An interview with the Circuit of the Americas Social Media Manager, Harlow Yeager
Harlow Yeager isn’t the type of person to sit back and be formal. He is the definition of an Austinite.
Wearing a band t-shirt, jeans, and boots Harlow Yeager adjusts his Ray-Ban sunglasses and takes a seat at a patio table. Aston Martin Vulcan cars race around on track setting blisteringly fast laps. His first several sentences contain the words f**k, sh*t, and other vulgarities that aren’t exactly appropriate for a college homepage.
Every year, hundreds of students graduate from UT and set out into the real world searching for a job that will pay enough for them to afford a place in Austin, pay off their loans and in some way, change the world with what started here.
As communicators humans are constantly seeking to express themselves and be given affirmation. It’s easy to see then why communicators for companies are a necessity, but not everyone can spend their days expressing their thoughts and opinions and get paid for it.
In a world based entirely around communication, doing so in an effective manner is what separates a lighthearted tweet from an offensive slander.
But Harlow Yeager makes it work. Currently the Digital Marketing Manager at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas Harlow Yeager lives the dream. With million dollar cars around his work space and browsing the internet to get paid.
And like many other success stories Yeager’s comes from humble beginnings and self-realization.
Growing up Yeager went to school in the DFW area and always dreamed of being a Longhorn. Visiting UT as a high schooler “I instantly fell in love, just like everyone does when they come here.” Yeager says “Seeing the stadium and the six-pack, I was enchanted.” With a nostalgic and reminiscent look about himself Yeager reflects on what brought him so far in life.
Yeager attended UT from 2008-2009 after transferring from Texas State. At Texas State Yeager like many students in their first few years at college, “didn’t feel at home and struggled to make friends.” But after transferring Yeager says he “felt at home instantly.”
Having studied political science, Yeager planned to go to law school after graduating but he knew if he took a year off he wouldn’t want to come back.
Instead, Yeager found a job working for the Attorney General’s Office. After several months, Yeager had a self-realization that he wasn’t pursuing his interests in music or passion for making people laugh.
Through his Twitter account, Yeager gained popularity and was offered a part time job with ACL Live. Yeager was able to continue learning about music and marketing. But “tweeting professionally is a lot different than tweeting on your personal account.” Yeager says, as he laughs.
But the time spent on Twitter paid off. “Crafting messages on Twitter was best for formulating and building my writing skills” Yeager says.
After a few years of searching for where he belonged Yeager was brought to COTA to do in house social media. Edgar Farrera, the sustainability director at COTA who has worked alongside Harlow Yeager on several projects, says Harlow “has a fantastic attitude and always exhibits great integrity in his work” Yaeger’s work with COTA includes managing the circuits Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages and website.
Recently, COTA was rated as the number one social media accounts for Formula One race circuits. “Being recognized for my work is great.” Yeager says, leaning back right as another Vulcan roars by. “It just makes you think ‘Shit. We’ve made it.’”
“I think he was voted the best because he works hard to remain relevant. In social media that is critical!” Farrera says.
The most difficult part of managing the media at COTA is “communicating to those who don’t understand,” Yeager says. COTA hosts a large variety of events including Formula One racing, Moto GP (motorcycle racing), Le Mans Racing (prototype car racing), and even vintage car racing.
In the past, COTA has been the host of the X-Games and plenty of concerts. With that, COTA and Yaeger are tasked with bringing a variety of people to their events. That’s where Yaeger’s skills can connect with fans through social media and draw in more than just the hardcore advocates.
When speaking about the X-games and crisis management, Yeager laughs to himself and says “we had problems. Have you ever seen a Port-a-Potty move when you’re in it?” he pauses. “It’s no f**king fun.” As a company, COTA has to resolve problems and let the public know “we’ll fix them. We understand.”
As a UT graduate and fellow Longhorn, Yeager’s insight into the Austin community makes him extremely valuable. As Yeager describes it COTA tries to “differentiate from other venues and sweeten the deal with a festival environment.” COTA is always looking to stand out and offer more. “We market everything as a blowout party.”
“I think having gone to school in Austin certainly helps us both connect, and understand, our community.” Edgar Farrera, another UT graduate, says. However, what’s most important about connecting with their audience is being a part of the community. With both Yeager and Farrera supporting the Longhorns, they certainly connect on another level.
As society continues to rely more and more on communication, Yeager is using people’s need for excitement to draw in new audiences. Hosting events that people can look at and want to be a part of is what’s best. Giving people a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out) is the goal, Yeager says.
COTA burst on the scene of Austin back in 2012 and has continually remained a main attraction for locals and tourists. Their events range from offering the only Taylor Swift concert in 2016, the only stop for Formula One in the United States, to the home of the X-games for three years.
While it takes a lot of moving parts for a company as large as COTA to function, their growing success in can be attributed to their ability to offer a new experience for every event, every time.
And without the effective connection and marketing done by Harlow Yeager, it might not be possible.
Yeager left they University of Texas unaware that he would have the opportunity to pursue his interests in social media and music. Yeager admitted that he was lucky to know what he wanted to do in life. Yeager says having a good understanding of what you want helps to guide you towards a dream career.
Today, Yeager connects with people all around the world. He brings laughter and excitement to more than just the hardcore fans but also to any who are looking to smile and have a good time. Bringing joy and happy memories may last longer than results or profits from any race or concert at COTA. In his own way, Harlow Yeager changes the world with what started several years ago at UT.