The Pulse of Automotive Media During the COVID-19 Restart

As automotive companies begin to re-start, we reached out to a few key media editors and friends to get a pulse on what topics they are most interested in covering, who they are most interested in talking to and how we as automotive PR professionals can help them most in the current COVID-19 environment.

Here is what they had to say:

As companies begin to re-start, what topics are you most interested in covering? Are you only interested in COVID / restart news at this time? Are there other areas of interest?

“Anything dealing with COVID-19 and its impact on the auto industry is at the top of the list … and will probably make up 75 to 90 percent of the coverage.  But there is always room for another kind of story.  However it has to be either compelling or very cool … something out of the ordinary.” Jeff Gilbert, auto beat reporter, WWJ Newsradio 950/CBS Radio Network

I’m doing some things that are Covid-19 related but mostly working on longer range projects. I’m doing a big special report on the cockpit of the future for Q4 and I’m also working with my colleagues at TU to recruit presenters for our super event in late August. Now that TU is under the Wards umbrella I’m now a senior analyst that will be doing research projects, special reports, webinars and more writing for the Wards Intelligence subscription website. I’ll still be involved with conference development but the majority of my time will be spent elsewhere after August.–  Drew Winter, senior content director, WardsAuto

On the one hand, we are covering C-19. But I am beginning to think that there is a point at which the attention needs to shift more notably to other things like continued tech development, business strategies, and, yes, vehicles. It isn’t that masks and ventilators are less important but companies are going to be needing to get back to quasi-normal business at some point.”  – Gary Vasilash, editor-in-chief, AutoBeat Group

“As companies begin to re-start, it’s important that we focus again on the business of designing, engineering, manufacturing and selling new vehicles. What is the status of vehicle programs and technologies that were slated for launch in spring ’20? What happens to R&D spending in what likely will be a more austere economy? EVs continue to be driven by regulation, but what about AVs in the immediate post-C-19 environment?” –  Lindsay Brooke, editor-in-chief, Automotive Engineering and Autonomous Vehicle Engineering

Who will you be most interested in talking to?

“Again, I’d be most interested in talking to those who have some insight into the reopening of plants, the transfer of auto production to medical production, what’s happening with sales.  Anybody with an interesting insight is also good.  Maybe even somebody who’s business has actually picked up during this downturn.” Jeff Gilbert, auto beat reporter, WWJ Newsradio 950/CBS Radio Network

“I’m interested in speaking with folks related to new interiors and UX (user experience) trends, connectivity that sort of thing.” – Drew Winter, senior content director, WardsAuto

“Pretty much the people we regularly speak to talk to: execs, engineers and designers.” – Gary Vasilash, editor-in-chief, AutoBeat Group

“We’re most interested in talking to engineering/technology thought leaders, engineering leadership, and program managers within your client base.”Lindsay Brooke, editor-in-chief, Automotive Engineering and Autonomous Vehicle Engineering

How can automotive PR contacts help you most?  

“That hasn’t changed … be responsive, but also be understanding that everything has changed, and a story that would have been interesting two months ago may not be now.  But, that interest could rebound in summer.” Jeff Gilbert, auto beat reporter, WWJ Newsradio 950/CBS Radio Network

“Making connections for us with the aforementioned (execs, engineers and designers) is what we look to you guys for.”Gary Vasilash, editor-in-chief, AutoBeat Group

Anything else you would like to add?

“Finally, most of us are working from home.  The workload hasn’t lessened … it’s shifted.  I haven’t been in the radio station in seven weeks now, and was concerned there could be some slow times.  I haven’t seen them yet. I’m still doing my job.  I can’t do in-person interviews for the time being, but I can record by phone … and can record webcasts.​  I actually think somebody who has a very interesting story, who might have had a press conference before, should try a webcast of some sort.   Not expensive, and it may be something that gets you some traction.   You also have the side benefit of having it recorded … so, if somebody misses it, they can tune in for the replay.” Jeff Gilbert, auto beat reporter, WWJ Newsradio 950/CBS Radio Network

A big question remains is how there will be interaction between the media and company personnel going forward: will it all be predicated on phone calls or digital meetings for the foreseeable future or will there be in-person interactions?”Gary Vasilash, editor-in-chief, AutoBeat Group

Thank you Jeff, Drew, Gary and Lindsay! We appreciate you taking the time out of your busy editorial schedules to answer these important questions.


  1. Posted May 14, 2020 at 3:59 pm by Sean Dowdall

    Thank you for these very timely perspectives. I think the next thing for the auto industry is self-sanitizing cars.

  2. Posted July 15, 2020 at 1:46 pm by David Roznowski

    Great info from these distinguished journalists. Thanks Bianchi PR.

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