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july 2012
newsletter


the road ahead

Audience is King

By Eric Killorin

In the golden age of computing—early 1980s to be precise—I had the good fortune to join Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) as the lone market analyst and writer among a sea of network engineers. DEC's Writing for the Reader became a constant companion for navigating the sea of narrative uncertainty. I wrote for techies and laymen alike during the era's transformation from scientific machines to consumer products. How prescient its theme is today!

Eric Killorin

Eric H. Killorin is a 30-year technology and publishing veteran, founder of Mobilia Magazine, and blogs about car publications at www.carpubinsider.com. Eric judges at national concours including Pebble Beach, and currently serves as Chief Business Development Officer at a new social commerce site slated for launch in Q3 of this year.

We are bombarded with the mantra "Content is King" to the accepting nods of publishers, journalists, and marketers. Yet is content all it's cracked up to be? Is content now so ubiquitous and accessible that it no longer holds regal status? With social media unleashing millions of wannabe writers, publishers, and photographers inhabiting playgrounds like Facebook and Twitter, can the professional high ground of trained journalists maintain their relevance? With a growing print obsolescence, can publishers afford full time staffers or even freelancers? In a nutshell, is the golden age of editorial vanishing?

Perhaps now is time to revisit content in the context of what it is today: A tool for consumers to express themselves… writing for the reader! And, for automotive writers, let's also examine ways to leverage your experience and skills in this brave new world.

Content is So Valuable Its Free

Without the story there's little reader traction, right? In some markets, automotive in particular, "ads are editorial" providing as much a red-pen experience as sheer entertainment. Direct response marketing contains its own rules for communicating and closing the sale. So too with engaging prose on the car industry we know and love. Describe a Ferrari barn find, or predict what eventually comes true (GM bankruptcy anyone?), and you had a reader for life.

Social media, beginning with message boards and forums in the late nineties, to blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and Pinterest, has changed the nature and distribution of content. Content is no longer the haven of staff-written articles dispensed as one-way communications from publishers to readers. Today, 50-word sound bites from anyone anywhere are the method of choice. A gallery of mobile phone images from Indy, or a burst of videos from Pebble Beach get the job done. Everyone is an unpaid observer of events, willing and eager to click their content over to a few thousand followers.

A July 16 post at Newsasour explores this phenomenon in the context of what I term the publishing equivalent of a Star Trek convention: Weird societies meeting by secret handshakes hoping their world will rise once again.

Their (traditional publishers) views were shaped in the pre-interactive era, when journalists, in their sole discretion, decided who to cover, what to report, what to write and when to publish it. Apart from the occasional crayon-scribbled note that arrived in the mail, readers seldom talked back, leaving little reason to doubt the work was being well received. This led to the ill-advised belief that journalists, in their sole discretion, were wise enough to know what readers wanted, whether they really wanted it or not.

Unfortunately, this type of one-way, prescriptive thinking suffuses journo-futuramas. But it is seriously out of step with the real world, where readers not only can talk back to the media but also publish news and commentary on their own. Politicians, entertainers, marketers and even humble hockey moms can bypass the legacy news media by establishing direct, one-to-one connections with their intended audiences.

This new democracy is not unlike that bygone era of computing where monolith mainframes ceded to "distributed computing," or peer-to-peer. More so today where every mobile device is a node of power just as capable as the next person's. Our world of publishing is perhaps 30 years behind but the parallels are uncanny: The traditional publisher/reader relationship is that of a few big machines dispensing information to many little machines. But no more. Readers themselves are dominating the creation and distribution of content. Enter the era of Audience.

Audience is King

Look no further than new media models that seek to rapidly amass large audiences and where the revenue model sits on the back burner. With Facebook's 900 million users and growing—and all that mined data—there's gotta be a bazillion-dollar business there somewhere, right?

Pinterest is the latest incarnation of this scary new trend where a zero revenue status at this hot new crafts sharing site is a badge of courage: $150+M in venture funding, 15M+ registered members, less than two years in business, zero income. Get big fast and forestall competitors; revenues will come later.

By creating new online centers of gravity, the new membership armies are the new content providers. They pay nothing for membership and thus become the product. And with the web becoming an increasingly visual medium, count on user-supplied images and videos to lead the story. Quick, easy, and zero cost to the reader. "Free" continues to have bragging rights as our language's most powerful word.

The automotive sector is dangerously vulnerable as we've seen with Road & Track moving to the Detroit home of Car & Driver followed by the likely melding of the titles (R&T has dropped 90K circ since 2008, C&D over 80K). Competitors Automobile and MotorTrend are not far behind. (Frankly, what's in their pages of any timely relevance?) On the collector side we have the former "Bible" Hemmings Motor News practicing an online strategy that restricts digital delivery for the sake of print fulfillment, and a classified ad policy delaying ad publication by as much as 30 days. I'll do eBay, thank you.

