Meet the Media: Nicole Wakelin, Freelance Automotive Journalist

I’m a freelance automotive journalist with a focus on new vehicles, technology and how the two come together to create the cars we love to drive. I contribute reviews and news pieces to a wide range of publications including The Boston Globe, Autobytel, and CarExpert and am always looking for new opportunities. I also speak to all things automotive at conferences and as co-host of the Wheel Bearings podcast.

Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?

I’m intrigued by how automakers are trying to make new vehicle technologies relatable to the average new car buyer. Whether it’s the increased connectivity of an infotainment system or advanced safety features, not everyone sees the benefits of these things or fully understands how they work. I like writing about these new features and making them relatable and understandable, so people are excited when they seem them in their cars rather than put off.

Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.

The most fun stories I’ve written are the ones that showcase how cars fit into real life, because those let you have a little fun. Nissan ran a fantastic drive of the Rogue that took us from Atlanta, Georgia to New York City with plenty of surprises along the way. It ran over the course of several days, just me and a drive partner, so it really let me showcase how that car worked for us in real life. A road trip, with all the unexpected, the fun, the crazy, the stress, the weird things you find out about a car that you love or hate – those create the best, most interesting stories.

What story or stories are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the stories that let car buyers see the value of the features automakers pack into today’s cars. It’s one thing to tell someone that there’s a bird’s eye camera, but another to tell them that camera lets you see your kid’s bike sitting on the ground behind your car so you don’t flatten it when you back out of the driveway. I like the stories that help people understand what all those features do so people can spend their money on the things that will make driving their cars a better experience.

What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?

I want stories that are relatable. Sure, it’s cool to sling a car around a track at ridiculous speeds, but how many people are going to do that? I want a story that makes sense to the consumer, that shows them how their minivan is going to make the crazy of family life easier or how the four-wheel-drive on their SUV is going to help them make the most out of off-roading. I want a story that lets me relate a car to the consumer who might buy it.

How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?

I’ve been covering cars for about a decade, but started out writing about pop culture, because I’m a nerd. You want to argue about the best Star Trek captain, bring it. That morphed into writing about cars when one of the outlets I wrote for received an invite to a drive program and no one wanted to go. I love cars, so I jumped on the opportunity and have been happily writing about cars ever since.

Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …

If I am not reporting, I am…. driving around looking for good coffee. I search out local coffee shops in every town I visit and always bring home a bag or two to enjoy later.

What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?

Pitch anything even remotely automotive. I’m pretty open to things that are outside the norm, so if you’re not sure it’s really in my wheelhouse or if I’ll be willing to try something a little crazy, pitch it anyway.

Any pet peeves with PR people?

I cover automotive, yet I get an astounding number of pitches for baby products. I’m a mom but that’s not what I write about and it irks me something fierce when people send me mom stuff just because I’m a women.

Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, some fact about you that few people know, etc.)

I already mentioned I’m a nerd, so I often have my nose in a book and it’s probably something sci-fi or urban fantasy. I also love to bake. Don’t ask me to cook, but if you want croissants from scratch, a good loaf of sourdough, or the best popovers ever, I can deliver. I am married to my high school sweetheart and we have two girls. My oldest is in college studying software engineering and my youngest if finishing high school. I love getting their opinions of the cars I drive, because after all the cars they’ve experienced because of my work, they have plenty to say.

I’m active on social media where you can find me on Twitter and Instagram. You can also check out my site to see what I’m up to and give me a listen on the Wheel Bearings podcast.

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