NEWS: Skoda gears up for in-house PR

Skoda, the Czech car company, is to bring its PR in-house signalling the end of its two-year estimated pounds 400,000-budget contract with Countrywide Porter Novelli.

Skoda, the Czech car company, is to bring its PR in-house signalling the

end of its two-year estimated pounds 400,000-budget contract with

Countrywide Porter Novelli.



The decision to end the contract at Christmas has left Countrywide free

to take on a contract from Renault to launch its new car, the Megane

Scenic.



Countrywide won the business after taking part in a four-way pitch. Its

brief is to target 25 to 45-year-old men and women via the lifestyle

media and regional press.



Renault is hoping that the Scenic, which launches in February, will be

the second best seller in its Megane range.



Skoda public relations manager Eilish O’Shea, who has been managing the

motoring media, said the decision to move its PR in-house was

unconnected to Countrywide’s Renault win.



The agency was appointed by Skoda in March last year as part of a huge

marketing effort to rid the car of its low-status image.



It won a PRCA award this year for the campaign, which involved getting

coverage on media as diverse as Blind Date, The Big Breakfast and BBC

Business Breakfast.



‘We have achieved a tremendous change in public perception through both

the consumer and motoring press, but 1997 is going to be a year of

consolidation for the brand,’ said O’Shea on the end of its relationship

with Countrywide.



‘We will focus on the product but broaden it to include consumer press

when appropriate,’ she said.



‘It takes many years to change a brand’s image,’ she commented on

Skoda’s reputation, ‘but we are firmly on the way.’



The much derided car firm has an in-house team of four communications

staff.



Eilish said that from January the communications division may use

agencies on a project basis for additional consumer help but is more

likely to employ temporary freelance staff.



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