Inspirational, Interview, Women In Motorsport

Rebecca Banks, “In F1, you are operating at the absolute top.”

Hello! Today’s article is about sports and entertainment PR and Events expert Rebecca Banks. Rebecca works as the co-founder and director of Revolution Communications, a PR and Communications company. One of their current clients is the Mahindra Racing Formula E Team. Enjoy!

Rebecca Banks. Photographer: Lou Johnson

Rebecca’s career in motorsport started at just 17 years old when she was attending college in the UK (not the same as university, students go at 16). To complete her year-long course on Media and Communications she had to do a two-week work placement. Rebecca saw a job opportunity at Prodrive, the company that was running the Subaru World Rally Team. They were advertising a full-time position in Rebecca’s hometown. The problem was that the job offer stated that Prodrive wanted someone with experience, while Rebecca had none. Rebecca had also never grown up around motorsport, joking that, “If I had had a gun to my head, I could have maybe named Michael Schumacher! That would have probably been it!” Nevertheless, Rebecca asked Prodrive if she could complete her work placement there anyway. Fortunately, they agreed and after the two weeks were up, they offered her the job full-time.

“I ended up at Prodrive for four years. The first year I worked for the company’s chairman, and then I moved to the PR and Marketing department.”

After Prodrive, Rebecca had her first experience in the world of F1; she became a Press Officer for the Lucky Strike BAR Honda F1 Team. “It was a traditional kind of Press Officer role, talking to media, writing press releases, stuff for the website. It was a very straightforward PR role. I was there for about a year, and then I felt like I had to do something different. I was still at that point where I thought I was just doing motorsport for a bit and that it was not my career. I wanted to get some more experience, so I started work for a football team in the UK.”

When I asked her what it was like to switch sports, Rebecca told me that, “It was a big culture shock. In F1, you are operating at the absolute top. It’s such a fast-paced industry with grand expectations. You learn to be the best. I have always tried to take that into everything I work on; both inside and outside of motorsport.”

Rebecca and then-Ferrari driver Felipe Massa.

Shortly after, Rebecca turned to freelance, which she stayed in for ten years, with projects for several huge brands such as Pirelli World Rally, the Amber Lounge, Sportfolio, Fuse, and Red Bull F1. “From those companies, I learnt an enormous amount about the ways of working in large corporations. It was a bit of a whirlwind, but I would take what came to me. I tried to do some non-motorsport projects, too, as I didn’t want to be just in this tiny niche. That meant that I was learning in other industries.”

In 2014, Rebecca co-founded her company Revolution Communications with her business partner, Emma. “I had met Emma a few years before; we had both been hired as freelancers to work on the same event. We got to know each other and did a few more projects together. We just gelled and realized that we worked in similar ways and took the same amount of pride, passion, and effort into our work. Emma and I got to a point where we realized that we could service bigger clients and projects when we were together as we had more resources. It was a very natural, organic thing. It was meeting the right person at the right time and having the passion to try to start a company. It’s now been 7 years.”

Rebecca with Mahindra Racing

“Formula E started the same year that we did, and we’ve been working in the series since season 1. We are the only agency that worked in Formula E since season 1. We worked for one team for the first few years, and we have been with Mahindra Racing since season 4. Revolution do some other things as well; we do PR for Nicki Shields [Formula E Pitlane Presenter]; we have done Top Gear Live (the touring version of the TV show) and the Grand Tour since the show started.”

Rebecca told On The Pit Wall how Formula E and Formula 1 differ as a working environment for her,
“I think the nature of Formula E when it started was more of an education game, treated as a bit of a joke. It was a considerable risk, even for us. We thought, ‘this might last a few seasons and then die a death’. The opposite happened, the guys that founded it were at the right place at the right time with the right idea and it has the best group of manufacturers on board of any championship in the world. It has an amazing driver grid, it’s a destination that drivers aspire to now. It has been incredible seeing it all from the start, being at the forefront of a movement where motorsport will be going in the future. I think it’s enabled us to be creative, to have the space to say, ‘we’ve had this crazy idea, what do you think?’ We’ve been lucky with our clients that they’ve gone, ‘go for it’. It’s been rewarding in so many ways.”

From left to right; Rebecca, Katie Priest, Alexander Sims, Nicki Shields, Alex Lynn, Karen Hauer, and Rebecca’s business partner Emma. Photographer: Lou Johnson.

She told me that being a part of Mahindra Racing’s ‘The Switch’ series has been one of her most rewarding career experiences. The concept of ‘The Switch’ is that two dancers (Karen Hauer and Katie Priest) do a job-swap with the two Mahindra Racing Formula E drivers (Alex Lynn and Alexander Sims). Each driver partnered with one dancer to take part in a choreographed dance. In turn, the drivers prepped the dancers for a drive in a Formula E car. The four-part series has amassed over 4.8 million views, a massive feat.

As evidence of her vast array of talents, last month, Rebecca became an author. Her book, ‘Half the World Away’, is a women’s lit and romance novel. The book isn’t to do with motorsport and instead focuses on Abbie Potter, who works at a football club in London. She gets the opportunity of a lifetime and takes up a position at an American team in Salt Lake City. A book about friendship, love, and new beginnings. ‘Half the World Away’ is an ode to Rebecca’s magnificent writing style. The link to purchase the book is below.

Huge thanks to Rebecca for accepting an interview with me – it was lovely chatting with you! From Rebecca’s story, I realized that university isn’t the only path after secondary school/high school nor necessary to have a successful career. Rebecca has taught me that every story is unique, and there is no ‘one personality’ for a career in motorsport media. It’s a multitude of people and personalities, and that’s what makes it so extraordinary.

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Purchase Half the World Away here.

Cover Image Photographer: Lou Johnson