the entire team on TV at the weekend as an editorial feature or in a magazine, so it’s clear that it’s giving the team and our partners the exposure.”

That just leaves the drivers, the pampered, indulged, mollycoddled and cosseted stars of the show. Here too Hings has no complaints.

“It’s always good to work with drivers who have a gift for public speaking and working with the media. We’re lucky in that regard because Nico (Hulkenberg) and Sergio (Perez) are quite natural and they play off very well against each other. They’ve got a good sense of humour too and they understand what the media need. There’s a good atmosphere between them and the whole commercial team.



“What we tend to do is have regular meetings at the races and that’s when we talk about our approach to media, what needs to be done. And we’ll do the same ahead of winter testing just to outline what we require of them. There’s a constant communication and I exchange a lot of emails and Whatsapp messages with them. We just try to keep them in the loop as much as possible on what’s happening and I get a lot of feedback from them on ideas they want to do media-wise. If we get an opportunity to do something I might just ping them a message and say: ‘This would be really cool. What do you think?’ That’s the approach we have working with them to generate really cool content.”

And there we have it; the man who usually has to organise the interviews has found himself on the receiving end, before getting back to his pre-season preparations. While the majority of Formula 1 teams have at least two press people on parade in the paddock, Hings is a one-man band for Force India, another sign of the budget conscious mentality of this team.

“On the media side, there’s me and we have a communications coordinator who focuses more on the digital side and that takes a big headache away from me, because it’s very hard to be on an event and do social media well. Three years ago, we identified social media as an area that we needed to invest in and today, the digital side is well taken care of - that’s website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and anything new that’s coming up.”

So for the record, if you want to see what Hings and Co get up to:


Twitter: @ForceIndiaF1

Snapchat: forceindiasnaps

Facebook: Sahara Force India Formula One Team

YouTube: Sahara Force India Formula One Team

Instagram: forceindiaf1