THE ROAD AHEAD
Just after Autowriters.com published its revised update of the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s auto coverage, the paper announced it was reorganizing to put digital media first. It joins the NY Times, the LA Times, Gannett’s "information center" concept for its national chain of newspapers, Freedom Communications' 70 newspapers and magazines re-launching their web sites, and no doubt hundreds of others doing their own version of the digital media dance. The Journal is seeking to: "Grow digital, reinvent print, create more regular local enterprise (distinctive content) that readers cannot get elsewhere, improve its news and information gathering." Clint Williams, the Atlanta Journal’s autowriter, said it was too soon to know what effect the paper’s reorganization will have on his work. Common Sense Journalism blogger Doug Fisher summarizes the Atlanta Journal’s new plan as “the ‘unhooking’ of the content creation from the publishing platform.” Which means, according to a recent survey, that for the most part persons working in digital newsrooms or information centers are not expected to originate stories. Rather they are more likely to combine traditional copy editing skills with HTML, Photoshop, use of a content management system and Web usability tools. This, in turn, implies that the reporter needs to provide materials useable on several platforms. Mindy McAdam, blogging at TeachingOnline Journalism, suggests digital journalists should start with an inexpensive audio recorder, an then, practice, edit, practice and edit; then add video skills, starting by reading a couple of daily journalism blogs: Angela Grant's, In the Circle and Cyndy Green's, VideoJournalism. She says you will learn a ton if you do. Then review what you shoot with your information center editor to learn how to do it better the next time. But don’t waste time editing yourself, she cautions, unless you already have experience or are a natural. Soundslides, McAdams says, is the easiest entry to online storytelling and will take only a couple of days to produce useable work. . . . Among the reasons newspapers offer for digital first, other than the potential cost savings in newsprint and distribution and the fact that their present and particularly, their prospective audiences, are increasingly getting their information from digital sources: the immediacy, visual and interactive potentials. Nearly instant constant coverage doesn’t seem to have considerable impact on most auto reporting. Visual, on the other hand does. Online video is one of the two hottest trends in mass communications. Bill Gates predicts in an Ad Age interview that Microsofts’s Virtual Earth program will make it possible to stroll streets online and turn into showrooms to shop just as we do now in real life. The other is interactive – conversation with readers or in marketing terms, consumers. Jim Stengel, CMO of Procter & Gamble, the world's largest marketer, said it succinctly in an Online Media Daily quote: "telling and selling" is defunct. It is gone forever.” He elaborated, ”Carefully crafted messages, force-fed through traditional media distribution channels, are largely being ignored by today's Internet-savvy consumers. In fact, it's no longer a one-way communication medium. The web has brought fundamental and irreversible changes to the way marketers promote their brands. Instead, it's about bringing a genuine relationship mindset to everything, everywhere and everyone. Nowadays, people are talking to each other in honest, real, genuine one-to-one online conversations.” For journalists, deciding what people need to know and how best to tell it no longer is the paradigm.
Lets Talk Cars is publicizing a speed record attempt by SSC, a US manufacturer
of exclusive super cars. Testing to set the world production speed record will
commence March 21, 2007 on a closed-down 12-mile stretch of Highway 93 in Elko
County, Nevada. MKM Racing has been hired to oversee safety and provide laser
traps to verify speeds to an accuracy of .01 mph for the attempt to break the
253 mph record currently held by the Bugatti Veyron. SSC is led by founder/lead
designer Jerod Shelby and their site states SSC is in no way connected to
Carroll Shelby. Lets Talk Cars is also publicizing a considerable collection of
“biker babe” pix which raises the question of what kind of "auto" road this blog
is taking. . . .