AutoTrader ceases all print last year to fully devote their resources online. AutoWeek is now, ah, bi-weekly to the tune of a reader class action lawsuit. Old Cars Weekly has reduced full time staff to one, and Automobile Quarterly's average reader age is 70+. Street rodders are among the most savvy online information seekers (anyone check out H.A.M.B. lately?) so what's gonna happen to Hot Rod? Of the 280+ automotive publications' I've tracked at Car Pub Insider since 2007, just 170 made it through my last census in March.

But wait, you say that these vaunted pubs boast websites chock full of advertising, feature articles, photos, blogs, and everything a web-enabled reader craves? Therein lays the conundrum: today's consumers have no interest in print brand legacies, sub pitches, a decision tree of ad placement options, and magazine pages stuffed onto an iPad. Drag channel conflict into the consumer mix is no recipe for capturing business. Consumers simply want to speed date fellow enthusiasts.

So What's a Writer to Do?

Writers can harness new media in ways never before possible. For those fortunate enough to have a steady stream of lucrative gigs, stick with it knowing even that gravy train has an end. For most, hiring publishers simply don't have the budget, or so dumbed down the payment structure that even college interns are looking elsewhere. In both cases plan to be your own brand where valued contacts and public reputation will distinguish yourself. Despite today's free flow of information, only you can tell a story your way and stories still matter.

Yeah, we're competing with scores of unleashed amateurs with dubious skills, but through competition the breed improves. Here's a few points to consider:

1. You're on Your Own. Demand is shrinking for professional writers earning lucrative fees and travel expenses. Distinguish yourself by storyline, research techniques, knowledge, and contacts to build a unique edge. Your personality as a writer has as much to do with content than the facts and figures filling the page. We are not Ken Purdy or David E., but many of us have hidden talents for transforming The History of the Dodge Brothers into a page turner. Check out Mike Cannell's The Limit and see what I mean.

2. Promote Yourself. Establish a Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Flickr presence. It is free and easy, but time consuming as much as half a day to keep current. Write little and often. Join the conversation on related user postings including car mags. Make a continuous and regular impact with your target audience.

3. Become a Brand Merchant. If George Forman can sell Panini makers, you can be a spokesman for Tire Rack. By demonstrating an ability to inform and sway, companies will be eager to enlist your influence peddling in creative new ways. No joke, the holy grail of product placement is enabling everyday consumers. Be the lynchpin in this new stealth sales model.

4. E-books. For writers, e-books are today's version of that famous line in The Graduate: "plastics." But I'm not talking long-winded tombs for thirty bucks a pop. Deconstruct a typical book into chapter titles priced at 99 cents. Or take a small slice of an automotive subject and you've got a 30-pager in a couple days effort. Have a collection of neat photos? Publish photo essay titles similar to the Iconografix series; they'll look terrific on an iPad. Hand it over to Amazon or choose among scores of self-publishing firms for sale and download, then move to the next one.

5. Get Paid. Okay, so you're the hot property on every car nut's touch screen and people seek you out for advice. You're writing every day and even The New York Times quotes your pithy remarks. So where's the beef? By establishing your credentials within a specific segment, speaking and consulting engagements are the natural next steps. For us wordsmiths the venues are abundant. Auction companies are always on the look out for catalog writers, "authorities" for vetting auction vehicles, and some even pay travel and daily fees to be onsite and help move the metal. Automotive companies may have the R&D and production side figured out, but how effective are they at grassroots consumer persuasion in this new digital arena? Your boots-on-the-ground experience is invaluable here. And the big opportunity will take place online itself as automotive manufacturers and the thousands of SEMA market vendors seek innovative methods for reaching their audiences. Know 1% more than your employer and he'll see you as an expert.

The New Face of Publishing

I began this article from the perspective that content is a commodity and where audience development is the new gold standard. As such, writers should leverage the power of audience to generate new demand for their services. We must also accept an erosion of the publishing model itself.

Newspapers and magazines served a purpose, but no longer. The new face of publishing is that of an electronic aggregator of like-minded consumers who converse, share, and acquire. They will become the new salespeople for branded category merchandise. Add the immediate propagation of posted content simultaneously across multiple forums; one can only embrace this for the quantum leap of progress it is. For those longing for the way it used to be, take note: These are the good old daze. Make them yours!

Click here to finish reading online.

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mac's moments

Maynard 'Mac' GordonMaynard "Mac" Gordon is Detroit
Correspondent and Marketing Representative for Autowriters.com.

Publisher and editor Glenn Campbell
said, "It's good to have Mac's knowledge and experience contributing in both areas." Detroit-born and raised, Gordon started newspaper editing in junior high and continued through senior high, college and military service, followed by a 19-year stint at Automotive News. He then purchased a dealer-focused newsletter, Motor News.

