5 Ways to Tell If Your Tech PR Agency Really has Automotive Expertise

AutonomousTech companies are rushing into the automotive sector to sell their technologies and software, as global automakers are investing billions of dollars in the development of electrified, connected, autonomous and shared vehicles.

For autonomous vehicles alone, hundreds of tech companies – who are involved in areas such as radar, LiDAR, artificial neural networks, image recognition, short-range communication, V2X communication, RFID, eye-tracking, navigation, computer vision and sensor fusion – have entered the increasingly crowded and confusing automotive tech fray.

When you add the companies who can contribute to the development of connected cars, auto cybersecurity, vehicle electrification and ride- and car-sharing platforms, the ecosystem gets even more crowded and confusing.

While these new tech companies strive to partner up with the right automakers or tier-one automotive suppliers who are driving automated driving technologies – including automated driving assistance systems (ADAS), lane departure warning, automated parking, collision avoidance, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise, blind spot monitoring and intelligent speed adaptation systems – they are having increasing trouble setting themselves apart from the ever-growing multitude of fierce competitors in the automotive space.

One reason they may not be effective differentiating themselves within the insular automotive industry could be that they are using the wrong PR partners.

Using a PR firm that knows tech to try to reach the auto industry is like asking an eye doctor to perform foot surgery. The specialized knowledge and experience that is needed to be successful in one sector is not necessarily transferrable to the other.

Make no mistake about it: The automotive and high-tech sectors are very different – with different media; different goals and needs; different cultures; different drivers, trends and issues; different paces and rhythms, and different languages.

It only makes sense that the PR firms that serve each of these markets well are just as different.

So how does a tech company tell if their PR agency has the automotive expertise needed to position its company in the automotive space?

1. Does your tech PR firm’s staff have years’ of automotive supply chain experience and understand the automotive industry’s key drivers, issues and trends, that can help them to identify, create and capitalize on the right opportunities for your story?

An effective automotive PR firm will have a seasoned, experienced staff of senior professionals with 15+ years of experience working with multiple automotive suppliers and technology providers.

2. Do they have long-term, proven working relationships with the key local, industry, business and automotive trade media that cover the North American automotive industry – the media that your potential customers follow? Do the people who work your account have equity with those reporters, so that the media will actually return their calls and emails, respond to their pitches and actually seek them out when they need information or a speaker for a conference?

An effective automotive PR firm will know not only all the key media outlets that are important to your customers and prospects, but also the individual reporters, their beats and their needs.

3. Do they regularly attend most of the major automotive conferences, trade shows and events to keep their finger on the auto industry’s pulse, enhance connections with media and industry thought leaders, and uncover new angles, coverage and sponsorship opportunities for your company?

The top automotive PR firms spend 40-50 days per year attending and participating in key events, such as the North American International Auto Show, the SAE WCX and the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars, to name just a few.

4. Do they frequently and personally interact with the reporters who are covering the North American automotive beat, by participating as members of the Automotive Press Association and having regular conversations and meetings with the top automotive media in the industry?

If they aren’t located in Detroit, the North American nexus and intellectual crossroads of the automotive industry … and they aren’t on the ground in Motown communicating face-to-face with the reporters there covering the auto industry – not only key trade media but also bureau staff from Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bloomberg, Reuters, Axios and other national and international news outlets – they are likely missing opportunities.

5. Are they recommended by the right auto beat reporters and automotive trade publication editors?

If they’re not recommended by top auto trade journalists like Lindsay Brooke at Automotive Engineering, Gary Vasilash at Automotive Design & Production, Lindsay Chappell at Automotive News or Drew Winter at WardsAuto, that can be a major red flag.

If the answer to one or more of the above questions is “no”, perhaps it’s time to find a new PR firm partner to make inroads into automotive … one that has the experience, expertise and existing relationships to help your tech company make its mark in the automotive OEM sector, effectively and efficiently.

You might also be interested in:
5 Reasons Your Tech Company May Need an Automotive PR Firm 
How to Find the Best Automotive PR Firm for Your Company

To learn more about how a specialized Detroit automotive PR firm with global reach might help your tech company to grow awareness in the OEM automotive sector, contact Jim Bianchi at or call 248.269.1122.

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