What do car brands want to see from bloggers?

What are car brands looking for when they loan a car to a blogger? This is a question that I get on a fairly regular basis from the bloggers that I talk with. While many of us have been privileged to work with an auto brand at least once, it can often seem like a mystery of what they are looking for. Most importantly, the question of "did I do it right?" never gets asked or answered directly. Instead, it's typically a situation where you get asked back again or not. To help shed some light on this topic, I approached a group of my favorite automotive brands to get their feedback on the topic. These include: Toyota, Hyundai, Mazda, FCA (parent company of Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge), and Honda. 

"What do you look for when selecting bloggers to work with for car reviews and other driving opportunities?"

Toyota: Answered by Greg Thome, Toyota Communications Manager

Similar to our approach with all media, we first look to start and build relationships. We hope to create a mutually beneficial situation where we can discuss our product, it’s benefits to buyers, and how we think our various models might fit with a blog’s readers. As a company, we’re blessed with a full model lineup, both with the Toyota brand as well as the Lexus luxury brand. From Yaris to Prius to Tundra, we have a vehicle that appeals to every blog’s readers.”

Hyundai: Answered by Christine Henley, Hyundai Product PR & Social Media

It’s essential to look for bloggers who are genuine and authentic in their space, that also have qualities that ultimately align with the brand and/or product. This is probably the most important aspect when selecting bloggers, in addition to identifying their social impact within their space and the audiences they speak to.

Mazda: Answered by Marissa Borjon (Agency)

Part of our job as Public Relations professionals is to constantly identify and propose new and creative ways to help tell our client’s brand story. We recognize the value that bloggers bring to the table in helping share our brand story with their audiences. When researching potential bloggers to partner with, a few of the things we take into consideration are the nature of their content, the frequency of posting and the level of engagement with their audiences on their social media platforms.

As the PR partners for such a fun and spirited automotive brand, we are committed to building and strengthening earned media relationships on behalf of our client that will help Mazda achieve its business and strategy goals. While we’re just as interested in a blogger’s honest feelings about driving and experiencing a Mazda vehicle, we are even more excited about learning how our vehicles fit into their everyday lifestyles and passion points. Mazda is focused on enhancing our customer experience and bringing smiles to whoever drives, and rides in, a Mazda vehicle so we know that our blogger partners will have various ways of sharing those experiences with their respective audiences.

FCA (Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge): Answered by FCA US PR

Like other automakers and companies who work with bloggers, we look at aspects like the size of their digital communities, how open they are to PR pitches and reviews, and level of details in reviews. In addition, we look at where their core platforms are, and what type of reviews they do. With the range of influencers today, some do the “traditional” reviews on their blogs, and promote them on their platforms. However, many also are strictly on Twitter, YouTube or Instagram. While detailed reviews give long tail exposure, those frequent, real-time opinions over a shorter period of time also are valuable because they increase the number of opportunities for the posts to be seen.

Honda: Answered by Kathy Graham, Media Relations Manager

We look to see if their site is a good fit for what we are pitching, whether it is a brand experience or a product launch, after that we then look at the reach of the site and the engagement the blogger has with their followers. Last, if we are inviting more than one blogger, we look to see if the folks we are inviting are a good fit with each other. The rest of it is good. It also helps if folks are flexible and can roll with changes that might happen due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances (cancelled flights, etc.).

 

"What are you as a car brand looking for from the bloggers you choose to work with?" (i.e. are you looking for reviews or inclusion in lifestyle pieces)

Toyota: Answered by Greg Thome, Toyota Communications Manager

Blogs and other social outlets all have a specific style and approach to how they discuss products and experiences. We want to help make our vehicles fit organically in a blog’s content so that the readers feel comfortable with what they’re getting. Reviews can take various forms, either very straightforward like automotive sites do, or by showing how a vehicle’s features benefit people.”

Hyundai: Answered by Christine Henley, Hyundai Product PR & Social Media

Primarily we are looking for vehicle reviews because it is offers readers a different perspective through a lens they may identify better with. This also generates additional awareness for our brand/product to audiences that may be new to us. With this in mind, a traditional car review may not always fit their audience, but an integration into a lifestyle piece may be more natural. Therefore, we understand we have to be flexible with our expectations and work together on how we can all achieve our goals.

FCA (Fiat, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge): Answered by FCA US PR

In short, we’re looking for straight-forward, fair reviews on their platforms. These can be solely about the vehicle, or part of a larger piece, such as a travel post.

The bloggers we work with have built up strong communities around them and their various platforms. Their readers trust them. We respect that and value that, as it only makes their reviews that much stronger. Therefore, we don’t give direction or state any preferences for the types of posts they publish.

We will, such as at new vehicle drive programs, suggest a vehicle-focused hashtag to use. While that does help us track coverage, it also helps them to be part of the larger online community around the event.

Honda: Answered by Kathy Graham, Media Relations Manager

If it is a product launch? Reviews and product previews are the most helpful, but in many circumstances we also want inclusion in lifestyle pieces. It is really dependent on the individual pitch on what we'd like to accomplish. Bottom line though is we want to reach potential customers where they get there information.

 

 

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