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Lotus social media team crushed: A commentary on the F1 media battle
Whatever the problems Lotus have as a team, they have embraced social media platform twitter more so than any of their competitors.
Their self deprecating and irreverent style and content at times has created a Marmite style response. People either find it funny and clever, or offensive and base. But hey, it’s not usually boring or bland…
Unfortunately, yesterday, the inevitable happened. Those running the Twitter marketing were sanctioned from on high.
They had tweeted the following..
This was a controversial comment on Russia’s laws regarding homosexuality. Within a few hours the tweet was removed and an apology issued.
This is clearly the end of the ‘free spirit’ Lotus PR has displayed outside of the official media channels. All further comment will have to be cleared by management, and seeing as there is a political struggle raging between Lopez and Ruhan, it may mean Lotus fans hear little from them on twitter in the future (as happened for a brief stint before Christmas).
As part of my ‘State of the Nation’ address yesterday (as its been described by some of you) on F1 and the authorised media, I couldn’t have made it more clear that institutional control dominates what can be written and said by those who control the sources of cash.
Is it a co-incidence this tweet which is critical of a nations’ persecution of a small number of peoples sexual preferences follows a recent 10 per cent stake acquisition of the Enstone team by Yota Devices. This is a Russian subsidiary of the company Yota Phone which we will see on the E22’s front-wing end plates.
I know for many of our readers Twitter is a place of abomination and desolation. The predominant view I’ve heard expressed by anti-twitterites is that ‘why do we need to hear from Lewis that he has just visited the bathroom and had a Shirtlifter approved bagel for breakfast?’ If that was all twitter represented I couldn’t agree more.
Twitter is in fact a media platform that has empowered the average Joe to have their say and refuse to be dictated to by any establishment. Traditionally the media has been controlled by the few, who spoke to the many and the many had little or no right of public reply to the audience of the few.
We have seen the awesome power of Twitter as the tool of communication used to organise and execute some of the successful uprisings of the ‘Arab Spring’. People found a method outside of the officially approved communication channels by the national authorities to coordinate and communicate with each other without interception from the state.
The average Joe could now speak to ‘the many’.
Since regional and national media were established in bygone centuries, they have represented the voice of ‘the one (or the few)’ – speaking their message to the many. The many had no opportunity to be heard by the same audience, unless they wrote a letter to the Times which was approved for publication.
TJ13 was established in September 2012, and the day I said hello to the world, I saw on Twitter that the legend F1 doctor Sid Watkins had died – 9pm in the evening (see our About page). The following morning I was reading the tweets of some of the waking BBC F1 presenters, and it was clear they had just heard the sad news – 10 hours later than me.
F1 fans are frequently ahead of the F1 pundits and writers in knowing the latest F1 stories and rumours, and this is a challenge for the established media within the sport. It is even more of a challenge for us here at TJ13 with far fewer resources. Daniel Ricciardo being confirmed as Mark Webber’s replacement is a prime example, as the official release was done during the premiere to Rush in the UK, catching a large proportion of the media circus out.
Of course there is the odd hoax which travels the twittersphere like wildfire and even cons the established media. A certain well known pithy F1 Twitter source who posts links for news recently created a false invoice from Ferrari to Red Bull, asking for several thousand dollars for the taxi ride Alonso gave to Webber. It was picked up by a huge German publication who reported it as originating from Ferrari.
Yet as with all media sources, people quickly learn who is credible and who is not. I tweeted early on the final day of the test in Jerez that Red Bull were packing up and going home. Autosport confirmed this nearly 3 hours later. My twitter timeline following my post was immediately full of people – who don’t follow me but had seen my post in the #F1 timeline – asking could this information be confirmed.
TJ13 twitter followers, who know our record, replied en masse that we were a credible source. That day @thejudge13 picked up over 500 new followers and we saw an unprecedented 15,000 visits to http://www.thejudge13.com
Yet twitter is a dangerous place as I recently discovered, poking fun at someone who didn’t know me but was getting intense over the sovereignty of Gibraltar. I tweeted I had signed over Gibraltar to a Spanish citizen – clearly a fatuous idea. Yet I was lectured on the Gibraltan residents’ right to independence for quite some time.
