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How Would You Improve the Preakness?

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This was the question that folks at “b,” the tabloid newspaper produced by the Baltimore Sun Media Group, posed to readers in their latest issue. “b” attracts a younger audience, so I wasn’t too surprised by the responses, which basically encouraged free admittance, freedom to bring in unlimited alcohol, and a desire to see a return of that testament to class and decorum, “the Running of the Porta Potties.”

The paper’s “YOUR SAY” feature runs directly beside the “RANTS” section (and if you aren’t familiar with “b,” you can probably guess what RANTS is all about), so it’s only right that I offer a rant of my own.

How would I improve the Preakness? Here’s an idea: Let’s make it about the Preakness this year.

It is unfortunate that we live in a society where the go-to strategy of so many campaigns involves appealing to the lowest common denominator. “Got to make it about booze, acting stupid, and don’t forget to sexualize it as much as possible!” Ugh. Double ugh.

While “inciting a cultural revolution to encourage people to read, educate themselves, raise themselves up rather than always dumbing down” would undoubtedly have a positive effect on many things, including the Preakness, it’s probably not achievable in the short-term. So, as we in PR do everyday, time to put on our Creativity Caps!

During Preakness week, offer lessons in how to handicap at Pimlico…and have a contest with people entering for a fee (monies to charity) to see who can pick the most winners on Preakness Day, i.e. an amateur handicapper’s competition.

Have a Preakness trivia contest…patrons can win prizes based on their knowledge of the race. Hold a “Preakness Jeopardy” tournament. The track could provide fliers, links to a website, with all manner of race trivia, then a select few (as via a paid raffle, again, monies to charity) would be chosen to participate in the game…prizes might be, day at the races for 10, race named in your honor, that sort of thing.

Have a contest to create a 30-to-60 second video, “Why I Love the Preakness.” Encourage a competition among local college and university film departments to create a documentary about the Preakness with a special black tie fundraiser screening at the Senator.

What ideas do you have (that don’t involve alcohol or acting like an extra from ANIMAL HOUSE)?

Final Shameless Plug: I don't know if this improves the Preakness, but I like to think it does! I'll be offering my thoroughbred racing handicapping tips and Preakness 2014 predictions on Friday, May 16th at 6 a.m. on FOX45 and in the 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. news hours on Preakness Saturday, May 17th at WBAL-TV11, tune in, tell a friend, it's all about EDUCATION!

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