Does it matter to PR that the Manchester Evening News has disbanded the team that is responsible for selling motoring advertising?
The newspaper claims that it will still “have key account motor agents dealing with local reps in the motor industry”, but surely this is an indication that motoring advertising is no longer of such significance.
And, without such specialist advertising, will there be much commitment to motoring editorial coverage?
The MEN used to be one of the most important regional titles with Keith Ward, its well respected motoring man, producing quality coverage. Indeed, this was the case for most of the major local newspapers that increasingly cut and paste press releases or buy in syndicated copy at ever decreasing fees.
Like many former staff newspaper journalists, Keith now works as a freelance – and PR practitioners in most industries today have a contacts book that includes fewer and fewer in-house journalists.
Motoring has a dedicated section at the MEN website and it is inevitable that those looking for information about cars and motoring generally will turn online as there are dozens of sources.
The increase in the number of freelance motoring journalists as well as those who set up online motoring sites is a real challenge for PR practitioners. They have increased calls on their decreasing resources – with fewer cars to loan and reduced places on events and launches.
So it’s no wonder that the MIPAA twice yearly meeting of Press Fleet Administrators in the motoring companies will have a record attendance next week.
But with less focus on specialist newspaper advertising, should we recognise that regional motoring journalists (whether in-house, freelance, or online) have decreasing influence? And if so, does automotive PR need to refocus its efforts elsewhere?