Dealership Decline Finally Ends

After a devastating loss of 3,200 GM and Chrysler dealers since the 2010 bankruptcies, plus 1,700 Ford dealers who lost the Mercury brand, signs of a recovery in new-car franchises have emerged.

The National Automobile Dealers Association reports that in the first quarter of 2012, the franchised dealer total gained 66 as 'hot brands' like Hyundai, Audi and Kia filled open points. Underscoring the reversal of fortunes in the U.S. market, NADA's directors took the opportunity at their midsummer meeting of naming a task force to study oppressive automaker programs that give urban dealers larger sales incentives and reward those who add costly facilities or undertake renovation projects.

The task force has several small dealers, led by NADA's chairman, William Underriner, who has Buick, Honda, Hyundai and Volvo franchises in Billings, Montana. Other members include NADA's vice-chairman, Forrest McConnell, a Honda-Acura dealer in Montgomery, AL, and Ed Tonkin, NADA's 2012 chairman, and a multi-franchise dealer in Portland, Oregon.

Underriner has called for "utmost speed" in tackling factory programs that harm smaller dealers.

A non-dealer expert in studies such as the one at NADA, Glenn Mercer, is leading the NADA project. Underrriner and McConnell have set a deadline of February for manufacturer compliance with the study's targets of equalizing demands for facility upgrades, improving return-of-investments goals and ending two-tier pricing and stair-step incentives.

Lexus Outdoes Detroit 3 in Quality

DETROIT-The latest quality study was not as 'closely watched' as its predecessors-and for good reason. General Motors had high hopes of placing No. 1 or No. 2 in the final rankings this year, but it fell short as its Cadillac brand finished only third behind repeater No. 1 Lexus/Scion in initial quality rankings. Cadillac was a disappointing fourth last year.

The annual quality survey by J.D. Power and Associates dealt some serious blows to Ford and Chrysler, owing to setbacks for the automakers My Ford Touch and Ford Lincoln Touch infotainment hands-free systems. Ford fell in the rankings to 28th out of 34 brands tested, with 118 problems reported for every 100 vehicles, as consumers continued to 'dis' operational hardships on both entertainment and phone systems in Ford and Lincoln models.

Once again, high marks were scored by luxury brands Jaguar in second place and Porsche in third. No. 1 Lexus had only 73 problems for every 100 vehicles; Jaguar and Porsche 75 each; Honda, 83; followed by Acura, Infiniti; Mercedes Benz, BMW and Mazda.

Trailing again in quality scores was the Chrysler Group. The Ram pickup finished 12th, up from 20th; Jeep advanced to 23rd from 25th and Dodge to 29th from 31st. But despite a multi-million dollar investment in quality upgrades, Chrysler and Jeep fell nine spots to 25th and Chrysler's Fiat 500 minicompact shared last place with Daimler's Smart brand.

J.D. Power analyst Dave Sargent, noting the industry wide problems with technology advances such as touch-screen and GPS miscues, said the 2012 results should be an impetus toward keeping new systems less complicated.

Maroone Sounds Off, EV Segment Grows

The EV battlefield widens, adding Honda Fit EV, BMW Active E to the segment, including Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius, and Ford Focus/EV.

But why include only leasing in marketing E-cars? Fit EV's monthly lease is strictly $389 for three years in 'select' West Coast markets; Active E-a 1-series subcompact-leases for $489/$2,250 a month and is limited to 700 in the U.S. out of 1,100 worldwide.

The Wall Street Journal gives both cars a ride in the early July issue. "Electrification of these systems continues to get better and better, writes WSJ's Pulitzer-prize winning autowriter, Dan Neil, who opines that the "Fit's center of gravity (presumably including the Toshiba center of gravity) is somewhere around Australia."

Mac's blog takes issue with AutoNation CEO Mike Maroone's op-ed piece in Automotive News, ripping into Obama's pro-government regulatory policies. No. 1 publicly-owned AutoNation has a flock of liberal vehicle owners, unhappy with the GOP snipes from Democratic partisans. Automakers should stay neutral, avoid politicking.

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passing scene

BMW series 6 convertible

Auto journalists took another "hit" (see Regional News) when Dennis Romero, wrote in his LA Weekly blog, "putting the hammer down in a hot German touring car is almost required these days for automotive journalists." He goes on to slam all auto writers, "And, so, rare is the journalist who has a clean driving record." Occasioning the comment was the report in three other outlets that an unidentified auto writer had garnered a $500 ticket from the California Highway patrol after being clocked at 136 miles per hour in a BMW M6 convertible. So common that at least three other blogs thought it was newsworthy!

Silvio Calabi forwarded a letter from a professor of energy economics at MIT who reports that he and a professor at U.C. Davis have co-authored a paper disputing claims as to how much ethanol production decreases gasoline prices. It is entitled "Ethanol Production and Gasoline Prices: A Spurious Correlation." They tested the validity of the statistical work underlying the claims and using the same statistical model "show" that ethanol production "decreases" natural gas prices and "increases" unemployment in both the U.S. and in Europe and could be used to "show" that it causes children to "age." The paper's authors are Christopher R. Knitel (knittel@mit.edu) telephone 617-324-0015) and Aaron Smith (adsmith@ucdavis.edu). 

