The History of PR in the Automotive Sector
- SEMA, the Auto Aftermarket and the Automotive Media all started in the same place: with Wally Parks and Robert E. Petersen at a Hot Rod Show in Los Angeles and on the dry lakebeds of Southern California.
- Petersen’s business model was simple:
- Make a magazine (Hot Rod) about the burgeoning speed parts industry
- Create ads for his first advertisers
- Write stories about those advertisers to back up the ads with editorial endorsement
- It worked well! Brands like Isky, Edelbrock, So-Cal Speed and MOON all did well
- George Barris, known as the “King of Kustoms,” was actually a very early PR pro. He would shoot pictures of his brother Sam customizing cars, write up articles and send to Petersen for use in the magazines. This built his reputation – and his business. Darryl Starbird followed a similar path. That model still works today.