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Unprecedented change. That’s what the North American auto supply chain faces today. Major trends are turning the world of automotive suppliers upside down, and disrupting business:
• Autonomous vehicles – introducing hundreds of new tech companies who are vying for attention in the supply chain, and requiring major suppliers to make huge investments and place bets on future technologies and partners;
• Electrification – threatening to dramatically reduce market share for internal combustion engines (ICEs), and shrinking future sales for 75 percent of the top 100 auto suppliers whose portfolios are dependent upon ICEs;
• Connected vehicles – attracting even more new technology players, who speak a different language and operate differently than the auto sector, into the supply chain;
• Ride/Vehicle sharing – creating havoc throughout the supply chain, with the potential to boost vehicle utilization while perhaps reducing vehicle production volumes significantly;
• Talent wars – as the automotive product mix changes, auto suppliers face even stiffer competition with other suppliers, automakers and tech companies for the right talent – especially the software engineers and developers needed to develop the emerging autonomous, electrified and connected systems that could enable future success; and
• Investor pressure – is leading traditional major suppliers to break up into two (or more) entities – one focused on old traditional and mature mechanical components, the other(s) concentrating on future technologies and software.
There is no question, for automotive suppliers, it is not business as usual.
A strong PR program is more important to this embattled group of companies than it has ever been … because it has never been more challenging to win in the automotive supply chain. PR is a key component of an effective change management program.
Why do traditional auto suppliers — and the new mobility technology providers entering the sector – need more robust PR programs?
Here are just a few reasons:
• To explain to customers, investors, employees and recruits how the company is re-inventing itself or its strategy to meet these disruptive trends;
• To reposition the company in the minds of investors, customers and employees relative to new products and services;
• To introduce new company leadership and vision as the company evolves to meet the new and emerging market needs;
• To communicate the new focus, strengths and path forward for the new companies as they are created by spin-offs, divestitures and roll-ups;
• To underscore the partnerships the company has made with the right technology partners and to emphasize its newly created capability to capture new profit streams;
• To introduce new mobility technology entrants – especially whose technologies support the move to autonomous and electrified vehicles – such as cameras, lidar, radar, sensors, software, chargers, electronic control systems and batteries – to the automotive supply chain;
• To help in recruiting the right talent by positioning the company as an employer of choice amidst a sea of look-alike suppliers;
• To differentiate the company and communicate the unique benefits and features of the company’s new products and technologies to customers, partners and influencers; and
• To help the auto industry educate consumers on the benefits (such as safety, reduced CO2 emissions, reduced cost, improved efficiency, etc.), use, capabilities and limitations of new ADAS, autonomous, electric vehicle and data management systems.
Time for a Change
It’s no secret that, traditionally, OEM automotive suppliers have not invested as heavily in PR as other B2B sectors … perhaps because they felt they did not need to.
But that approach does not work in the new volatile auto ecosystem.
Today, auto suppliers are at war … a war for attention, trust and survival.
They face threats from new overseas competitors, new tech entrants into the sector, lower production volumes, and rapidly shifting customer needs. Their very future depends on how well they fight that battle.
They’ll need PR partners that understand the automotive industry … know its media, events, influencers, trends and issues … and have proven experience helping suppliers to tell their story through traditional and digital media relations, content marketing, sponsorships, thought leadership and speaking programs, social media, internal communications, and other tools and techniques.
More than ever, auto suppliers and mobility tech providers need to step up their PR game, sharpen their image, and rebrand and reinvent themselves … or they risk becoming roadkill on the new mobility highway.
Picking the right PR agency partner can be the best first step.
To see if we might be that partner for you, email Jim Bianchi at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 248.269.1122 for an exploratory discussion.
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