Pick up any automotive trade publication or read the automotive section of the local newspaper and it becomes evident that Telematics is a hot topic.  The future is now… and Motorola has proven to be the industry leader with the introduction of the Motorola iRadio, a communications platform that combines integrated telephone navigation, concierge, safety and Internet access in one central piece of real estate on the dashboard. The PR objective for Motorola and Hill and Knowlton was to raise the company’s profile, and thereby the visibility of the Telematics category and the product, above the noise level in the competitive automotive electronics industry. Although Motorola has been doing work in the automotive electronics business for more than 70 years, the company’s recognition in the industry was low. The public relations challenge for the communications team at Motorola and the dedicated Motorola team at Hill and Knowlton was simple:  build a case for Telematics technology and Motorola in an increasingly crowded automotive electronics marketplace.
From the outset, Hill and Knowlton was faced with a difficult challenge: explain the term “Telematics” to new audiences.  Motorola essentially invented the term, but it’s not a word automotive consumers were familiar with.  Automotive industry media, analysts and industry pundits know and understand the term, but they still needed new information on the growing scope of the category e.g., the additional wireless capabilities being included under the Telematics umbrella.  And there is the matter of urgency – the window of opportunity closes quickly in the automotive industry, so today’s hot new automotive technology can become as pedestrian as a steering wheel in a short time. 
Motorola was starting from ground zero with regard to bringing knowledge and acceptance of Telematics technologies to a wider audience.  Results from industry studies sponsored by organizations ranging from the University of Michigan to analyst reports proved that people outside of the automotive industry were unfamiliar with the technology, but that industry watchers had some knowledge of it.  Feedback from industry editors and other leaders contacted by Hill and Knowlton further validated that there was an opportunity to create awareness and increase visibility with the right message.
The key objectives for this program were straightforward: 
  • Increase the visibility of Motorola in the automotive electronics industry and create a broad awareness of the Telematics market and specifically, the iRadio product, within the automotive business. 
  • Target audiences were potential specifiers, including automotive OEMs and car audio manufacturers, and consumers interested in feature-rich in-vehicle communications.
The Motorola/H&K communications team augmented an initial consumer-focused push by opening a dialog with trade media to ensure Motorola’s category leadership position remained high. The goal here was to establish recognition of Motorola’s leadership positioning and to ensure that reporters working on Telematics-related stories always included Motorola as a contact point.
With a baseline of industry awareness established, the Motorola team embarked on a classic pull-through media outreach strategy.  The initial push was all about consumer media, e.g., telling the story of how iRadio works, what it can do and its value to the driving public.  That effort resonated throughout the year with added tactics ranging from one-on-one interviews and editor ride-and-drive opportunities to executive presentations, B-roll footage and a video news release.  Much of this work was done to ensure editorial contacts received the information they needed and talked to the right Motorola spokesperson.  By mid-year 2000 more editorial activity was garnered through reactive outreach by responding to inquiries rather than in proactive outreach.
On the consumer-recognition front, Motorola’s iRadio was exposed to more than 64 million readers, viewers and listeners with total impressions of more than 204 million during 2000. 
Messages came across every available medium:  newspapers, consumer magazines, trade magazines, radio, television and the Internet.  The iRadio story has been reported in Europe, Asia and across North America, and the momentum continues to gather.
Advertising equivalency for the public relations campaign has been converted and shows that comparable spending of almost $8.6 million would be required to achieve the same results.  Client spending for the program was substantially less than $1 million; the client does not reveal specific spending levels for its communications programs
During 2001, the H&K/Motorola team is moving toward feature stories, a second video news release and one-on-one executive interviews with top-tier business publications.  This all adds up to a much greater recognition of Motorola’s Telematics leadership position – beyond its industry positioning.  And all of this momentum has created a fertile and welcoming environment for additional media outreach for iRadio.