Driving Through Disruption: The Role of PR in Automotive Transformation

by | 30 Apr 2024 | Insights

Striking a balance between continuity and innovation, auto brands must stand out in this world with a PR partner that understands the market.

It’s fair to say there aren’t many industries that have had to contend with quite as much disruption over the past 20 years as the automotive sector. The wheels on the bus still go round, but little else has stayed the same.

The great automotive revolution has been driven by technological advances, of course, but also sustainability, emerging markets, as well as new players like Tesla and BYD which have soared to market dominance in barely a decade. This unprecedented flux has not just changed the vehicles we buy; it has transformed the way we think about personal mobility.

For automotive and mobility brands, the challenges of this new world are myriad. While some elements of the ‘traditional’ business model remain – designing, manufacturing, selling and servicing vehicles – brands must also embrace sustainability, keep up with changing market demands, and compete at the sharp end of technology.

Against this backdrop, car companies must also find new and innovative ways to capture the attention of their target audience, maintain and build their brand awareness, and ultimately gain a competitive advantage. For this, brands turn to another industry that’s been turned on its head by technology – communications.

Here, the role of comms is to make sense of the two worlds that have converged to form the new mobility landscape – automotive and tech. As that landscape continues to shape-shift and evolve, it is more important than ever that brands embrace the versatility, flexibility, and unrivalled know-how of automotive PR.

PR agencies have always been integral to the success of auto and mobility brands. PR is renowned for its wide-ranging skillset – from the nuts and bolts of strategy, branding and execution to core services like media relations, content creation and persona development, and, of course, indispensable digital tools including influencer marketing, SEO, and social media.

Local expertise – the PR difference

While these services are universal in the world of communications, it is the PR agency’s local market expertise and understanding that makes the difference. As we’ve said, the automotive market is complex and increasingly overlapping, so the development of automotive PR strategies needs to reflect the specific players and target audiences involved.

Here in Ireland, those groups include journalists and the media – no longer simply ‘motoring’ media but lifestyle, tech, fashion, sustainability, and much more – as well as decision makers, shareholders, lobby interests, etc.

Understanding these target groups and knowing the best ways to connect with them comes down to experience. A seasoned PR agency with in-depth knowledge of the local auto/mobility landscape can create powerful, integrated strategies that play on emotion and technology – the yin and yang of contemporary automotive storytelling.

In this way, partnering with an experienced PR agency that has a track record of building brand awareness and reputation can give auto brands a competitive edge. The best agencies create exciting, thought-provoking campaigns that shape consumers’ perceptions and foster brand loyalty using a combination of strategies including:

  • Media relations (press release outreach, press office function, reputation management)
  • Digital solutions (strategy, Google ads, SEO, social media)
  • Influencer marketing (strategy, influencer matching, events, gifting)
  • Event management (press trips, launch events, industry gatherings)
  • Content marketing (blogs, social posts, videography, advertising)
  • Sponsorship (strategy, negotiation, planning, execution)
  • Sustainability PR (ESG reporting, CSR activity, B Corp consultation)
  • Media training (bespoke strategies, broadcast interviews, crisis management)

For brands in the automotive / mobility space, these communications strategies, infused with years of automotive experience and underpinned by lasting connections with local media, can provide a platform for brand awareness, customer engagement and, ultimately, commercial growth.


What you also get with a PR agency is a voracious set of eyes and ears working continuously on your behalf.  You can’t put a value on this but here at Cullen Communications, we call it ‘PR Plus’ – being alive to opportunities, alert to potential threats, and always working to integrate with our client teams so that we effectively become an extension of the brand.

When this happens, great things materialise. But it rarely happens overnight. PR is about playing the long game; investing in patient, targeted relationship-building and carefully layering messages over time that consistently support your values and goals. As a long-term investment in business success, few strategies beat a winning PR strategy.

Today’s automotive world is filled with organisations that are trying to strike a balance between continuity and innovation – operating a stable, profitable business while simultaneously disrupting and dealing with disruption. To stand out in this complex world, you need a PR partner that understands the market as well as you do.

If you’re looking for a PR path to success, we’d love to talk to you.

One of Ireland’s leading independent PR agencies, Cullen Communications works or has worked with some of the world’s biggest automotive brands including Ford, Continental Tyres, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Easytrip, Spin electric scooters, FedEx and more.

Pearse O'Loughlin, Client Director at Cullen Communications

About the author

Pearse O’Loughlin, Client Director with Cullen Communications, has more than 20 years of experience across all areas of communication and works principally with clients in the corporate and consumer sectors. One of the most experienced automotive PR professionals in Ireland, Pearse specialises in media relations, event management, internal communications and strategic consultancy.


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