BECAUSE of the intense competition in the Philippine vehicle market, the role of press relations (PR) professionals in building a car brand in the Philippines has become more crucial.
But very few PR practitioners or professionals can claim to have “been there, done that” like Ariel de Jesus, who worked for the Toyota and Subaru brands in the country before taking on new challenges in other industries. His 17 years of PR and marketing experience can never be overlooked or discounted.
According to de Jesus, the press relations people of vehicle firms should learn how to establish their credibility toward the motoring press, but that does not come easy.
“You cannot just come in right away and expect that you can be trusted [by the motoring press]just because you are in the organization [of a car firm]and given the title of PR assistant or PR manager. It doesn’t mean you’re trusted right away,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean you can slap the back of every journalist you’re going to meet. It doesn’t mean you will be immediately credible,” de Jesus added.
He said the motoring press can be a valuable partner of car companies in delivering message to vehicle buyers.
“Right now, in this day and age of social media and advertising clutter, it think it is important that you rise above this with your credibility that the only media, only the real media, can give you,” de Jesus added.
“Facebook is just so noisy and it’s just so cluttered, [and]you don’t know who to trust in social media,” he said.
PR people should also give importance to traditional media, particularly newspapers, radio and television, but not overlook the relevance of the digital media in their line of work.
“Because I’m very old school, I still buy the newspapers, I still listen to AM radio every morning and before sleeping. I still listen to FM radio, I still watch the TV news,” de Jesus said.
“Social media is important, digital media is important, but for you to be a credible PR person, the mainstream media should be the foundation of your learning,” he added.
Over the long term, however, de Jesus still believes it is respect toward each other that is very important in order for a PR person to continually connect with members of the motoring press. Eventually, long-term friendships are also formed.
“Respect your peers, respect your colleagues, respect the position of the journalist, respect the relationship that has been formed already between the media and the organization,” he said.
And building long-term relations with members of the motoring press cannot be built over a short period of time. This, according to de Jesus, may be fault of some young PR people not only in the car industry.
“They don’t know the relationship [between PR and the journalist]was built on a lot of things, experiences like epic trips, and lots of them,” he said.
But dealing with members of the motoring press can be a rewarding career even if it means dealing with various types of people.
“It’s very exciting, it’s a very dynamic career. There are a lot of interesting, crazy personalities in that world. But once you develop the passion for it and once you find your working comfort zone, it won’t feel like work anymore,” he said.
“But when you have friends like [motoring writers]Dino Directo and Ira Panganiban, you take the good with the bad,’” de Jesus added while belting out a hearty laugh.