Guidelines for Trainers when dealing with mainstream and social media.

Recently a trainer was charged and fined by RWWA stewards under AR175(q), ‘conduct unbecoming’ in relation to a radio interview on TAB Radio and so this is a timely reminder to all trainers of your obligations and rights in relation to public comments and social media posts.

Media exposure is part and parcel of the business of training whether it be print, radio and television or online. The media is still the most important medium with which to properly promote our industry. As a general rule, journalists and program hosts are paid to get as much information and controversy ‘out there’ and whilst you are often all on the same page, occasionally you may find yourself overstepping the invisible line with the potential to find yourself in hot water.

Regardless of the issues that are current at any given time, or the seemingly innocent direction an interview may be going a few simple guidelines can be useful in order to keep yourselves out of the poo.

Do not be tempted to be controversial. Should the name or obvious reference to an individual RWWA official come up. A simple ‘we agreed to disagree’ is a better quote than ‘such and such has no idea’

  • An opinion on an issue of the day is fine, it’s even better if you are able to generalise across the broader landscape. But if you don’t have an opinion or don’t feel you can articulate it well, then don’t!
  • When discussing your own horses, be general when talking about any ‘issues’ one may have. Bear in mind, stewards want to know about factors that may have or could effect a horse’s performance, and if you forgot to tell them prior to telling WA, well…
  • Never use insulting or derogatory language directed toward anyone publically
  • Always ask print journalists to summarise an interview you’ve just provided. There is nothing like having to justify a quote attributed to you in tomorrow’s paper to the chairman or an owner for that matter!
  • Should you be misquoted or misrepresented in the media, you are entitled to a retraction or apology in the same medium.
  • Social media is still a minefield. Essentially if you’re not prepared to post the same about your mother then don’t about anyone else. When you stand for parliament, someone is going to be able to find your social media posts from 1949.
  • NRL & AFL players don’t seem to be able to get the connection between Instagram and their phone’s camera…you should! Again the mother thing…
  • When in doubt be quiet. It will save you a quid in the long term.

It’s worth remembering that traditionally the racing industry was one where little information was imparted and the media had to work much harder to get a story. Clearly that has changed but the Australian rules have also been strengthened as a result. Like it or not we are subject to them and where stewards feel the need to discipline a participant for an infraction, clearly they will.

Common courtesy and respect in the public sphere by trainers will go a long way. Where a particular matter or controversy is impacting your business or horses, a query to WARTA is welcome or assuming you are confident to take an operational matter up with stewards or officials do so, but take the high ground and do it respectfully.

Interacting with the wider community via the media is a great opportunity, taking a common sense approach and holding ourselves to a high standard will benefit our industry going forward.