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Brandware Public Relations | Atlanta | Los Angeles

The Rights and Wrongs of Auto Show Media Days

I’ve been in Detroit this week for the media days portion of the North American International Auto Show.  In addition to actual client work, it’s a great chance to reconnect with automotive industry colleagues as well as the business, consumer and lifestyle reporters who love cars and trucks. Unlike trade shows, no one’s here to sell anything other than coverage and content.  Getting shoppers psyched about the current and future crop of automobiles starts when doors open to the public.

For most of us who’ve been on the auto show circuit for a few years, there’s enough material to write a big book about the good, the bad and the very ugly. For now, here are a few pointers for anyone attending or hosting press events at a trade or consumer show. Be a pro – do it right.

Right: General Motors put the first numbered edition of the media launch event press kit for its new-generation Corvette Stingray on eBay, with all proceeds going to charity. Great idea, GM!

Wrong: Certain alleged members of the press who received an invitation to the media launch event promptly put their press kits up on ebay.

This has been going on ever since automakers started creatively packaging press materials. Tacky, with a capital T. Press kits are not a profit center.

Right: There were no reported fisticuffs or injuries sustained while rushing a press kit counter during the show, so perhaps civility is on the rise.  That would truly be a capital letter RIGHT.

Wrong. We suggest revoking media credentials to all attendees observed stripping the very cool, albeit heavy metal Jeep press kit box (a field “emergency” kit including the ever-invaluable hand sanitizer) of its press material content, just to get their hands on the freebies. It’s undoubtedly the same list of professionals who stuff their pockets and tote bags with biscotti and other treats supplied by exhibitors.

Right: Espresso bars and recharging stations are proliferating at the manufacturer stands. Kudos to exhibit managers for recognizing the two most important requirements for helping media manage 10 hours of back-to-back press conferences: caffeine and fully-charged devices.

Wrong: Watching a hospitality area guest openly and loudly berate a PR person because they’d run out of a certain lunch item. Note to the rude guest: no one is required to provide the costly, often multi-course meals served during media days. Have you priced convention food services lately? Be happy – or go buy a hot dog at a concession stand.

Right: To warm up for consumer days, exhibits are often staffed by a mix of knowledgeable, polished and helpful product specialists of both genders. We’ve worked with the agencies that manage these teams, and they undergo rigorous training and most know all the vehicle specs. They deserve courtesy.

Wrong: Exhibitors that insist on equipping their all-female product specialist teams in 6-inch heels and plunging necklines. Note to car manufacturers: don’t sagely nod at female car buyer statistics and give lip service to diversity.  Put it into action and start by taking a look at who’s representing your product in your stand.

What’s your favorite media days right and wrong?

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