21.09.17

journo to PR

Three days into my new role as Account Director at hps Jardine working to represent BMW Motorrad UK, I had a moment making me realise my life had just changed massively.

That was almost a year ago this week. The moment happened on a Wednesday morning and I’d only started at hps Jardine on the Monday of the same week. The Friday of the previous week I had finished working as a journalist after more than 21 years on newspapers in local news and then the specialist motorcycle consumer press.

I was attending the launch of a new BMW motorcycle in Munich – home of my client BMW Group – and while the journalists were getting their technical briefing about the new bike, I was stood at the back having a very quiet chat with an extremely senior engineer from the BMW Motorrad engineering department. I know him pretty well after conducting many interviews with him over the years, but always in the role of me being a news journalist and him knowing exactly what he could and couldn’t tell me about product development.

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So three days into my new role, and wearing my BMW Motorrad branded shirt for the first time on a job, and the BMW engineer is chatting to me about technical changes to bikes a long way into the future. It was the sort of information, had I known about it just five days earlier, while still a journalist, that I would have been able to get at least three lead stories from. It’s also a mark of the level of trust between the hps Jardine agency and the clients we work with at BMW Motorrad and the way they treat us as an extension of the company.

Since then, so much has happened. The year has been a bit blurry and there have been so many events, press launches both centrally organised and our own events, British Superbike races, the Isle of Man TT and motorcycle shows. It’s been an incredible learning experience for me as I have used my years of journalistic background to make sure BMW Motorrad is being presented in the best light and the media exposure for the brand is as good as we can help make it.

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Arranging launches is something that has enabled this journalist knowledge to be put to the best use so far; I was the other side until last year so I completely ‘get’ what they want from a launch. It’s accurate information, a decent ride on the bike so they can assess it properly and photography that’s as good as they need. Forget the frippery so often thrown at launches; forget the long lunches, expensive food and drink of former years; the instant online world demands Tweets not Merlot. This change is something BMW Motorrad is fully conscious of with launches now entering a split world of traditional press, newer online reviewers and bloggers along with video who can sometimes get their own time on launches allowing the traditional motorcycle media to have their own space and time to ride the bikes.

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There have been some moments that you just cannot prepare for though. Supplying three bikes to a UK film studio with two days’ notice so a massive global movie star and his stunt coordinator (and entourage of about 25 people) could check them over and decide which ones were going to star in a forthcoming Hollywood blockbuster was not a normal Monday for sure. It also had to be done in total secrecy. I kept thinking of how much of a massive story this could have been in my previous life.

We’re about to move into another year of new bike reveals, new bike launches, shows and planning the 2018 PR for us and BMW Motorrad UK. The ever-changing media world offers both huge potential and it makes life very exciting. With a year of PR experience now under my belt, a million things I have learned and many millions more still to learn, I’m really looking forward to seeing how the coming year will develop and what we can achieve on behalf of BMW Motorrad UK.

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Article by Andy Downes


Account Director, BMW Motorrad

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