Automotive PR Trends in the Digital Age
As mainstream media (magazines, newspapers, TV and radio) caught up to Bob Petersen in the 1960s through the late 1980s, promoting aftermarket parts and services to the consumer through PR was very straightforward.
Proper promotion at the time included:
- Sending a print press release or new product release with an attached image (usually a photo)
- Calling the media outlet to ensure they received the release
- Cross your fingers and hope for the best
Challenges of this method:
- Difficult for anyone but agencies or high-dollar advertisers to get access to editors
- Low percentage of “pick up”, meaning not many media outlets will write a story
- Mainstream media acts as “filter” between manufacturer and the consumer.
- Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, at this point in time was strictly talking to your customers on the phone or in person at a store. No way to communicate in a mass market way directly with the customer.
PR in the Modern Age
As the internet and social media have evolved and gained steam, it has radically changed the way companies and people can promote themselves. In 2008 PR pro Brian Solis, who works in Silicon Valley for dot coms, coined the phrase “PR 2.0”, which includes the following tactics:
- Direct B2C and B2B communication without filtering the message through mainstream media
- Channels for direct communication and promotion can include:
- Digital newsletters Social Media Content (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, Youtube, etc)
- Company blogs and news pages
- Search engine optimized website content
PR in the Digital Age
For the first time, companies could communicate directly with the consumer, the customer, and the press. This development has both positives and challenges.
- Ability to control customer relationship with the brand
- Real-time feedback on open rates, views, web traffic. You can actually see if a message is resonating with customers, or if its failing.
- Cost-effective. Most channels are free or very low cost, biggest investment is labor to create the content and monitor the channel.
- There is no filter. If doing promotion in-house, all content must be proofed, examined and approved by engineering, sales and management. Can’t go back and fix mistakes once they are on the web.
- Transparency and openness can be a double-edged sword. Companies that make excellent products or provide stellar service will be rewarded. However mistakes will also come to light thanks to “comments” sections on social channels. Be prepared to deal with setbacks quickly and decisively.
- Very labor intensive, requires constant monitoring. Most common mistake in modern PR is when brands think they can assign an in-house sales person to work on Digital PR a few hours a week.
If hiring an agency isn’t an option, it is critical to devote at least a few hours a day to promoting and monitoring your digital footprint.