This photo of the California Road & Track staff was taken at a "Thank You" bash organized by West Coast OEM PR guys: Scott Brown, Chrysler, Jason Camp, Ford, Tim Gallagher, Nissan and Darryll Harrison, Volkswagen.

California Road & Track Staff

A group of highly motivated and high-powered women are busy building a unique high-style luxury 2013 Ford Mustang GT to be displayed at this year's SEMA Show. Then it will be auctioned off on eBay for the benefit of the SEMA Memorial Fund which is dedicated to fostering the next generation of automotive aftermarket leaders and innovators. A satin-black Mustang concept was the winner among three designs the public was asked to vote for online via Source Interlink Media's many outlets. SIM publishes more than 75 special interest titles, maintains 100 web sites and has a number of TV and radio programs. The winning concept is described in the press release announcing the choice as, "meant to stimulate the senses by fusing luxury and power." The women will do their customizing work at a SIM's facility in El Segundo, Calif.

 Jos Thomas who works for Hyundai in India offers on his blog (http://mightydazzler.blogspot.com/2012/07/auto-journalism.html) what reads like a paper on Auto Journalism he may have written to earn his degree in mass communications. It is an interesting contrast with this month's Road Ahead piece.

What do you think?

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autowriters spotlight

Jimmy Dinsmore is first and foremost a journalist. He says, "Writing is in my blood, it's who I am." He started writing in high school and continued at the University of Cincinnati where he wrote his way up to Editor-in-Chief of the school's daily newspaper, the UC Record.Jimmy Dinsmore

Before he became the automotive writer for Cox Media Group he covered health care, business and real estate but not autos, even as a sideline or hobby. And he wasn't a weekend racer or do-it-yourselfer auto mechanic.

That didn't make him flinch from the assignment. He says, "I like to think that writers write. Whatever the subject." The corollary to that is Malcolm Gladwell's advice, "If you want to be a writer, take up accounting. If you want to write, write."

He accepted the fact that he had to learn on the job: listening to the advice of others but sticking with his own style and "taking advantage of every chance I get to educate myself, through reading trades and even textbooks, attending events and mostly just listening to other car people."

Now, his weekly auto reviews are carried in The Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun, Hamilton Journal-News and Middletown Journal, all Cox newspapers in Ohio and recently, the Cox newspaper in Austin, Texas, the Austin American-Statesman. A native of Ohio and resident of Cincinnati, he commutes 50 miles each way to Dayton, providing ample seat time in the cars he reviews.

His first review was the 2011 Ford Taurus and while a fan of many other auto reviewers, he has developed his own style. Now two years into auto journalism he says, ". . . this is my passion, my calling for sure. That much I know."

As for the future of auto journalism, Dinsmore believes, "Those who say that the internet makes auto journalism unnecessary are foolish. All auto writers are content creators – creative minds if you will. That content may be generated on paper with ink, it might be created on the Internet on a blog, or it might be on social media, but it's still valuable content. It's just the method of delivery changes, but not the standards. The Internet can't affect the standards auto reviewers live by.

What do you think?

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regional news

MIDWEST

The success of their first car art exhibit during this year's North American International Auto Show has its promoters, Steve Purdy and Mark Drucker thinking bigger and better for their next Detroit Knows Cars exhibit concurrent with the 2013 NAIAS, Jan. 14- 27. Writing for The Detroit Bureau,Bryan Laviolette Bryan Laviolette reports Purdy and Drucker are hoping to expand the car art show by obtaining sponsorships and cash prizes for participating artists. He says, "...they're envisioning three $5,000 Awards of Excellence, three honorable mentions of $500 each and a People's Choice award for $2,000. Those interested in exhibiting or being a sponsor can contact Purdy at (517) 881-8564 or stevepurdy3@gmail.com  or Drucker at (307) 321-7690 or mark@detroitknowscars.com.

MIDDLE ATLANTIC

IMPA advises it is time to make reservations at the Honor's Haven Resort & Spa, headquarters hotel for this year's Test Days, Sept. 19-20. The toll free number is 877-969-4283. A special room rate of $129.00 also covers all resort fees for IMPA group members. More hotel information is available at: www.honorshaven.com. Test days information and tickets are available at www.impa.org.

WAPA is asking its members to complete an online survey that will help its officers bring WAPA's digital efforts up to speed. They are currently working on updating the WAPA logo and will be retooling the web site to give it a more modern look as well as better functionality. They also plan to improve the association's use of social media.