Bill Baker is staying flexible in promoting the first Lone Star 3000 (that’s 3000 kilometers) that starts May 10. He’s reduced the entry fee to $1,000, changed the prize distribution and renamed it the Lone Star 3000 Challenge. This reflects the addition of multiple driving tasks to be performed during the novel, non-race 1860-mile run that requires verified stops at multiple ATM check points. The event will start and end at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. It has been planned by highly experienced driving professionals for people who have the time and the means to challenge their driving skills, strategic thinking and problem solving abilities. Participants also will be supporting a very worthwhile cause: the Fisher House Foundation for military families that provides "a home away from home so they can be close to a loved one at the most stressful time -- during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury." April 15 is the entry deadline for the “run what ya brung” competition. Be forewarned, however, Subaru of America is entering a 2007 Subaru Legacy spc.B sedan with at least two pros sharing the wheel: Denise McCluggage and Sue Mead. The first-of-its-kind event will conclude with a victory banquet and prize distribution May 13. More information is available at http://www.LoneStar3000.com. In addition to this event Baker has 13 TV shows and numerous contributing writer gigs to do. All of which prompted him, ostensibly, to resign as vice president of MPG. . . . For those who prefer arm-chair racing with a chance to make some cash, Reality Racing, Inc. has made a pitch for investors as well as advertisers for its Spike TV show: The Rookie Challenge, slated to run from May 19 to August 18, 2007. . . . . Be it in-stream or in-page video, "viral" efforts, mobile, VOD or in-game, online video is one of the hottest trends in mass communications and experts predict it will remain so for the decade, particularly among younger consumers, who prefer their information in specific individual digital chunks as opposed to television. Car and Driver and Road & Track are already offering video car reviews at an estimated $250,000 a pop for the production and placement of the “virtual test drives” with commentary by magazine editors. Motor Trend’s recently re-designed web site offers video test drives and AutoWeek is expected to soon follow. . . . Ray Petkevis makes far less costly use of auto video for the Wilmington News Journal in Delaware. In a half hour show linked to the paper’s online auto section, he describes features and benefits of new model cars. No journalist, he avoids subjective appraisals and has no difficulty getting cars from participating dealers. Others papers in the Gannett chain are considering doing the same or similar, Petkevis says.
Toyota’s 2007 Directory of all PR Contacts in the U.S. is now available at their online pressroom. The seven-page directory is the quickest, surest way to get in touch with the person who knows what you want to know.
Carl Goodwin is one of the enduring core of auto lovers who make
“enthusiasts” sound sophomoric. Long before cars were considered
of their owners personality and long before they were chopped, channeled or
accessorized, he loved them just as they looked, responded and performed. Perhaps it was the brand new sports car Roger Penske drove to the Cleveland-area high school they both attended that hooked him on cars. As a young man he raced them, crewed them and corner-watched them. He also felt it was enough to be honest about cars, seldom given in his copywriting years to the hyperbole so often used to inject excitement, envy or other marketing points in ad copy. This played to his advantage when long before the current “Hemi” revival, Carroll Shelby persuaded his patron at the time, Dodge, to salute its then seldom-referenced power plant. Carl created a memorable and all too factual series of ads that reminded drag race enthusiasts and others that it was a Dodge Hemi powering the GM and Ford-bodied cars that were winning championships. Both companies complained to the National Hot Rod Association and the campaign was not renewed. Now that he is free of the Detroit car marketing wars, as his email address proclaims: firstname.lastname@example.org, he writes about storied cars, storied races and historic venues for Classic Car, Victory Lane, Auto Quarterly and a number of other outlets where he can let the facts revive the memories and recall the machines that have been so much a part of his life.
