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The Guild is working with automotive PR contacts to gather the industry’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Here, we bring you the latest decisions on model launches, plus new policies in place for press car loans.

We are also asking PR colleagues what other plans they have to help mitigate the impact of coronavirus on motoring journalists.

“Things are changing day by day,” Scott Brownlee, head of PR at Toyota GB warned us, “so any detailed list of events will have a short shelf life.”

We will list the responses, by company, as we get them – along with any revised policies and news updates. Keep checking back for the latest updates.

 

VOLKSWAGEN GROUP (AUDI, SEAT, SKODA, VW)

Volkswagen head of PR Mike Orford advises there will further communications this week about upcoming launches include the SEAT Leon and Volkswagen Golf. There will also be more on Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle plans for the CV Show.  

“We are planning to maintain vehicle deliveries, but we don’t yet know how our delivery partner [DHL] will be impacted in terms of drivers and prepared cars. We ask journalists to be patient as we work through any possible restrictions.

“It’s also possible that company intranet systems could be strained by so many now working remotely. We will still receive and respond to emails, but these may be delayed due to our limited system access.

“The most reliable way to get in touch with us is mobile and SMS, and we’ll be redistributing our contact details later this week.”  

 

GROUPE PSA (CITROEN, DS, PEUGEOT, VAUXHALL)

Which media events and product launches have been impacted by coronavirus?

All.  We ceased international launches last week. As of the Government’s change of advice yesterday, we are in the process of cancelling UK launch events

What are your alternative plans for these, if any?

We still want the coverage so will work with media to achieve this as much as possible

What other coronavirus-related measures do you have in place that may impact motoring journalists?

It may come that our logistics team are unable to work to our normal capacity. If this happens, we will prioritise media loans

How are you managing the spread of coronavirus with any press fleet loans?

On the delivery pre call/text, we confirm that the journalist is not in self isolation or has recently travelled to/from an affected area.

On arrival explain that due to the  virus it would inappropriate to shake hands.

On delivery:

– Wipe the steering wheel, gear knob, door handles etc with antibacterial wipes when exiting the car

– Use hand sanitiser before entry and on exit

– Ensure all model delivery vehicles are cleaned with anti-bacterial wipes pre/post usage

– If protective seat covers are provided, remove in front of the customers on delivery

– Enhanced cleaning on return

Are you working on any other plans to provide opportunities to under-pressure journalists who have lost work due to coronavirus?

As I say above, we still want the coverage so are prioritising our loans to achieve this

Do you have any other comments or observations you think would be useful?

The brand PR teams are working as normal and can help remotely with ideas, resources, interviews, images, reference materials etc. We all have mobiles and email contact and will do everything to facilitate enquiries.

 

HONDA

Which media events and product launches have been impacted by coronavirus?

Jazz launch slated for April has been cancelled

What are your alternative plans for these, if any?

We will be holding a UK launch instead

What other coronavirus-related measures do you have in place that may impact motoring journalists?

By holding a UK launch we can actually get more journalists on to the launch and into the car

How are you managing the spread of coronavirus with any press fleet loans? 

Cars are always cleaned before and after loans. Press workshop techs are sanitising all surfaces in the cars that drivers come in to contact with. Drivers are supplied with hand sanitiser.

Are you working on any other plans to provide opportunities to under-pressure journalists who have lost work due to coronavirus? 

As above, the Jazz UK launch will be to a wider audience.

 

HYUNDAI

In a statement, the Hyundai UK press office has advised it is now working remotely. “All the team can be contacted as normal on their email addresses or mobile phones.  We understand your needs for content and are happy to discuss how we can support any ideas that you might have during this period.

At the moment, Press Vehicle deliveries and collections will continue to operate as normal and all measures have been taken to minimise the risk of infection through the deep cleaning of vehicles in between each loan. 

“Antibacterial wipes will also be provided in vehicles. The delivery drivers are briefed not to shake hands on delivery and to ensure that hands are washed regularly. 

“We will continue to monitor the situation though and will update you all should anything change.

“Should you have one of our vehicles on loan and are made aware of any risk to either yourself, immediate family or work colleagues please notify a member of the press office as soon as possible.” Motoring journalists are also advised to get in touch if they wish to cancel a booking.

 

KIA

Which media events and product launches have been impacted by coronavirus?

Geneva Motor Show cancelled – Sorento unveil rescheduled as a Facebook live-stream this week

We will be holding a UK launch instead

Currently no other product introduction disruption – Soul EV went ahead.

What other coronavirus-related measures do you have in place that may impact motoring journalists?

We are looking at how we provide opportunities for up-coming product such as the PHEV versions of Ceed SW and XCeed – this is yet to be finalised.

How are you managing the spread of coronavirus with any press fleet loans? 

You will have seen our not-for-publication release concerning press test loan vehicles. We are taking steps to provide best possible protection for our Press Garage and delivery staff along with providing the vehicle requested by media in the best possible condition to avoid infection. We have advised that we may need to re-schedule some test vehicle delivery/collection timings so our delivery people can avoid public transport exposure risks – if we can we will “piggy-back” our people and that might mean changing delivery/collection by a day in some cases.