CALIFORNIA

Pebble Beach is in a class by itself with only Amelia Island rivaling it but the folks behind the Palos Verdes Concours d'Elegance are working hard to climb the ladder of renown. This year a "Pleasure Road Rallye" winds around the PV Peninsula the day before the Concours opens on Sunday, Sept. 16 with 20 competing classes at the Trump National Golf Club. Tickets are on sale now at www.pvconcours.org. For more information, media can contact: Nissen Davis at avroy@aol.com

Concours d'Lemons

Going in the opposite direction is the Tour of LeMons at Monterey Weekend. Participants are invited to bring "the roachiest, weirdest, most entertaining (street-legalish) pile you've got." They'll gather at 10 a.m. August 18 at the Laguna Grand Park, Seaside, Calif. for a free, fun, relaxed, 3-hour drive of the Monterey venues. And, yes, there is a free lunch courtesy of Hagerty Insurance. For more information contact agalbraith@concoursdlemons.com.

SOUTHWEST

When he invited TAWA members to Austin, Texas, for a chance to test drive a Lotus, a PR man may have thought he was getting Lotus off the hook for not making its cars available previously to the state's auto writers. He wrote it was because the British sports car wasn't available in the past with anything other than a manual transmission. That ignited a small brouhaha fueled by the "reply all" option on email menus. Is there an auto writer who admits he or she can't shift manually? Suggestions to the contrary aren't taken kindly nor accepted as a reason for not sending a car to TAWA press test events that make it efficient for writers from across the spacious state to journey to a single location where many cars can be evaluated and compared. After a few chastising RSVP's that took the "reply all route," apologies, both public and private were sent and honor was restored amongst the TAWA membership.

MOUNTAIN STATES

Bruce Hotchkiss' "Spare Parts" blog reports "High Profile Cars of Excellence To Compete in Utah's 2012 Intermountain Concours D'Elegance Event September 22." He quotes concours chairman Chris Purdum, "we are working hard year after year to give this part of the United States an elegant yet friendly concours event to call our own. " It will be held in The Gardens of Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, a few miles south of Salt Lake City on U.S. Route 15. This year's event will honor the late Carroll Shelby by showcasing several of the historically significant cars tied to his legend.

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pit notes

There's only one 24 Hours of LeMons race left to enter and the cut-off for that one, the Chicago Autobahn, Oct. 13-14 , is August 4. . . . . Dick Berggren, longtime NASCAR pit reporter for FOX TV, and Karl Fredrickson, publisher of Speedway Illustrated, will gather together top experts in late model dirt racing for a seminar on Friday Nov. 30 during the PRI Trade Show. There's no charge for the 8 a.m. session titled "Winning Setup Strategies For Dirt Late Models" but attendees must be registered for the PRI show that runs from Nov. 29 to Sept, 1 in Florida's Orange County Convention Center, Orlando. For complete show information check: www.performanceracing.com.

Michael Lamm

For another look at the auto magazine world in addition to that in this issue's Road Ahead and the India link referenced in the Passing Scene, try Michael Lamm's relaxed recollections of some of the editors and publishers he worked with and how Special Interest Autos (now Hemming's Classic Cars) came about: "Cars I've Loved and Hated."  (Photo borrowed from David Traver Adolphus' post.)

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new roads

ChooseControl by AOL Autos + ToyotaGavin O'Malley writes in Online Media Daily, July13, "AOL Autos and Toyota are expected to debut a search tool on Monday designed to help car shoppers find the perfect ride." Dubbed "ChooseControl," the tool tailors searches by consumer interest. For example, telling the system that babies will be on board will yield different search results than if shoppers hope to break the sound barrier. . . . O'Malley also reports in an Around the Net's Top Of The News Blog that Next Issue Media's tablet newsstand is ready for the iPad. The consortium of publishers (Conde Nast, Hearst, News Corp and Time, Inc. will offer unfettered access to 39 titles now and more by the end of the year. A monthly subscription is $10 or $15.00 if you want all the tabloids and other weeklies offered on the digital newsstand.

Road & Travel Magazine has launched its first annual ‘All Vehicle by Category Buyers' Guides issue – Why Now is the Best Time to Buy a New Car!' Publisher/editor-in-chief Courtney Caldwell also advises she has moved her headquarters cross-country to 880 Apollo Street, Ste. 214 El Segundo, Calif. 90245. Telephones: O: 310.322.8000 C: 248.561.5660 F: 248.546.6550 . . . The Auto Channel LLC, in conjunction with WHDT World Television Service, has launched The AutoChannel broadcast television network (TACH-TV). It features television and video programming produced over the years by The Auto Channel, along with select video content produced by independent producers and studios. The Auto Channel, founded by Bob Gordon and Mark Rauch 25 years ago, provides random access to more than one million pages of information to support and amplify the broadcast network content which was seen in South Florida initially and is extending nationally. For more information on the launch click here to watch the video.

