Formula 1 returns with the Belgian Grand Prix (Aug 26-28) after the 2022 summer break! We caught up with Ben Towse, Social Media Manager for Williams Racing during the four week hiatus.
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Ben Towse. I’m 24 and was born and raised in East Yorkshire. I now live in Oxfordshire and am the Social Media Manager for Williams Racing, a role I’ve been in for a year and a half.
Prior to this I was Social Media & PR Executive for Hull City Football Club for two and a half years, and I started my career in sports media with a volunteering role in Rugby League which then transformed into paid, full-time roles within Hull KR, Hull FC and their merged academy at the time, the City of Hull Academy.
What do you do in your current role?
Primarily it’s the planning and production of our output on social media. Starting with the planning process, as a team we strategise our future content, whilst also ensuring that the day-to-day output is on-time and accurate, tracking and monitoring our performance on each platform to find patterns and trends which have proved successful in our content.
Within my role I also get involved a lot with the content production both trackside and at the factory in Oxfordshire, working with the team and our drivers to collate any requests for our own channels and also our partners’ requests.
My role has more recently allowed me to carry out some on-screen hosting for our regular video series, “The Williams Warm-Up”. I always felt like I used to struggle speaking to camera when I was younger, but this experience has really helped me grow in confidence both on and off camera.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
I tend to separate my weeks into two categories. Non-race weeks allow for a bit more planning and preparing, as well as the usual management of our social output, whereas race weeks are a lot more reactive once you begin to travel and are on-site at the circuit.
I love the element of surprise with race weeks where you have to be adaptable – you never know what’s going to happen next!
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I think my first interest in sports media and, more specifically, social media, came when I started doing match updates for Hull KR on my own unofficial Twitter page. I started doing that from when I was around 14 and learned a lot of skills through self-learning while I was still at school and sixth form. The account grew to be a popular hub for supporters of the club, which is where I was then offered a voluntary role working both directly for the club and as part of the merged Academy programme between Hull KR and Hull FC.
A year of voluntary work managing the social channels for the Academy followed, which was a very busy time for me as I was also juggling a college course and a part-time job at a restaurant in my local village, as well as travelling to all home and away games and trying to help out within the first teams of both Hull clubs too.
At the end of the first season, I was offered a full-time paid role within the Academy, whilst still being able to gain valuable experience within the more established setups of the parent clubs. This was a huge first step for me in my career as not only did I learn a lot of skills, but also from a personal development perspective and I’m very thankful to all three clubs for giving me the platform to learn whilst still being young at 18 years old.
Following two years in the Rugby League environment, I made the switch to Hull City Football Club where I really felt like I started to go from strength to strength. The onset of COVID provided a challenge no-one could have envisaged, with the Club still operating, but with a stripped back workforce due to some staff being furloughed. Despite all of this, interaction with the Club’s supporters became even more critical as games were postponed and then played behind closed doors for well over a season.
Working through this period with a small number of colleagues was pivotal, as it was a tough time for the club, during which they suffered a number of heavy defeats (including an 8-0 defeat at Wigan) and subsequently being relegated to League One.
The resurgence of Hull City and their return to the Championship was effectively done with no supporters in the stadium, meaning that social media was again at the forefront when keeping supporters informed and entertained, but this was always a challenge that the team and I relished, and we worked together in tricky circumstances to create the best output possible.
I feel like the resilience I developed at this time was hugely beneficial and set me up for my next challenge when I moved to Williams Racing at the beginning of 2021, ahead of one of the most dramatic seasons Formula 1 has seen in recent times.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
Being able to accurately present a passionate and engaging storyline to convey the many ups and downs of such an historic and iconic Formula 1 team.
Over the past season and a half, we’ve seen unexpected drama, points and even a podium, so being able to capitalise on those moments, including the tough ones, is always something I relish in such a fast-paced and ever-changing environment.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
I’m not sure if this is particularly a failure, but after finishing college I felt like I’d hit a crossroad where all my friends were going to university, but I decided to take a different path and go voluntary to try and work my way up the career ladder that way.
With no real guarantee of a full-time job at that time, I did find myself questioning whether I’d made a sensible call not to go and secure a degree and then search for a full-time job, but I kept plugging away in a voluntary role and it turned out to be the best possible outcome when I was offered a full-time role a year later.
I feel that experience taught me that going to university is not the only way you can carve out a path for yourself.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
I love the challenge of new social media tools and platforms. Technology, especially social media, has changed and adapted so much over the past five to ten years, so being able to keep up-to-date with trends and new platforms is always an exciting challenge!
If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?
An edit button on Twitter – make it happen!
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
I’m a very below-average goalkeeper so enjoy playing football in my spare time. Fortunately, I enjoy exploring so that’s always handy when you get a moment whilst travelling around the world!
Being an avid football and rugby league fan, I still make sure I go to watch Hull City, Hull KR and Hull FC where I can, although this is a luxury when half of my weekends are taken up with F1!
Aside from that, I enjoy gaming, sometimes I play the piano and more generally I just enjoy being with my friends, family and girlfriend. As I travel so much it can be hard to see them frequently, so I always make the most of it when I’m with them.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and always back yourself. Be confident. You’re never going to get it right 100% of the time but having the ability to learn and adapt from mistakes is what will make you successful and more resilient in the future.
Also, show willingness and take on any opportunity that comes your way. You never know what that can lead to and I hope my short story so far proves that!
How to connect with Ben Towse and Williams Racing…
You can follow the @WilliamsRacing team’s content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube and on williamsf1.com, it’s been a great season so far so make sure you keep an eye out for the upcoming content!
Thanks for reading our chat with Ben Towse! If you want to read more from our Industry Insider series, you can do so by clicking here.