Are you working on any other plans to provide opportunities to under-pressure journalists who have lost work due to coronavirus? 

Currently our business-critical focus is ensuring safety and security for our dealers and our customers whilst seeking to avoid disruption to supply channels – we are applying hygiene processes to showrooms, service reception areas and customer meetings and handovers so we can operate as close to normal as possible. That means, I am afraid, our service to media friends may not be at the top of the priority list right now, but we will seek to ensure our service does not suffer and that where appropriate we will continue to give our media friends every opportunity.

Do you have any other comments or observations you think would be useful? 

As has been said in many quarters, we must all seek to understand each other’s challenges, work together and pull together during this period.

 

MERCEDES-BENZ

“These are unprecedented times we’re living in,” says press officer Rachel Goodwin. “In terms of where we are with launches and the press fleet, we’ve had to postpone all upcoming launches and events for the foreseeable future. We are of course monitoring the situation daily so we’ll hope to reschedule any postponed events as soon as we can.

 “Regarding the press fleet, at the moment we’re running as normal – however, we may have to reduce the number of overall bookings depending on the availability of staff in our workshop.

 “We’re always happy to help where we can, so please do let Guild members know to get in touch.”

 

NISSAN

“The situation with COVID-19 is changing at a rapid rate and we continue to prioritise the safety and well-being of our employees” says Nissan product and corporate media relations manager Terry Steeden. “Following on from recent UK Government guidelines, we will make the appropriate decisions, at the appropriate time, to ensure that this will continue.

“We have had to cancel several international media events which were planned to take place over the coming weeks; the relevant media has been informed. If these activities cannot be rescheduled, then we are looking at alternative digital events / communication processes to continue the media news streams

“Press car loans are continuing at present, but we are in constant dialogue with our supplier AutoXP to monitor the situation.

“On top of this we are looking at alternative stories for media to use.”

 

SUZUKI

"We are still delivering press cars at this time," says Suzuki head of PR Alun Parry. "However, it may mean we’re unable to work to our normal capacity.  We have moved to a double driver system so our drivers do not need to use public transport getting to or from delivery / collection. We’re also ensuring that press car surfaces are sanitised as well as our drivers being supplied with hand sanitiser.

"We do ask you to let us know as soon as possible if you or any of your immediate family or work colleagues become infected, as we need to minimise risk to ensure yourselves and our staff are as safe and protected as possible."

Which media events and product launches have been impacted by coronavirus?

– Suzuki Hybrid Technology event 23-27th March 2020

– Suzuki Ignis Facelift event – planned for May 2020 (invitations had not been sent)

What are your alternative plans for these, if any?

Slightly earlier access to test cars, although with a reduced service inline with current circumstances. This will be monitored regularly for any possible further Government restrictions on non-emergency movement. 

What other coronavirus-related measures do you have in place that may impact motoring journalists?

The Suzuki Press Office will be working remotely in the current circumstances. Test cars will be prepared for evaluation in-house in our usual way, handed over and collected with minimal contact and arranged with a journalist in advance on an individual basis.

How are you managing the spread of coronavirus with any press fleet loans? 

Full sanitisation at vehicle valet followed by full sanitisation at delivery of vehicle exterior / interior touch points including dashboard screens.

Are you working on any other plans to provide opportunities to under-pressure journalists who have lost work due to coronavirus? 

– Early issue of all Hybrid Technology media information to assist journalists with content for their outlets although we of course fully understand that driving impressions are key.

– Issue of Ignis Hybrid technology media information in April 2020 with test vehicles available in May 2020.

– Full support to all automotive media wherever possible.

Do you have any other comments or observations you think would be useful? 

The Suzuki Press Office will continue to offer the best service it can to all our media colleagues under the current circumstances.

 

TOYOTA

Which media events and product launches have been impacted by coronavirus?

Short answer is all. New model launches and media events which involved foreign travel are cancelled or postponed. 

What are your alternative plans for these, if any?

Varies. Some were for models not due to be released in UK for several months. Two options are rescheduled international events and doing UK events when RHD cars are available. Guests will be notified individually.

What other coronavirus-related measures do you have in place that may impact motoring journalists?

None that should impact media. We continue to issue releases, distribute press cars and handle enquires. 

How are you managing the spread of coronavirus with any press fleet loans? 

Cars are thoroughly cleaned (we’ve even found a cleaner which doesn't harm leather with frequent use) and we have moved to a double driver system so our drivers do not need to use public transport getting to or from delivery/collection points. 

Are you working on any other plans to provide opportunities to under-pressure journalists who have lost work due to coronavirus? 

Yes, but too early to give details.

Do you have any other comments or observations you think would be useful?

Stay calm, stay safe and see you all when this is over.

 

FCA (ABARTH, ALFA ROMEO, FIAT)

Response is being collated. “We are working with HQ to arrange video unveils and interviews as opposed to media drives abroad, but the real challenge in the coming weeks will be sourcing new models for press loans here in UK.”

 

 

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