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PR & News We Need to Break Up - The Year We Said Goodbye to the News.

Feb 12, 2020
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COVID-19. Just like that, our business, strategy, staffing and more has changed. As someone fairly weathered in the auto industry, a pandemic seems like the natural next step in what seemed like a nice break from tsunamis, recalls, hurricanes and government shutdowns. But the dam has broken again, and like bigger moments in our history, we’re all left to reevaluate.

2008 seemed to be the last advertising tipping point. At the time my memory recalls doorways still littered with plastic bagged newspapers, families clipping double coupons, and kids lining their walls with sports pages. In the auto industry, few dealerships didn’t have their Saturday ad taped to the sales tower wall. “There it is, full-page, double-truck color, boys! It’s going to be a great weekend!” But the economy changed our spending quickly and priorities were set.

To be fair, Americans helped nudge dealers that direction slowly but surely by falling circulation numbers while rates remained high for that 4 color ad with the added value used car liners. Which brings us to today and the trusty local news.

It’s too early to know how the coronavirus will affect the auto industry, but what can be sure, is a week or two in, dealers are already assessing their budget. First, they’re looking at what they can quantify. Second, they’re prioritizing what they know to be a good ROI like customer based tactics and lastly, they’re searching for the dead weight.

My guess is the next dead weight to fall from budgets is the bread and butter of yesteryear, the local news buys. Why? For starters, just as the newspapers were proud of their reputation so too are we finding local news stations dwindling ratings but climbing rates. Most stations would be lucky to attract half the viewership of 6-8 years ago but rates climb year after year.

Dealer choices are more plentiful than ever too. In ’08, the internet pushed the paper aside, but in 2020, it will be OTT/TVE, YouTube, Facebook and the like who offer audience targeting and eliminate the vast amount of waste that traditional media brings.

But here’s the big factor that most are now getting smacked across the face with. As we have a little more time and are tuning in, we’re seeing what’s there. Sure, it’s tough to bludgeon sports and weather with fear and fright, but beyond those staples, it’s tough to find positivity. Ratings are at an all-time high because of a pandemic but is the message climate the right place to motivate for a $30k purchase? Was it any better pre-COVID or will it be post-apocalypse?

My guess is no. Sadly, “if it bleeds, it leads” is being reinforced and there’s no chance to turn back which is why dealers and manufacturers will start to turn their back on attaching their brand to the daily messaging they share, especially with more efficient ways to show the visual message customers desire. It’s happening now, have you adapted?

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