Massive savings programs at the automakers and Corona seem to be the synthesis of serious changes in terms of product launches. In some companies, it was even briefly considered to completely cancel driving ideas for new cars and only communicate digitally. All-clear: Despite Corona, all companies do not want to do without personal contact with journalists.
"Our boss suggested that we could save the money for driving events in view of Corona for the next few years," reports a PR man who "does not want to be called" because "I then blocked this attempt to attack our press work." have". It may be that other managers have also thought of using the future corona normality to save in product communication; But they have not completely renounced the savings idea either.
Almost everyone emphasizes that it is important to enable journalists to talk to engineers, designers and managers. "This cannot be done on the Internet," says the press man, who is not mentioned. "It was not difficult to make it clear to our CFO that a press event is more than a cost factor, but rather serves to perceive our company as an innovative automaker."
But car presentations after Corona will still look different than before the pandemic: Florian Urbitsch, Head of Product Communication at Volkswagen, outlines the strategy after Corona as follows: "We will maintain driving ideas, but have smaller groups and organize a lot in the Wolfsburg area." only twelve media were invited to a driving event for the ID.3. "However, you can see that from the not very broad response that VW was able to register earlier," criticizes a journalist who was not invited. And adds: "I am sure that the lack of broad impact will lead to a rethink."
Smaller groups for hygiene reasons
Something similar can be learned at Audi: “We believe that personal contact with you, the journalists worldwide, is essential in the future. To this end, we will continue to attach great importance to the fact that you can exchange personal information with our experts from technical development, product marketing and other areas. The best format for this is still driving events as presence events. Last week we started again to start such presence events. Due to the current situation, these are still taking place on a small scale with few participants. At the same time, we are also breaking new ground and offering many events in digital form. For example, we recently organized an Audi TechTalk on charging and a virtual sneak preview of the Q5 facelift. ”
Anne Wollek, Head of Press Fiat Chrysler FCA says: “Even if times change, we don't want to miss out on driving events and personal contact. There will certainly be a shift here and there towards digital content. In addition, we will continue to hold events - however, these are of course adapted to the current circumstances. For example, we will work with small groups, only occupy vehicles individually at events, etc. A corresponding safety and hygiene concept will be developed for each event to ensure safe working for everyone. Personal contact - be it at a distance and with a mask - is still very important to us. "
Only one journalist per car at driving events
Mercedes-Benz spokesman Tobias Müller sums it up briefly in a similar way: “We are still planning regular driving shows next year. However, we are adapting these to Covid 19-specific, aligning them to the respective framework conditions and making them scalable. ”In principle, not much will change at BMW in Munich either. Press chief Ingo Wirth replies to our request: “We are currently planning to continue organizing driving events for media representatives. Of course, due to strict hygiene measures, these corona take place with a reduced number of participants per day. As usual, the test car awards will additionally support the vehicle launches. "
Conclusion: Corona does not ignore the press departments without consequences. That also means savings, even if nobody says so. But it is not as radical as a CFO would briefly consider. For many journalists, however, this means that they are no longer invited because the groups have to shrink for hygiene reasons. In a test car for two - that will be forbidden in the future. However, nobody knows how long Corona will be involved in press work. Many of the measures will be implemented quickly and will also become the rule after Corona.