Slowly, very slowly, things are getting back to normal for motoring journalists, prs, the industry and dealers but no-one knows what that “new normal” will be or how it will work out and that is potentially a sticking point for everyone which will not take forward change in a meaningful manner.
This month, the European car makers’ body unveils “a change of look, a change of shape, a change of voice” but we have yet to learn what the components’ industry will do to, for instance, ensure a better supply of micro-chips which has seriously affected global production and new vehicle supply, or if the body looking after the interests of the motor manufacturers and traders in Britain will respond to change in supply, stocking, buying and distributing new models.
The accelerating growth of pure electric vehicles has found manufacturers wanting in terms of models, competitive pricing, and supply while the lack of public charging points outside conurbations is akin to the continuing issue over fast broadband and that’s not been sorted despite action starting over a decade ago.
The power suppliers need to pick up their pace of provision and variety of charging solutions while local authorities are blindly pressing ahead with zero or low emission zones which will effectively ban or heavily penalise ICE models and the delivery service industry, so pushing more businesses out of towns and cities, with the knock on effects for smaller businesses in food and drink sectors.
Below the international and national bodies looking after the automotive industry we also learned last month that the 50-year-old Motor Industry Public Affairs Association has seemingly been scrapped and recycled into the Motor Industry Communicators Association and reading their press release it still looks like the old body in a new suit. MIPAA engaged with motoring writers and as “customers” of the new MICA it is to be hoped this relationship will not only be re-established but embellished and that the title will include the Communicators in the media as well, particularly among the regional groups.
Certainly, the writers have had a very hard time over the last 12 months with events and launches paused and the press fleets’ curtailed or rationalised due to Coronavirus requirements. It also seems that press offices are taking an in-depth look at who is writing about what and where their thoughts are being expressed, both on line and in print. A few press offices have appointed PRs who as part of their remit look at on-line presence and than work with local dealers to discover what works for them. This is to be encouraged as it gets back to the basic theory of providing what customers want through knowing what is selling.
It therefore beholds local media outlets and those of national groups to engage with the dealers and ensure local stories and road tests fill their pages on a regular basis.
Is it fanciful to think that the 2020s could see a return of the local motoring writer? Possibly there is a road ahead for them after all and the once lauded bloggers and vloggers who have claimed incredulous followers on line will no longer hold the attention of the doe-eyed PRs.
Events are getting back onto calendars and into diaries with some changes to protect participants but the necessary steps will see smaller groups and more dispersed events. It will help if the hosts give as much notice as possible and the invitees either accept or decline as soon as possible so their place can be filled or offered to another.
It is probably more important now than before that journalists offered places do not cancel without good reason or just become no-shows. Perhaps it’s time for MICA to operate a black list of the worst offenders and let their colleagues know so no time is wasted on them and the valued places are offered to those who would appreciate the opportunities.
Robin is the longest serving chairman of The Western Group. He’s been vice chairman or chairman for over ten years and oversees the annual Western Group PR Driving Day each summer assisted by the group committee and supported by group members.
He contributes to a number of outlets in Wales and the UK, including the Driving Force editorial syndication agency feeding the biggest regional news and feature publishers in Britain.
Robin specialises in the Welsh automotive sector and motor related businesses with interests in Wales and publishes WheelsWithinWales.uk which covers news, features, trade and motor sport in Wales.