The National Auto Sport Association (NASA) has pulled its monthly "Speed News" segment from Grassroots Motorsports Magazine to run their own full length monthly digital news magazine: Speed News. It covers all of NASA's eclectic motorsports world, has live video embedded and is designed to work well for tablet users. The digital magazine is handled by Racer Magazine alum Greg Gill. In concert with the digital mag, GoRacingTV.com is producing a monthly show, also called Speed News, to go along with the magazine. The show is hosted by Jalopnik and Speed:Sport:Life: contributor Rob Krider.

Dave Finkelstin Dave Finkelstein advises: his popular Saturday car talk radio show is now being streamed on Mobile App radio such as I Heart and TuneIn App Radio whose subscribers worldwide number over 35 million. That's in addition to blanketing the Midwest with his St. Louis-based FM signal and pickup on Internet Radio, H-D radio and Podcast.

Maserati has launched its first official app, Maserati Passion US. The free app is intended to allow fans to become more involved with the brand and share their "passion" with others and even the roar of its V8 engine (although AWCOM could not find it) by linking to Maserati Passion US. . . . Yet another new app allows members of Women-Drivers.com to use their smart phones to provide instant feedback on their experience at participating dealers. Dealers strive for a Certified Women Drivers Friendly status and a number of no-cost marketing benefits that go with it. For more information, contact: Anne Fleming at 412-327-2604 or visit www.women-drivers.com.

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lane changes

Dennis SimanaitisROAD & TRACKERS: Persons close to the scene insist that no West Coast staffers will be moved to the title's new Ann Arbor digs. As one source put it, "They're moving the name but not the game." Currently a Road & Track "pensioneer" but planning his own website is long-time engineering editor, Dennis Simanaitis. He expects to roll it out by mid-August. He says the site will be devoted to "cars, old, new and future: science & technology; vintage aeroplanes, flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; and other stuff." He also has some freelance opportunities brewing. Dennis can be emailed at: enged@aol.com.

Mike MagdaMike Magda has been named editor of EngineLabs.com, a new publication from Power Automedia, a digital media company based in Murrieta, Calif. and focused on the enthusiast. EngineLabs.com joins eight other online magazines published by Power and will offer technical expertise, research and the latest news in the performance engine market. Magda has been an editor on four national print magazines and has authored hundreds of auto tech briefings for instructional purposes. He will be joined at EngineLabs.com by veteran Power Automedia senior tech editor Bobby Kimbrough . . . . Sam Smith will join Road & Track as executive editor on July 30, and John Krewson will become a senior editor at the magazine on August 1. Both will be based in Ann Arbor, Mich., where the magazine is being relocated from the West Coast. Smith replaces Patrick Hong, who Hearst Magazines reported, "left the magazine to start a new business.". . . . Automotive News reports Canadian George Young has been named head of Global PR forJil Mcintosh Mazda. The publication interprets the promotion of a non-Japanese to the post as, in part, a move to improve communications with Mazda's customer base outside of Japan. . . . Jil McIntosh has moved from Autos.ca to Sympatico.ca/Autos, where she writes reviews and features. She's still published at several other outlets, including the Toronto Star, and her personal website remains the same: www.WomanOnWheels.ca as does her email address: jil@ca.inter.net.

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across the finish line

 

Scott Bailey - Founded Automobile Quarterly in 1962. The publication survived without advertising and it and he became well-respected sources for accurate automotive history and information.

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- 30-

Glenn Camppbell, Owner, Publisher autowriters.com

Glenn F. Campbell
Publisher
autowriters.com

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CALENDAR
July 2012
31 MAMA: Luncheon: CATA Headquarters, Oakbrook Terrace, IL: Buick
August 2012
6-9 CAR Management Briefing Seminars: Traverse City, MI
15 WAPA: Ford
September 2012
5 APA: Luncheon:  Detroit Athletic Club: Detroit, MI: Kia
15 Concours d'Elegance: Road Rallye: Palos Verdes, CA
16 Concours d'Elegance: Palos Verdes, CA
18 Automotive News Marketing Seminar, NYC, NY
18-20 IMPA:Test Days, Monticello Motor Club, NY
27-28 Paris Motor Show Press Days, Paris, France
27-29 Moscow Int'l Auto Show, Moscow, Russia
29 - Oct. 14 Paris Motor Show Public Days, Paris, France
October 2012
2 MAMA: Fall Rally Manufacturers Dinner, Hoffman Estates, IL
3 MAMA: Fall Rally Driving Event, Hoffman Estates, IL
9-10 MPG: Track Day, Fontana, CA
18-20 TAWA: Truck Rodeo, San Antonio, TX
23 APA/NADA: Luncheon, MGM Grand, Detroit, MI
24 30 APA/Consumer Reports: Luncheon, Detroit, MI

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motoring press organizations

The 17 regional automotive press associations provide information and background not easily found elsewhere. If they are too distant for you to attend their meetings, belonging usually gives you access to transcripts or reports of these events and other benefits.