Mike Anson has put both feet on the “light side” after keeping one foot for several years on what he jokingly calls the “dark side” of automotive communications. He’s left American Suzuki Public Relations to start-up a new automotive trade publication serving the booming automotive aftermarket. Titled Styling and Performance, it becomes the 67th publication from Advanstar and the third member of its automotive aftermarket offerings, the others being Motor Age and Aftermarket Business. Styling and Performance will focus on the three major components of the automotive aftermarket: Traditional Aftermarket, High-Performance Aftermarket and the emerging OE/New Car Dealer/New Truck Dealer Aftermarket. A former Motor Trend editor and co-founder of the America On The Road radio show, Anson is seeking (last we heard) a full-time art director and a managing editor as well as contributing writers and photographers. His offices are behind the Orange (County) Curtain near John Wayne airport in California and he can be contacted at email@example.com. . . . C. Van Tune former Motor Trend Editor-in-Chief and host of ESPN’s highly-rated DRIVE! television series, has added “horse and cattle rancher” to his list of credentials. Van recently purchased a large working ranch in “Boonieville” Texas where, he tells us, he’s already experienced the thrill (??) of artificially inseminating heifers and castrating calves. Watch this space for info soon to be announced about Van’s new automotive division of his corporate ranch, which has a “top speed tested” rural two-lane right outside the front gates. No word yet if he’s cooking up something special with distant neighbor and good friend, Carroll Shelby. . . . Andrew Frankl has added a radio show to his long time posts as European Bureau Chief of The Automotive Channel and Grand Prix editor for Forza. He is now co-hosting The Automotive Journal, a one-hour show on KNEW-910 in the San Franciso Bay Area. . . . Brandy Schaffels, Neil Chirico and John Matthius are no longer with Motor Trend. No word, as yet, regarding their new plans. . . . Tom Nash recently formed Blue Car Media, a group of “very talented and experienced automotive technical writers” available to publications and manufacturers. He is a former Detroit Editor for Motor Magazine and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org . . . . Haig Stoddard, an analyst with Ward’s for years, is now with Global Insight, an analysis, news and forecasting firm in Detroit. . . . Jim Vella, former VP, Public Affairs and Chief of Staff at Ford, has moved to President, Ford Motor Company Fund. He replaced Sandra Ulsh, who retired. . . . Bill Maloney will pen a weekly column in the Honolulu Star Bulletin daily newspaper. Titled “A Bunch of Maloney,” it is a spin-off of his segment of the same name on the award-winning weekly auto/celebrity Ohana Road TV show he produces for ABC’s Honolulu station. . . . Chaz Osburn, former Automotive News National Editor and Gail Kachadourian, former reporter there, are now freelancers. Osburn is based in Edmonton, Canada and Gail in the Detroit metro area.
EVENTS, HONORS AND AWARDS
Automobile Magazine won top honors in its category at the 16th
International Automotive Media Competition (IAMC). . . Time is running out for "early" registration for the 2007
New York International Automobile Show. Media registration will be necessary for entrance to the
IMPA breakfast Wednesday, April 4, the opening event for the show's media days. Credential requests not already received will not be mailed and must be picked up on-site. On-site registration will be available starting Wednesday, April 4 at 6:30 AM. More details at
Unlike prior years, the show is generating a "unique" letter-number code for each applicant, which is needed in order to register online. There is a link on the autoshow site where you can e-mail
Sams Crispe Public Relations to request a code.
MARCH 13: NEMPA Winter Wheels Awards
MARCH 15: IMPA- Luncheon, New York, Traffic Reporting, Joe Nolan and John Del Giorno of Metro Traffic
MARCH 15: MAMA Luncheon, Chicago, Mike Yager, CEO of Mid America Motorworks (World's largest supplier of aftermarket accessories for Corvette, Porsche and VW)
MARCH 20: APA Luncheon, Detroit, “The State of Buick” Buick General Manager Steve Shannon
March 21: WAPA Luncheon, D.C., Center For Disease Control, hosted by GM OnStar
APRIL 3: MPG Luncheon, Los Angeles, J.D. Power and Associates
APRIL 15: Lonestar 3000 Rally Entry Deadline
APRIL 15-17: SEMA National Education Conference, Opryland, Nashville, Tenn.
MOTORING PRESS ORGANIZATIONS
The 13 regional automotive press associations provide information
and background not easily found elsewhere. If they are too distant
to attend their meetings, belonging usually gives you access to
transcripts or reports of these events and other benefits.
APA Automotive Press Association, Detroit - John Lippert, email@example.com
IMPA International Motor Press Association, NYC, Fred Chieco, President - firstname.lastname@example.org, www.impa.org
MAMA Midwest Automotive Media Association, Chicago - www.mamaonline.org
MPG Motor Press Guild, Los Angeles - www.motorpressguild.org
NEMPA New England Motor Press Association, Boston - www.nempa.org
NWAPA Northwest Automotive Press Association, Port Orchard, WA- www.nwapa.org
PAPA Phoenix Automotive Press Association, Phoenix- email@example.com
RMAP Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, Denver - firstname.lastname@example.org
SEAMO Southeast Automotive Media Organization, Charlotte, NC www.southeastautomedia.org
TAWA Texas Auto Writers Association - http://www.TexasAutoWriters.org, Harold Gunn, email@example.com
TWNA Truck Writers of North America, www.twna.org Tom Kelley, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
WAJ Western Automotive Journalists, San Francisco - www.waj.org, Michael Coates, president, email@example.com
WAPA Washington Automotive Press Association, D.C., Kimatni Rawlins, President - www.washautopress.org
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Glenn F. Campbell