This kind of misunderstanding is something all you TJ13 commentators and writers know when penning a contribution that may require more than a factual read of its content. Sarcasm, whimsical humour and plays on words require an additional prompt for other readers to understand what is intended. We saw this today when I referred to Lewis being under the ‘Shirtlifter’ regime (a play on Scherzinger and her penchant for pole dancing type submissive female rhetoric in her songs) and some readers thought I was suggesting Hamilton was gay.
Social media and Twitter et al are powerful tools for an individual’s ability to be heard. Today Mrs. Judge tried to spend a Gibraltan £10 note in Tesco – which is legal tender in the UK. She was told it was not legal tender in the UK and Tesco could not accept it.
She then went to the Tesco travel bureau and asked to exchange it for a Bank of England £10 as they are of the same value. The lady behind the counter told her they could not exchange UK legal notes for other legal notes, DERR!!!
The lawyer in Mrs. J immediately demanded to know their complaints procedure, and after 30 minutes a duty manager appeared, giving her a form to complete and send to their HQ.
I tweeted this farce and included the @Tesco twitter address. Within 30 minutes they had contacted me on twitter in an attempt to resolve the problem and improve management training were I to reveal the location of their store.
To cut a long story short, eventually Tesco explained to me their policy was to accept Scottish and Northern Irish notes, but not those from the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Gibraltar. It appears this is breaking the law.
The point of this missive is not to persuade you all to join Twitter, though recently our own opinionated ‘Fat Hippo’ – who referred to this social medium as ‘twatter’ – appeared on my morning Twitter timeline to my great surprise…Who knew leopards could change their spots?
Lotus suppression today of their PR people who have been attempting to create a ‘joie de vive’ image of the team is merely an example of the establishment asserting its control over all information flows from within their establishment.
Yet the media revolution will be unstoppable. The average ‘Joe’ and ‘the many’ have been lectured and restricted to information and force fed the propaganda which ‘the few’ – the media writers and their overloads – decided should be disseminated for our consumption. Now we just like ‘the few’ have access FOR FREE to a global audience, just as do they.
The outrageous practice of charging ‘the many’ to read these people’s published content will soon be over. ‘The many’ are beginning to realise that a dedicated ‘average Joe’ and other part time professionals are globally accessible to them because the barriers to entry have collapsed.
Like him or loathe him, Justin Bieber’s circumvention of the approval system of the music industry demonstrated this, by putting it out to the world on the internet and gaining a few million YouTube followers costing him almost nothing. This then made him gold dust for a music producer.
There are a new breed of writers and commentators in all walks of life emerging who write intelligently and with substance and post their endeavours for love onto the interweb for all to enjoy. Contrast this with the jaded overpaid professional media guru’s whose only right to be heard was because they had control of reader circulation.
The established media will have to fight for their place in the information dissemination market of the future. F1 writing should be read on a qualitative basis rather than a position of privilege and they will eventually be forced to stop charging people for the right to consume their often inane scribblings.
As I state in our objectives, part of the TJ13 project is to eventually prove the power of social media is in the hands of organised and passionate, but ordinary F1 fans. Through this joint venture we will achieve fundamental change in our sport; something which bizarrely is recognised by most of F1 participants as desperately required, but nobody believes they have the power to bring it to pass.
(If you are on Twitter PLEASE retweet with the #F1 tag our headline grabbers which have the links to the TJ13 site).
Further, TJ13 has exploded onto the F1 media world growing an audience by the use of social media. We have in 16 months achieved a circulation which other F1 sites have taken years to develop.
Much of this exposure has been through Twitter using #F1, but equally by posting comments on other sites with links to relevant TJ13 articles which add value to the topic under discussion. Readers from over there come and see what’s happening here, some then become part of our community.
So, for example, if you live in Austin, Texas, post a comment on a story they run on ‘The Statesman’ and an link to the appropriate TJ13 story. The same applies for forums you may regularly visit, the BBC comments, James Allen site etc. – but only do this when appropriate and occasionally, maybe no more than once a week.
