Pit Notes: September 2009

At least one well-established automotive journalist has experienced what he believes are shrinking press fleets. AWCom knows of no comparative figures to access the situation – although shrinking budgets likely affect this activity – along with a believed shrinking regard for journalists, as PR becomes increasingly a subservient marketing function.

For auto journalists seeking fame and fortune by writing a book, TechNewsWorld describes a new software application, Scrivener that reportedly speeds up the writing processes, if not content creation. The developer, would-be novelist Ken Blount, told McNewsWorld “I had chapters and research scattered in documents everywhere, not really organized and if I wanted an overview of my work, I’d have to go back to the documents and summarize what I’d done.” When he couldn’t find a program to keep it altogether, he created Scrivener and sells it through a company he formed, Literature and Latte. John Mello, Jr. reports Scrivener has drawn raves with one established writer saying, “The great strength of Scrivener is that it sees a book as a mosaic of scenes and chapters that you can move around and juggle in very fine detail, or pull back and see the bigger picture of the chapters or the whole book.”

Sue Elliot's "Automotve Custom Interiors"A new book that did it without Scrivener is Automotive Custom Interiors by Sue Elliott. She has painstakingly provided an exhaustive, inspirational and informative mosaic of what can be done to make over a car’s interior to show class quality and how to do it. She’s organized and captioned 388 photos to illustrate nine chapters, each devoted to a specific aspect of custom interiors. Another 100 or so provide glimpses of what can be done with door cranks and handles, pedals, dome lights and other detailing touches that complete the job. A 10th chapter tells how to take an inspiration from idea to reality. To order, go to www.motorbooks.com  . . . And, for an inside look at how Joe Rosen built, campaigned and marketed the Baldwin Motion Camero and other supercars of the 60s, Marty Schorr provides it in MOTION Performance: Tales of a Muscle Car Builder. With a forward by Joe Oldham, it is 176 pages hardbound and has 262 photos. Media reviewers can contact Nicole Schiele at nschiele@motorbooks.com.

For those who can’t get enough, the Porsche Book issued to celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary should do it. Hardcover, it comes in three volumes with slipcase and contains a total of 1500 pages, 2,012 photos and 99 illustrations. It is priced under $300 – $299.95 to be exact. Also celebrating the brand is Porsche 917 X 17 by Jeffery Zwart, forward by Derek Bell. It, too, is hardcover and a more modest 264 pages at $149. 95 It has 190 photographs including studio studies of the car and some of the racecar’s most famous drivers. Both books are available from Bull  Publishing, sales@bullpublishing.com. . . . For those trying to figure out what is happening in the world of mass communications, Advertising Age columnist Bob Garfield has written The Chaos Scenario, a book elaborating on his much-praised and insightful column of a two years go. It is available through Stielstra Publishing.

For those who respond to the word “free” Landspeed Louise Noeth has posted her shots of the recent record setting steam car runs at Edwards Air Force base. But you will have to contract for reproduction rights at Louise Ann Noeth at 805.312.0893 or louise@landspeedproductions.biz. . . . Also in the free to see category is Craig Pike’s posting of photos from Bonneville Speedweeks at myridesisme.com. Organized by car types, they also include salt covered non-racers at the nightly Nugget Casino car show and people shots capturing some of the fun and camaraderie at the event. Direct links to the various categories
include: Roadster Race cars; Doorslammers and Modifieds; Streamliners and Lakesters.

Valuable film from other times and venues are in danger of being lost according to  National Automotive History Collection trustee, Larry Gustin. Because much historical commercial footage is wrapped in money concerns, Gustin urges folks with amateur footage to make it available before it is inadvertently discarded or deteriorates – frustrations the former Buick PR man experienced in trying to enrich the historical archives of the GM Division named for David Dunbar Buick (who knew?). Contact the NAHC or Gustin through: bthompso@detroitpubliclibrary.org

Wooden Horse News (Aug. 2) describes what sounds like a helpful new answer engine that aggregates information from multiple sources to provide answers rather than a list of references: at http://www26.wolframalpha.com  . . . Ever optimistic Doug Stokes is booking press interviews now for his boss,  Gale Banks, at the SEMA Show in November and the PRI show in December. . . . After five years TrueDelta.com has 42,126 members reporting actual experience on 51,647 cars. Publisher Michael Karesh says, “We have a Car Reliability Survey that is 14 months ahead of the “leader.” The Gas Mileage and WNTC Surveys provide information available nowhere else, he says.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Tony Leopardo

    Hi Glenn, Just read your newsletter and i agree with the other journalists that the press car fleet has just about dried up. I also heard on the street that the Nissan and BMW press fleets in the San Francisco area have both been grounded due to a lack of budget.

    It would seem that the car companies would want to put there game face on and have as many press cars going out to as many journalists as possible. Just to keep the flow of automotive reviews going, and not showing that their sweating the small stuff.

    No press cars mean no press car reviews, so how does that help educate buyers to buy more cars in this market? What ever the press car fleets cost, its nickels and dimes compared to any media blitz package bought thru an ad agency. It’s millions of dollars vs thousands of dollars, and the press car fleet probally gets them more direct positive automotive press than any other media they can invest in.

    Never let them see you sweat is an old business axiom, and grounding the press fleets is a bad way to look confident in today’s market.

    Take care, Tony Leopardo – Editor and Publisher – AutoWire.Net

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