March 27, 2014
/ by Allen Mireles
What happens when a well-planned media tour, complete with a wide range of personalities from trade publications, to industry and lifestyle blogs, goes…exactly as planned?
The attendees let loose in social media and traditional PR.
Videos and photographs are shared.
Buzz grows…people start to sit up and take notice. And ask questions.
The 2015 Chrysler 200 Media Drive in Louisville took place over the weekend. Chrysler invited 23 journalists and bloggers to come to Louisville and test drive the 2015 Chrysler 200. The group included gearheads and lifestyle bloggers—and me.
Ours was the last of a series of media drives and, according to our hosts, went almost exactly as planned.
A media tour, or in the case of the automotive industry, media drive, is an essential part of telling a new product introduction story. The media drive offers influencers a chance to learn about the “nuts and bolts” of the product’s features and benefits, as well as the opportunity to get behind the wheel and try it out for themselves. In today’s socially connected marketplace, traditional media and social media can work hand in hand to tell a new product story. Especially after an event that goes well.
Pulling off a successful event requires planning and preparation. Pulling off a successful media drive takes that, and more. So how did they do it?
According to Product PR Manager, Kathy Graham, preparation for the drive is a collaborative effort and starts months in advance. Everything – from the choice of location, drive route, accommodations, schedule, staffing, menus and entertainment to the collateral materials, presentations and giveaway items – is carefully thought through for maximum impact.
Inviting a cross section of people creates opportunities to tell the 2015 200 story to new audiences. Identifying those people is just part of the planning process.
Finding and securing the right locations for your media drive is essential. The 2015 Chrysler Media Drive in Louisville was staged in several locations. We stayed in the boutique hotel and contemporary art museum 21C. The hotel, home to the iconic red penguins, offers impeccable service, incredible food and an array of thought-provoking art exhibits.
Our vehicle presentations were held in the Louisville Slugger Baseball Stadium and included 2015 Chrysler 200 models LX, S and C as well as engine components and luxurious interiors.
The stadium provided an excellent backdrop for the cars and engine displays, the high ceilings added visual drama and the acoustics worked well.
The drive route included a combination of rural roads, some with near-hairpin turns, and highways, allowing each driver to test how the car handles under different conditions.
We drove out to Hermitage Farm, a 700-acre Thoroughbred nursery and sport horse training facility, to enjoy a leisurely lunch. While there, we were offered the opportunity to drive competitor vehicles and test out additional drive route loops.
We ended the day at a fun and funky downtown saloon in a former auto service garage aptly named, the Garage Bar, enjoying craft beers, bourbon and wood fired pizza. AND, comparing notes on our test drives and reactions to the cars’ features and design.
Your spokespeople can make or break a presentation and how it is received. Chrysler brought in the brand, design and engineering executives who had worked on the 2015 200 project. Each of them did a short presentation on their area of involvement and included their personal observations about the process.
They gave us a taste of what makes the car exceptional and offered to be available throughout for any questions we might have afterward. We were given a lot of information, but not so much that it overwhelmed. The genuine excitement and interest in each of the spokespeople’s presentation was contagious, which perfectly set up the actual test drive.
The Chrysler messaging was consistent and well delivered. The team members were knowledgable. Everyone from the Chrysler team was friendly and kind and seemed genuinely interested in our reactions to the cars. They also seemed to really want us to be as excited about the project as they were. And that excitement was contagious.
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Making sure your audience has exactly what they need, when they need it, is key. Chrysler presented us with an absolutely gorgeous media kit, easily downloadable images and video, names and contact information of everyone on the team and the names of the people who were attending with us.
We were also supplied with the hashtag for use in social media and have been able to easily find and follow the blog posts and articles that have been generated since we left Louisville.
As I monitor the #Chrysler200 hashtag on Twitter and in search, I‘m starting to see the blog posts and articles being shared. The buzz is building and people are starting to ask questions about the car.
The combination of articles and reviews coming out in the automotive trades and the reviews and opinions being shared in social media are almost to a word hugely positive. One almost has the sense that some new Chrysler enthusiasts were born out of this experience.
And there are the people like me. Who went to Louisville, met some cool folks, drove a fabulous car—and fell in love with it.
Now I want one for my own.
Allen Mireles is a strategist with an affinity for technology who lives/works at the intersection of social media and traditional marketing/public relations.Want to read more from Allen? Click here!
Images courtesy of Chrysler and Allen Mireles.
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