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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Brenda Priddy: Charlatan

What the hell is that? The picture to the left is some sort of SUV, what it is specifically I have no idea. Allegedly it is the upcoming Dodge Caliber.

Brenda Priddy and a few others all around the world love to sell these photographs to magazines, and then expect us to drool over them. But what are they? They are heavily camoflauged prototypes of soon to be made cars. The catch is that they are heavily camoflauged. That's the point. The automakers don't want you or their competitors to know what they look like before they come out. That's why they are made to look like bulky nothings. And often times much of what seems to be revealed is changed in the final car.

And that's why the automakers allow them to drive around in public. They know that no one will know what the hell the vehicle is, and has no way of really knowing the final design.

Yet magazines, dying for content print these. The more I think about it, I believe the auto companies actually want them printed. They reveal nothing about the car, and they act as PR for the companies themselves. In short, they are an advertisement. A free one at that, because the magazine, web page, or whatever didn't pay them, but a PR person did. And it wouldn't surprise me at all if Brenda Priddy or her competitors are "allowed" to photograph many of these at will.

It just goes to show that a great deal of what is "news" that mainstream press like "autoblog.com" and "edmunds" and "autocar" is really just stuff from PR firms representing the auto companies. Don't get me wrong, I work in PR and I love reading rehashed press releases. They are a source of information, just don't think that you are learning anything radically new, or different. You are being told what they want you to hear. They being the automakers.

Comments:
Wow, Rick maybe you shouldn't have that second cup of coffee in the morning. You just figured this out? Come on, it's been gong on for years, a gentlemen's agreement between automakers and automotive journalism. The Auto Makers of course want you to see the test mules, most anyway, so it can create buzz for an upcoming product. And the Auto Press needs them to keep people reading, because in reality, you need to have something to print every month.

But who gets hurt, it's not a consiracy, it's how to create buzz for the car and the magazine. And as for the guys at AutoBlog, hell they have at least 6 guys and gals blogging 7 days a week, they need content also.

Breath deep and relax, put down the coffee and have some herbal tea. You say you work in PR, so you should know how this works, why sound so surprised, like you just discovered the moon landing never happened?
 
You're absolutely correct, I'm just being melodramatic. It never ceases to amaze me though as I descend deeper and deeper into the world of PR how much of what is "news" is really secretly written PR articles. Most of the quotes you read from executives of companies for instance were in fact typed up by PR hacks rather than the execs themselves. Even in interviews you can bet that a PR person was in on a conference call with the journalist and the interviewee setting things up and cutting off the exec before he or she says something stupid. There really is very little real news out there.
 
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