AARWBA

Logo: AARWBA - Automotive Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association

American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association, Inc.
Norma "Dusty" Brandel
President, Exec. Director
dusty@aarwba.org
www.aarwba.org

APA

Automotive Press Association
Detroit, MI
Joann Muller, President
jmuller@forbes.com
www.autopressassociation.org

ARPA

Logo: Ameican Racing Press Association

American Racing Press Association
Stan Clinton, President
stanclintonarpa@aol.com
americanracingpress.com

IMPA
Logo: IMPA Int'l Motor Press Association

International Motor Press Association
NYC, NY
Mike Spinelli, President
mike@jalopnik.com

www.impa.org

GAAMA
GAAMA: Greater Atlanta Automotive Association

Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association
Atlanta, GA
Davis Adams, President
www.gaama.org

MAMA
Logo: MAMA Midwest Automotive Media Association

Midwest Automotive Media Association
Chicago, IL
Tom Appel, President
www.mamaonline.org

MPG
MPG: Motor Press Guild

Motor Press Guild
Los Angeles, CA
Laura Burstein, President
motorpressguild.org

NEMPA
NEMPA Logo: New England Motor Press Association

New England Motor
Press Association
Boston, MA
Keith Griffin, President
www.nempa.org

NWAPA

Northwest Automotive
Press Association
Portland, OR
Nik Miles, President
nik.j.miles@gmail.com
www.nwapa.org

PAPA

Phoenix Automotive Press Association, Phoenix
Cathy Droz, President
drozadgal@aol.com
phoenixautopress.org

RMAP

Logo: Rocky Mountain Automotive Media Association

Rocky Mountain Automotive Press
Denver, CO
Nathan Adlen, President
www.rmapmedia.com
info@rmapmedia.com

SAMA

Log: Southern Automotive Media Association

Southern Automotive Media Association
Miami FL
Jaimie Flores, President
www.samaonline.org
 

SEAMO

Logo: Southeast Automotive Media Organization

Southeast Automotive Media Organization
Charlotte, NC
southeastautomedia.org

TAWA

TAWA Logo

Texas Auto Writers Association
Mike Herzing
mikeh@automotivereporter.com
www.TexasAutoWriters.org

TWNA

Logo: Truck Writers of North America

Truck Writers of North America
Tom Kelley, Executive Director
tom.kelley@deadlinefactory.com
www.twna.org 

WAJ

Logo: Western Automotvie Journalists

Western Automotive Journalists
San Francisco, CA
David Ray
www.waj.org

WAPA

WAPA Logo

Washington Automotive Press Association
Washington, D.C.
Jessica Anderson, President www.washautopress.org

TOC

automotive journalists

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talk back

CONFESSIONS OF A MAGAZINE JUNKIE

Glenn, your newsletter is getting depressing, but it's not your fault. Richard Truesdell's comments are hardly new and don't even contain a nugget of hope for the automotive press. I write this note as membership chairman of IMPA, where I see applications from more and more non-salaried (i.e. freelance) web journalists, with only a handful that seems to have a really solid editorial income stream. The PR applicants and an occasional staffer are obvious exceptions, of course.

The blame belongs both to the media and the PR people. With an occasional exception, the latter seem all too willing to share materials they once limited to journalists with any blogger who asks or logs on, which dilutes the ability of journalists to provide exclusive information. I spent one drive program with a blogger who wrote his blog for the pure joy, he admitted his viewers were probably a scant bunch, but he still got the same invitation I did and same access to the information. He had a "day job" to pay the bills.

At one time I couldn't believe that experienced journalists would work for wages that wouldn't come close to "paying the rent," and was sure that the leading websites would have to raise their rates. But that doesn't seem to be close to true, as I hear from journalists who trick their copy to juice the number of clicks, thereby increasing their revenue, although still to meager amounts. And then of course, we have the increasing number of non-professionals willing to work for what I'd call the non-economic "benefits."

When I am told that "$500 to $600" is first-rate pay (claimed an article in a link in one of your previous issues), I have to ask how a guy is supporting himself (much less a family) if he gets an assignment (even two) every week from that market or an equivalent. Maybe automotive journalism has become a field for people with "day jobs," recipients of retirement checks from previous jobs and those who are from two-income couples. As the number of paid staffers on the magazines or websites continues to decline to a relative handful (and few of them with more than a low/middle-range paycheck), I have to wonder about the future of our field of endeavor.

I can't claim I have any answers. This is not a personal gripe. I sometimes think I'm working and getting paid in another world.

Paul Weissler
paul_weissler@yahoo.com

# # #

Thanks so much for Richard Truesdell's comments on the shrinking market for automotive writers. I wasn't able to open the expanded article to read beyond the opening paragraphs and references, but the comments struck home.

