Article by Harvey Briggs, Publisher and Editor - Rides & Drives
For MAMA members who aren’t members of a major media organization (or even if you are), it’s good practice to maintain visibility with communications staff at the auto companies. The more they see your work and come to appreciate your point of view, the better chance you’ll have at getting on vehicle loan lists and receiving program invitations.
Trevor Dorchies, Ram Truck PR Manager, advises, "One of the best ways to be made aware of a story is to send a clip to the fleet company once the story is posted. Another would be to simply send the story directly to the PR person as it goes live. That also helps you develop a rapport with the OEM, shows them you value the time spent with the vehicle and keeps them up-to-date on your work."
While companies like Drive Shop and G. Schmitz monitor and report the press generated by the vehicles they distribute, Curt McAllister from Toyota says, “Don’t assume we see the stories you write. Send links and even hard copies if it’s in print to both me and Matt Hruska [Drive Shop].”
You really have two main avenues to share your work: social media and email.
Many communications people are on Facebook and Twitter so you can tag them in the posts of your reviews. It’s more important, however to tag the manufacturer’s media account.
According to Elizabeth Williams, Communications Manager for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, “While people do tag me personally when they post stories, we track everything on our media accounts so you’re better off sharing things there.”
Email is your best bet to make sure your work is noticed. But don’t overdo it. Put the name of the vehicle in the subject line, just a quick personal note thanking them for the loan or hospitality at an event, and a link to your story. Don ’t carpet bomb the story to everyone on the communications team. Start with your regional communications representative and the person most relevant to the vehicle you ’ve covered at HQ. If you don’t have them, emails for the appropriate contacts are readily available on the manufacturers’ media websites. It’s a good idea to create your own contact spreadsheet and update it regularly as people do move around.
One final piece of advice from McAllister, “Make sure you send it even if a story is less than flattering. It helps us to know what’s being said out there. And really, we don’t hold it against anyone as long as it’s fair.”