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Herb Branham
Dir. of Communications at NASCAR

 

                                                                                                                                                                           

   

Describe a typical day at work.

You never know.  If you are at the race track, it starts pretty early usually about 5:30 and you’re getting up ready to roll.  You’re out at the race track around 7:00.  I work in the public relations field at NASCAR.  First thing you have to do is make sure the reporters are all set and ready to go when they arrive.  The rest of the day is spent in effect managing the media center, making sure all those reporters have everything they need to do their job.  Then if it is a night event you are at the track until 2:00 a.m.  Your number one job is to help the reporters get the right information out to the fans.

 

How does someone become the Director of Communications for a major sports organization or league?

It varies.  A lot of people plan for that when they go to school.  There are other people like myself who come from the media side of things.  I worked for a newspaper for more than 20 years right out of college.  A lot of those years I was a racing reporter, I covered auto racing all over the place and that really prepared me for this job.  There is never really a clear path.  It helps more than anything to have experience in racing or whatever sport or endeavor to kind of set you up to get that job.

 

What is the best part of your job?

Being able to go to a place and be around such a fun activity everyday.  All the people are having fun.  Even the people that aren’t running well are having a good time.  The start of the race is the best part of my job.

 

What is the most difficult part of your job?

When you have an unfortunate incident a driver injury or a penalty against a driver when you have to deal with the media.  They may be really pressing for information and not happy always liking what they hear.  The media perhaps don’t want to wait and don’t understand what we have to do with our job.  We have to dispense information.  Sometimes they are not always nice to you.  This makes is tough.  When you are representing an organization, you may not be able to respond to them the way they are to you.  You kind of have to bite your tongue.

 

Who were your heroes when you were growing up?

My heroes were - football player Jim Brown, baseball player Frank Robinson, boxer Muhammad Ali, and auto racer AJ Foyt.

 

Why did you decide to write the book about Bill France Jr.?

For the last 10 years, when Bill France Jr. was alive I was his speech writers.  I always thought about doing a book on him.  When he died in 2007, everybody at NASCAR wanted to do the book.  His family asked me to do it and I gladly agreed.