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What do journalists want?
This question is one of the reasons we created our Meet the Media blog. Now our most popular series, we pose questions to key automotive and mobility beat journalists to help PR folks like you better understand their needs.
In this post, we highlight some of the top mobility trends of interest to reporters, as identified in gathering our 100+ Meet the Media profiles. Hopefully, this insight will help spark a new story idea or ignite a productive brainstorming session.
So, straight from some of the top U.S. automotive and mobility beat journalists themselves, here are five mobility trends to help inspire your next media outreach:
1 – The COVID-19 Pandemic
No surprise here … it’s affecting not only automotive and mobility, but every facet of business and life. But as the pandemic continues, the direction of the stories is evolving. Reporters are no longer focused on COVID for COVID’s sake, as they were in the first months of the pandemic when COVID dominated any other news.
Within the automotive beat, yes, the reporters are still covering how COVID-19 is affecting production, investment and new product introductions. But they are also moving more toward normalcy and are increasingly focusing on products, technologies, trends, business strategies and what lies ahead.
Good news: these are all good opportunities for auto supplier stories.
Consider this comment from Kalea Hall of The Detroit News: “The last six months have been all about the COVID-19 pandemic and how it’s affecting the industry. We will continue to cover that, but we are starting to write about how Detroit automakers are moving forward. Ford Motor Co. just unveiled the new Ford F-150 and the Bronco, which the automaker brought back from the dead to much fanfare. GM is bringing back the Hummer in an electric form and will debut it later this year. The automaker recently showcased its Cadillac Lyriq, an electric crossover that will hit showrooms in late 2022. There’s a lot of new product coming to get excited about right now. The industry is going through major changes with electrification, autonomy and connectivity. It’s a very exciting, yet challenging time for the automakers. Everyone should be watching.”
2 – Autonomous Vehicles
Fast-paced autonomous and connected car technology innovations are moving at the speed of light. For topic inspiration, consider these comments from Kirsten Korosec of TechCrunch, “While I’m particularly interested in the future of transportation topics like autonomous vehicle technology and eVTOLS (flying cars), these all fall under a broader interest I have in cities. Specifically, I’m interested in how the combination of technology, economics, policy and design within cities can work for or against its citizens.”
These trends are also on the radar of business-oriented publications, such as Forbes. According to Alan Ohnsman, “I’m also broadly tracking the development of autonomous vehicle technology which, despite being on a somewhat slower path than projected for applications like robotaxi services, keeps advancing.”
3 – Electrification and Mobility
Even during the pandemic, electrification and mobility continue to be hot trends. According to Jim Irwin of WardsAuto.com, “Lately I have been editing stories for our Wards Intelligence website regarding electrification and mobility. It’s interesting to see OEMs and the Tier 1s devoting so many resources to electrification in the face of consumer indifference. Mobility, meanwhile, is evolving under the influence of COVID-19, which is redefining our relationship to the various ways we get around. For example, ride-hailing and ride-sharing seem to be falling out of favor because of health concerns, while interest in private vehicle ownership is holding its own if not growing.”
Even cross-industry trade publications, such as Design News, are focusing on electrification and new methods of mobility.
When asked about the types of stories, trends or issues that are on currently his radar, Dan Carney offered the following: “Electric drive technology, combustion engine innovations, sensors for driver assistance systems and the pursuit of autonomous capabilities are probably some of the bigger items, along with interesting projects that engineers are developing for their companies.”
4 – Technology Trends and New Design Innovations
Dan Roth of Wheel Bearings encourages us to keep those technology and design innovations top of mind when working to identify pitching topics, “I’m interested in the intersection of technology, especially mobile-powered technology, automobiles, and business. That’s just about everything under the sun, from mobility companies to the features in your brand new car. We tend to be wowed by anything with a screen, but there’s a lot of very high tech stuff going on with materials, metal-bending, and what you might call “old-line” engineering. It also seems as if everyone has forgotten all about good design for human factors.”
Deborah Lockridge of Heavy Duty Trucking discusses how technology is also trending in the trucking industry, “The big thing right now in trucking and logistics is technology, whether it’s the path to autonomous trucks, electric vehicles, or using machine learning and artificial intelligence to predict when parts will fail or the right price for shipping a load from Point A to Point B. But at the same time, our readers still want evergreen, back-to-basics how-to stories on how to manage their businesses and their fleets profitably, safely, and efficiently.”
Matt Jaster from Gear Technology & Power Transmission Engineering also cites emerging tech as a top trend, “Emerging technologies such as additive manufacturing, IIoT, automation and robotics as it pertains to gear manufacturing and mechanical power transmission. Our editorial staff enjoys looking at the latest gadgets and gizmos in manufacturing and seeing how this technology can be applied to our readers.”
5 – Green Tech
With consumer concerns for the ecology growing, government environmental regulations increasing, major corporations pushing for greater sustainability and corporate social responsibility, and consumer pressure around the world continuing to grow, green technology has become a key trend for the journalists we work with.
This isn’t surprising given a number of new mobility technologies provide environmental benefits. Check out the comments below before pitching your next green technology.
Green tech is a passion for Mike Millikin of Green Car Congress, “Because GCC’s editorial remit is broad (“green”), everything covered has to do with the technology, policy, regulatory and business changes roiling the automotive industry–the major large fast movers on the radar screen. We try to skew to the technical, so stories about battery chemistries, alloys, fuel chemistries, new motors, engines, combustion schemes, etc. are always hot. I am particularly interested in tracking lifecycle analysis, and deliberate prime mover/fuel developments — such as the DOE’s Co-Optima initiative.”
Freelance journalist John Voelcker shares a similar interest in green tech trends. When asked what type of stories, trends or issues are on his radar, he responded: “Three broad areas: (1) Battery-electric and plug-in hybrid cars, and the charging networks that power them; (2) cleaner energy and the evolving electric-utility and grid systems that distribute it; and (3) more broadly, climate change and the large-scale decarbonization of every part of our lives that will be required to stem its worst effects over our lifetimes.”
Pandemic or not, it’s an exciting time in the mobility world.
Former auto reporter at The Detroit NewsMike Martinez, who’s now with Automotive News, sums up it nicely, “It’s fascinating having a front row seat to see an industry change so drastically. Whether its learning about lasers, sensors and cameras that allow the car to drive for you, or the apps and software that can connect your phone, home and vehicle together to coordinate schedules, contacts, favorite destinations, etc., it’s thrilling to think about what the average driving experience will be like 5 or 10 years from now. Whether it’s the technology, legislation, customer acceptance, infrastructure, ethics or other factors surrounding driverless cars, there’s plenty to write about.”
You might also be interested in: What Do Journalists Want? Part 1: Five Elements of a Good Story
To see our portfolio of Meet the Media profiles, click here.
Author: Adriana Van Duyn
Adriana is an account supervisor at Bianchi PR with 16 years of B2B PR experience representing clients across multiple industries.