By on August 5, 2016

Lotus Evora 400, Image: © 2016 Jack Baruth/The Truth About Cars

If you want to truly understand how the sausage of “automotive journalism” is made, there are two articles that you absolutely must read. The first is fun: it’s by Neal Pollack and it talks about the outrageous excesses of Mercedes PR’s “Pied Piper.” The second is long and occasionally tedious: it’s called “Taking Readers For A Ride” and it was written for American Journalism Review by a fellow named Frank Greve with material assistance from … yours truly.

Most people know by now that the majority of new-car press introductions are absurdly sybaritic affairs, featuring five-star hotels, unlimited room service, outrageous gifts, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Why does Subaru have to introduce the XV Crosstrek in Iceland? The simple answer is that they didn’t … but they knew that the broke-ass journalists who used the trip as a vacation (and, in at least one case, a hookup) would treasure the trip for the rest of their lives.

This sort of thing distorts autowriting to a degree that is borderline insane. But if you listen to the PR people and their apologists in the media, they will tell you that there is just no other way to do it. Wrong answer. It’s possible to do a press intro on the cheap — and it’s also possible to make that intro the best one of all time.

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