Expanding on Richard's comment on the impact of publications moving to the Internet: The refusal of many advertisers to follow them, and the subsequent decline of ad revenues means a severe drop-off of cash to pay contributors, both for text and photography. I crossed paths with a very well-known racing photographer at Daytona a year ago; he told me that some of his former clients not only were cutting his fees to a fraction of what they had paid previously, but were demanding that he grant full use of his images without further compensation. End of conversation; he walked away. The shrinkage in the auto publication marketplace also means that there are more journalists and photographers competing for fewer pages and inches. Not a happy situation for any of us.

Cheers!
Peter C. Linsky
Linsky911@comcast.net

# # #

Thanks for this, great edition. As a car guy who thankfully does not earn his living from writing, I, too am VERY concerned about what is happening to journalism in general and the automotive writing profession in particular. (I am trained as a journalist and went to Illinois and Mizzou in print news/editorial.) Richard Truesdell's provocative article has already stimulated some very insightful commentary from your readers.

Bravo and thank you for providing this valuable newsletter.

Gordon Wangers
Email: gwangers@gwangers.com

# # #

KIND WORDS

Dear Glenn,

The Autowriters group on Facebook, officially inspired by your Autowriters, has passed 500 members and has active discussions about the trade. Unlike other groups, Autowriters general only admits people with a portfolio. Exceptions to that rule are a few promising students; editors and publishers; and selected people who might want to hire an autowriter. No spam or promotions are tolerated—we try to keep it serious.

LinkedIn members should be able to find us at Autowriters-85806

Cheers,
Dave
"David B. Traver Adolphus" proscriptus@gmail.com

# # #

Glenn,

Greetings and warmest wishes to you along with gratefulness to find a new issue of your e-newsletter in the "in" box over here. . . . .

I'm confident that there are many, many others in your network who are as pleased to see you back as me - you've developed a one-of-a-kind editorial contribution to the automotive world. Also, on a brief note before closing, the prompt and professional handling of this correction comes off with class.

Of course, even as publication corrections are authentic -- the fact that your news and updates reflect such immediate readership is 'PR' that can't be bought; only earned. Again, great to see you in here, Glenn, and hope you continue to sense the respect we all have for you "out here" in the field.

Thank you and best of continued good health,

Steve
TheCarGuy@TheCarGuy.com  www.TheCarGuy.com

# # #

ALTERMAN CORRECTION

"but it will help us give Road & Track the support and focus it needs to reach its full potential." Ha, ha, ha. Road & Track reached its full potential a long time ago. And then they were bought out by Hachette Filipacchi Media, and after that Hearst."

Bruce Hotchkiss
bruce.hotchkiss@gmail.com

# # #

KIM CUSTER

In response to John Matthius' comments: John: just saw your note regarding Kim in the autowriters' newsletter and felt compelled to drop you a line….earlier this week we actually held a memorial/tribute for Kim at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, CA – and nearly 100 people came to share in his life.

Kim and I worked together for a dozen years when he was the PR director for Mitsubishi Motors and I was his counterpart at the agency that represented Mitsu (before his time at Kia), and I remained personal friends with Kim for the balance of his life… following Kia, he went on to work with MG based out of London and then as director of Communications for AIAM, which is now the Association of Global Automakers. Though he unfortunately faced bouts of depression and anxiety, Kim did not have a "terminal" condition – he spent the last year with family to ease his depression and unfortunately had a heart attack in the end.

Your thoughts for him are most appreciated, but I did want you to know that many friends both globally and domestically, and in and out of the automotive community, took the time and heart to also remember him well – we were lucky to have someone like Kim, because if you read deeper in the tributes on line and that his family received, he deeply touched the lives of many – I personally could probably count on less than one hand the folks in my lifetime that I've brushed paths with, yet have made such an indelible mark.

Yes, good guys like Kim do deserve to be remembered. I appreciate your writing your note in regard to Kim, yet was honestly put off by two separate newsletters that eluded to a condition that Kim never faced, and I'm not sure how to rectify that…. I just know that somewhere, he's looking down quite pleased at those that do remember him well.

Thanks… Deb

Deb Pollack
Partnership/Lifestyle Marketing & PR
deb@debpollack.com

# ##

E BOOK QUERY

ANY (MONETARILY) SUCCESSFUL AUTOMOTIVE E-BOOKS OUT THERE?

Wallace Wyss, a website author and auto history book author out in Ontario, CA asks our readers if any of them can recommend, through personal experience, publishing their books as e-books, through Amazon or other distributors. "I have one book in print now that the publisher said they wanted to do as an E-book but I pointed out e-book authors are generally paid more than 10% because the publisher no longer has to spend money on printing, paper, binding and distribution. The conversation didn't continue much further." So what Wyss wants to know is: Are there any auto writers who have gone to e-books and are raking in the dough? Is it a path worth pursuing? Wyss points out that he is slow to this new high tech world having taken delivery of his first digital camera only last week!

wallace wyss
photojournalistpro@hotmail.com

# # #

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