Yesterday we had an unprecedented number of visitors from Croatia. We welcomed readers from http://www.gp1.hr. They were discussing the Ferrari engine amongst he commentators, and someone posted a link to TJ13’s Ferrari article… (translated from Croatian)
This saw the biggest ever day for readers from Croatia – a 600% plus growth – so hello to any new readers who are popping in again today from Croatia. I have to say one of my favourite sporting interviews was with your man – Goran the tennis player – and when he revealed in jest he may be schizophrenic, ‘The good Goran and the bad Goran’. #Legend
I know some of TJ13 readers are concerned that being bigger will mean we have commentators who are not of our culture, eg fanboys. However, due to the TJ13 Jerez scoops, our readership doubled in January and has continued to see daily reads at record levels.
Whilst we have seen in the past few days many new names in the comments section, our daily conversations have not descended into the fatuous debates and abusive arguments that many other sites endure.
Be part of the F1 media revolution. ‘The many’ now have a voice.
PS… Rightly or wrongly, knowing there would be some GMM reports available for the TJ13 Daily News today – which will tell us who did what, who said what to whom, about something or indeed importantly something else – gave me the freedom to stay up late last night and write this comment piece knowing I wouldn’t have to scramble around in the morning for what may or may not be some news.
Ecclestone thinks he won’t stand trial
I don’t know where to begin on this. The problem is that Mr E his has demonstrated the accusations by Il Padrino – that he is loosing his faculties – are in fact true. The comical failure by Bernie to find his way out of a revolving door appears to be blue chip evidence of the fact.
Ecclestone’s pronouncements on New Jersey have vacillated from ‘its defo on’ to ‘its defo off’ and he proposed a 22 race calendar for 2014 that was never going to happen.
Bernie said during a charity event he attended yesterday of the Munich trial set for April, “Bet you it doesn’t happen… things happen in life and you have to get on with it,” What the hell does that actually mean?
Acting as second in Mr. E’s fight corner is the one and only Christian Horner – minion of Vettel and Marko, his considered view is that “Formula 1 needs him more than ever at the moment, so he’s absolutely the right man,” But even this opinion is given on the back of the bromance between the Red Bull puppet boss and the diminutive man from Suffolk – who bigged up Newey’s minder by suggesting Horner could replace him and run F1.
Reading the tea leaves, the German prosecutors appear to have taken their time before declaring their intentions to bring Ecclestone to trial. Hence, its difficult to believe the determined and considered wheels of the German justice system has been caught napping by some left field play and gazumped by an 11th hour manoeuvre of Ecclestone’s genius.
Still, this is what Bernie is saying today
Ecclestone’s plan for budget cap
In 2011, when new teams, HRT, Virgin Racing (Marussia) and Team Lotus (Caterham) joined the F1 circus, they joined on the promise of Mr E that budgets will be controlled and the total sum of $50million was touted as a budget that would allow you to be a midfield contender. As history has proved with the demise of HRT and Virgin Racing selling out to Marussia, Formula 1 racing is not cheap and to be ‘competitive’ one probably needs closer to $100m than $50m.
For next season, there will be a $200m budget cap as announced by the FIA in December which, if you can believe Mr E, teams have agreed on. Although agreed it is recognised there is still much work to be done to understand exactly how it will be implemented and enforced.
“We have agreed on the budget cap. Everybody has agreed on $200 million, what’s not agreed on is what falls within that $200 million, and until it will include everything, I’m sure the teams will find ways to circumvent this, it will be very difficult to check.”
Smaller teams are worried though as they believe it will be difficult for the FIA to monitor the spending of the big car manufactures in Formula 1 but fear not, Mr E has a master plan!
“… the plan is to give $1 million to the team that can provide us with accurate information that one or more of the other teams is/are cheating, the teams best 3 results for the next (!) season will be cancelled.” He continues, “let’s see if anyone still wants to cheat.”
So now we turn the whole of F1 into an even bigger circus? Why will Toro Rosso give up Red Bull or Sauber give up Ferrari? Will it not be easier for the smaller teams to go to the larger teams and ask them for money not to ‘spill the beans’? Is it really that hard to lock a team’s budget down and will a limit at $200m really change anything?