Comms additions help Kia showcase its design, tech prowess

Just five years ago, the public viewed Kia as simply a value brand.

Company: Kia Motors America
Team size: Seven
What's new: Kia's in-house team expands as brand perception grows

Just five years ago, the public viewed Kia as simply a value brand. Today, the Irvine, CA-based automaker is transforming into something more - from positioning itself as a contender in the motorsports space to gaining the loyalties of former luxury brand owners, explains Scott McKee, director of PR at Kia Motors America.

"We are now all about European world-class design and a surprising amount of new technology in our cars, as well as safety, quality, and fuel economy," he says. "We are attracting people into our stores that are getting out of Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW to get into Kia cars."

The end of 2011 saw several additions to Kia's communications department. Zeno Group is the automaker's AOR.

McKee, who previous worked on brands including Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin, joined in July 2011 and is responsible for communications involving product launches, media relations, product publicity, and internal communications. He also oversees Kia's second-year racing program. A month prior, Michael Ofiara came on board as PR supervisor to cover automotive enthusiast and trade press.

In December 2011, James Hope, formerly with Volvo Cars of North America, was hired as national manager of product PR. He develops vehicle communication strategy and oversees model introductions, auto shows, media events, and press fleet operations.

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