Zach Horrall ’19
Social Media Specialist, Indianapolis Motor Speedway
How did Butler prepare you for your career?
As Social Media Specialist for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), I’m responsible for the day-to-day operations of all of IMS’ social media channels and the content that gets used on those channels. Our social media channels are a direct conversation with our race fans and potential race fans so it has to represent the brand we’ve built. Doing so requires a wide variety of skills, from writing to content strategy, video editing, analytics, marketing, and more. Butler prepared me so well for this because my college courses were so varied and diverse. As a Journalism major in the College of Communication, I took writing classes, video editing classes, sports and strategic communication classes, and so much more.
What knowledge or skills gained at Butler have been most useful in your career?
I’ve found the writing skills I discovered and honed at Butler have been most useful in my career and will continue to be. Social media posts have to be crafted in such a way that makes fans and followers feel connected to the organization. You have to know how to articulate your thoughts, your marketing campaign, and your communication strategy to your followers, or your potential followers, so that they’ll buy into what you’re selling them. In my broadcast classes, Scott Bridge really hammered home that sentences in your TV scripts needed to be succinct—25 words or less. To this day, when I’m crafting messaging for our social media channels, I often find myself counting the words in a sentence to see if it’s 25 or less.
What is the most important thing you learned at Butler?
The most important thing I learned at Butler was who I am. I came to college thinking I knew what I wanted to do (be a motorsports journalist). But, everything about Butler— the classes, the professors, the friends I made, the opportunities I was given—helped steer my life in a little bit of a different direction, and certainly the right direction. I truly believe if it weren’t for Butler University, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now.
What is something you loved being part of at Butler?
I was a part of the Butler Collegian all four years of college, and I absolutely loved it. I was a sports writer, sports editor, and digital managing editor during my time, which really helped me hone in on a skillset that I use today—crafting words for a digital world in the sports realm. I spent many nights (and early mornings as we prepared to publish on Wednesdays) in the Collegian office, and I fostered incredible connections with so many people that are still great friends to this day.
Who influenced you most while a student?
There are so many people that influenced me while I was at Butler. Loni McKown was an incredible Journalism instructor and taught me how to be a journalist. Nancy Whitmore was an amazing professor and advisor that helped guide me through college. Maggie McGlynn was one of the best administrative specialists I’ve come across and served as a sounding board for me personally and academically. Sally Perkins was a wonderful professor and storyteller that taught me how to tell stories verbally and in written form that evoke emotion and capture audiences. And Brooke Barnett, who was coming in as the Dean of the College of Communication at the time, was and still is a passionate leader that I admire greatly.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in pursuing a career in this field?
If you want to pursue a career in motorsports, do your research and find an area of the industry that you’re passionate about. There is so much going on in motorsports and so many opportunities for so many people. For me, I’m passionate about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway itself and storytelling, and I’ve found the exact right job that allows me to succeed in an industry I love. When you find something you’re passionate about, you’re destined for success.