How to do car PR in 2024 & 7 great automotive PR stunt examples

How to do car PR in 2024 & 7 great automotive PR stunt examples

What is automotive PR, and how can you stand out among the competition?

While there are some hardcore car enthusiasts out there, for the rest of us, a car is just a car. Sure, we might enjoy a particular brand over others, but really, people pick which car to buy based on availability, price, features, and above all, color.

This can make automotive public relations a little bit tricky. How do you get people excited and motivate them toward action when they generally just don't care that much? How do you get news coverage when cars are just… cars?

Unless your car is an autobot.

How to stand out in car PR

I'm honestly not sure how you got to this article. Maybe you accidentally fell into an automotive public relations role and need the basics. Or you're a seasoned pro who just wants to brush up on the niche.

Either way, we should start by saying that automotive PR is not altogether different from any other type of PR. It's all about getting in the head of your customer and appealing to their primal need to not take the bus anymore. That said, here are some key reminders when considering how to best approach your next auto PR campaign.

Spotlight what will generate headlines

So, what makes your vehicle sparkle among the rest? What do you do differently than, say, a Ford Pinto? And, most importantly, what will yield the most buzz?

When it comes to PR, it's not just about the advertisement. It's about the newsworthiness. What makes your auto news a compelling story?

So whether the car has some groundbreaking new feature, the company is shaking up the industry, or you're engaging in some sort of philanthropic CSR initiative, really lean into what journalists will care about.

Be on the lookout for reactive opportunities

Unfortunately, the automotive industry is not the flashiest or sexiest of all PR niches. Nor is it known to be particularly funny or interesting on social media. That doesn't mean you can't try, though.

Engage your social efforts and public relations efforts with virality in mind. Maybe it catches on, maybe it doesn't. You can't really control that part. But, you can be strategic in how you shape your reactive responses to potentially viral moments.

Appeal to hearts, not minds

It's a little bit surprising how emotional a car-buying decision can be. Sure, we want to think with dollars and cents. But nostalgia, brand loyalty, and appeals to emotion are powerful factors in the car-buying process. As many of the examples below will show, consumers need to open their hearts before their wallets when making the choice of what car to buy.

So, think about safety. Think about legacy. Consider the car as the backdrop to your customers' lives. The vehicle that will take their babies to daycare and their teens to prom. Sure, it may be a little bit cheesy. But it is certainly a lot more motivating than whatever the hell an RPM is.

Use a free Prezly trial to build your emotive automotive press release!

BlockCollection - 3 automotive press release exampleshttps://www.prezly.com/design-system/entry/5CaGpMN0Y02heKWm4dkjyZ?type=blockCollection

Automotive PR examples

To get your creative juices flowing, take a gander at these recent automotive PR stunts.

1. Sony & Honda's AFEELA car/video game

If you had "Honda/PlayStation hybrid" on your Unnecessary 2024 Technology Bingo sheet, feel free to mark it off. Because for some inexplicable reason, Sony and Honda are teaming up to create a drivable Fortnite billboard. This car can be driven with a PlayStation controller. But should it?

Frankly, we don't know who the market is. Cool teens? Irresponsible adults? But either way, Sony and Honda are getting some solid earned media coverage out of the collab.

The lesson: Don't forget to team up with other brands for a special, viral moment. Even if it doesn't make sense.

2. Stanley cup car fire

Alright, this one is only peripherally relevant, but we're counting it because it's iconic. This lady's Kia Sorento inexplicably caught on fire, and her Stanley cup not only survived the blast but also managed to keep her ice from melting amidst the inferno. While this is, by all objective metrics, a bummer for Kia, this is an absolutely unbelievable marketing opportunity for Stanley.

The Stanley PR team continued the slay by replacing her destroyed car. Amazing.

The lesson: Your reactive PR can be even more powerful than an expensive paid campaign.

3. Chevy's touching holiday ad

Nostalgia and John Denver are a powerful combination.

Chevrolet proved you don't need to kickflip a car to get people talking. This almost five-and-a-half-minute Chevy ad is guaranteed to make you shed a tear (or six) while reminding you that vehicles often act as the important backdrop of some of our most precious moments.

The lesson: Don't forget an emotional appeal to touch hearts and minds.

4. Tesla, Lambo, Mr Beast… Elon Musk?

Famous YouTuber, philanthropist, and yelling man Mr Beast test-drove, blew up, and flew cars ranging from one dollar to one million. If this isn't PR aimed at the youths, we certainly don't know what is.

But, like all good public relations, it got people talking. And some of those people were, in fact, Elon Musk.

The lesson: Your PR doesn't have to look like a dry press release anymore. It could look like an insane viral video.

5. Chevrolet’s Sonic gets kickflipped

Chevrolet’s may be the coolest stunt on this list (and the only literal stunt as well). They employed sports legend Rob Dyrdek to transform a Chevrolet Sonic into a stunt car.

So what did they do to garner some attention for Chevrolet? They let Rob Dyrdek literally kickflip it on a race track. Their stunt was successful and got some well-deserved attention.

The lesson: Sometimes PR stunts are literal stunts, and that's cool.

6. Audi’s disappearing billboards

When Audi launched the A7 Sportback, a car that only emits vapor, they did some unusual advertising for it. They dubbed it "Disappearing Billboards". And that name says it all. They created the billboards by emitting vapor and then projecting their ads on it.

When the ad was over and the vapor faded away, no evidence of their "billboard" remained. A spectacular and definitely innovative way to create highly shareable content.

The lesson: Creative campaigns are often shared and talked about way more than generic ones.

7. Self-parking office chairs by Nissan

To round up this list, Nissan gets the last number of the show. To promote their new intelligent parking assist technology, Nissan created self-parking office chairs. How does it work? Well, don’t ask us about the technical details, but with a single clap, the chairs all neatly move back into position under their respective desks. Definitely a cool feat, and it surely makes for a story worth telling.

The lesson: Sometimes a metaphor can be pretty cool and creative.

Did we miss a great stunt? Let us know at @prezly. Interested in more automotive inspiration? Check out these automotive press releases to gas up your PR initiatives. 👇

Automotive Press Release Exampleshttps://www.prezly.com/press-release-examples/automotive

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Updated January 2024

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