DETROIT: The Internet sites of auto manufacturers do not have to be a PR wasteland.
DETROIT: The Internet sites of auto manufacturers do not have to be
a PR wasteland.
That was the key finding of two new surveys that took an in-depth look
at the way Web PR is evolving within the automotive sector. The studies
were conducted by Eisbrenner Public Relations and Kettering University,
both located in Michigan.
Companies hoping to maximize the PR effectiveness of their web sites
need follow one rule: simplify. In both surveys, the sites judged most
effective were those that provide ease of access for journalists and
attractive visuals for consumers.
’On the Internet, it is style over substance,’ said Eisbrenner VP Tom
Eisbrenner. ’Product information doesn’t drive the success of a web
The Eisbrenner study of the Web presence of 41 automakers found that
information-packed but dull-looking sites pale beside those with snappy
visuals and pertinent information. ’A web site shouldn’t be a brochure
online,’ Eisbrenner said.
His firm’s survey, compiled with help from testing firm Automotive
Consultants, asked roughly 300 Southern California consumers to rate
four auto sites.
BMW’s site came out on top, followed by Volvo, Toyota, Mercedes and
Among the qualities users were instructed to look for were
functionality, effectiveness, product features and pricing
The Kettering study was slanted more towards determining what
journalists like and dislike on the Web. David Strubler, an associate
professor of organizational behavior at the university, said that what
most provokes a journalist’s ire is having to obtain passwords in order
to access auto media sites.
At the behest of DaimlerChrysler, Strubler’s students sent out surveys
to more than 700 auto writers last November. While only 43 responded,
their message was very clear: get rid of the passwords or make them very
easy to get. Strubler added that journalists are also concerned about
site download speed, making sure that information is up-to-date and
finding country-specific information for global automakers.
The Kettering study also asked 30 students about auto sites and found
they desired more video elements - something journalists apparently
didn’t want because of concern about loading times.