Blog: Another PR Blunder

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

AUTOEXPRESS and AUTOCAR are the UK’s most important weekly car magazines (apart from Classic Car Weekly, of course), commanding between them a circulation of around 200,000 copies per week. Both have given MG Rover varying levels of editorial support in the last couple of years, but one thing that I am sure of – both publications have writers working for them who desperately want to see the company succeed.

Out of the two, it has to be said that AutoExpress has been the more supportive, offering front page coverage of the 45 and 75 facelifts (where Autocar tended to bury the events somewhere at the base of page three or four). In return, it has enjoyed a good working relationship with MGR; one which saw AutoExpress often getting exclusive first drives of some of the new models. One thing is for sure, there is a lot of goodwill for MG Rover at AutoExpress, and it seemed to be a two way street.

Autocar has been a little more sporadic in its support – once or twice, the magazine’s obvious frustration at the lack of progress at Longbridge has manifested itself on its pages, and although this honesty should be applauded, once or twice, savage (and not always justified) attacks were launched at Longbridge from Teddington.

So you have to say that AutoExpress was MG Rover’s friend.

So the Wednesday news stands had two
weekly car magazines, but only one of
them contained details of MG Rover’s
new cars. In other words, 100,000
readers had been frozen out, and a
massive amount of publicity
was squandered.

Which is why I’m baffled at this week’s coverage of the concept launches. Take a look at this week’s covers, and you’ll see what I mean. Autocar is plastered with MG Rover, whereas the only Rover badged cars on the cover of AutoExpress are those that took place in the Legends feature.

Understandably, this is a great scoop for Autocar, and the magazine’s award ceremony was an inspired choice of venue to reveal the concept cars (many industry big-wigs were there). But news of the launch only began to slip out on Monday afternoon – after AutoExpress had gone to press. In other words, MG Rover had chosen to launch its new concepts without letting its best friend (in magazine terms) into the loop.

So the Wednesday news stands had two weekly car magazines, but only one of them contained details of MG Rover’s new cars. In other words, 100,000 readers had been frozen out, and a massive amount of publicity was squandered. I imagine that a lot of goodwill has probably been lost, as well. It will be interesting to see how much coverage the 75 Coupé and MG GT Concept make it into next week’s AutoExpress – certainly there will be no front page, something that would have been guaranteed had MG Rover sent the pictures into AutoExpress. A bit of a home goal, if you ask me.

Is this a sign that Daniel Ward is moving things in a different direction?

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

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