SUV owners group drives at offering media information

WASHINGTON: The Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America, a grassroots group started in 1999, is in the midst of a major membership push and revamping of its website as it seeks to become a source of pro-SUV information that the media can turn to.

WASHINGTON: The Sport Utility Vehicle Owners of America, a grassroots group started in 1999, is in the midst of a major membership push and revamping of its website as it seeks to become a source of pro-SUV information that the media can turn to.

Late last year, the group hired Stratacomm as its PR agency of record.

Jason Vines, a principal in Stratacomm's Detroit office, has now become president of the association. He initially contacted about 120 journalists around the country, letting them know about the organization.

The group's board of directors has been expanded to include Vines and representatives from groups such as the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association and the Marine Retailers Association of America - organizations whose members are likely to drive SUVs.

Stratacomm plans to relaunch the association's website this month, and seeks to expand membership to 50,000 by the end of this year.

The group, founded by SUV owner Bill Brouse, now has only a few hundred members. Brouse testified in recent congressional hearings about SUV safety.

Vines has already been quoted in media coverage involving two attacks on SUVs in the past year.

"We're just making sure journalists know they have a place to go for comments," he said. Even in the midst of the Iraq war, Vines said he finds five to six stories about SUVs each day.

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