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Interview: Paul Phillips, TT & Motorsport Development Manager

By Alexandra Gold  //  Mon 23rd June 2014

Paul Phillips TT & Motorsport Development Manager on growing up with motorcycle racing, relying on his team and reaching Nirvana where events required no public funding whatsoever.

What was your first job?
I worked in banking after school for a major high street bank, moving into IT with the same organisation after a few years.

How did you get into the motorsport industry?
I grew up living right on the TT circuit and my family have had a long involvement in motorcycle racing, so it has always been a big part of my life. In my teens and early 20’s I started doing some freelance journalism in the sport as well as working for some teams and competitors on their PR and sponsorships, and it just grew from there.

What is your favourite media campaign / brand?
Nothing specific comes to mind. I do study brands in some detail though, always looking for good ideas and executions that we might be able to use to influence what we are doing.

Which resource do you always turn to?
My own team. We have a small but dedicated team, and along with our PR team and a designer we use, I find it a very creative bunch and we have come up with lots of superb concepts over the years which have delivered excellent results. I am always writing things and drawing things on scraps of paper and these guys are great at making these random ideas work.

Biggest marketing / media mistake?
I think the commitment to traditional advertising we had here when I started was a big mistake. We spent a lot of money without knowing what returns we were getting. Now we don’t advertise at all, and we market through PR and the creation of content and we are able to accurately measure what we are doing.

Best piece of career advice?
Don’t get distracted by the vocal minority!

If you could work on any brand campaign, what would it be?
Something in cycling probably. That’s down to a personal rather than professional interest!

What piece of technology can’t you live without?
Mobile phone. It’s hard to imagine life without one now. And my Garmin Edge 500 for cycling comes a close second!

What technology developments would enable you to add extra value to your spectators?
Live big screen footage to key spectator areas. It will happen. It just needs costs to come down a bit before we can do it in the correct way.

Do you feel that the environmental pressures on motorsport will have an impact on the commercial landscape in the future?
Quite possibly. It is difficult to say for sure but all forms of motorsport are changing at the moment because of these pressures. Nowhere is this more evident than in F1.

Is it essential for grassroots motorsport to become more commercial in its approach in order to survive?
I think so yes. Simply because motorsport is an expensive sport at all levels, particularly because of the increasing risk management measures required to stage these events, so revenues will become increasingly important to sustain events going forward.

Given the growth in the TT revenues from commercial sources over the past 8 years where would you like to see the TT in 8 years’ time in terms of commercial revenue?
Nirvana would be reaching a position where the event required no public funding whatsoever. That has to be our aim and we are working hard to achieve that.

What is your favourite pub?
I’m not a big drinker and I don’t have a local, but I guess I would have to say the iconic Creg Ny Baa on the Isle of Man TT Course.

What are your hobbies?
Cycling. It used to be motorcycle racing, but when your hobby becomes your employment things change!

Ideal holiday?
Skiing every time. I get bored on most other holidays and start thinking about work. When I ski I really shut off and relax. We’ve not been for the last few years whilst our kids have been growing up, but we intend to start again soon!

Who would play you in a movie?
Someone cheap probably!

Paul Phillips is the Isle of Man Government's TT and Motorsport Development Manager, responsible for the promotion and development of the Isle of Man TT Races, one of the world's oldest Motorsport events.

His work encompasses all aspects of the event from commercial revenue generation through licensing, hospitality and tickets and sponsorship. He also operates as race promoter, negotiating participation with manufacturer and privately backed teams and riders through to newcomer rider recruitment.

During his tenure, the TT media profile has grown globally with new TV deals with major broadcasters in most leading countries resulting in audited global audience of 24.4 million in 2013 including top rated daily shows on ITV4 while the on-line audience has grown to over 2 million unique users on the official website and high traffic through the official Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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