Autocar named Laura King, Hyundai’s senior manager, brand PR, in its list of motoring’s “rising stars” in its Great British Women in the Car Industry event today (June 21). Ahead of the announcement, we caught up with King to talk PR, the challenges facing motoring communicators and what’s next for the industry.
Congratulations on being crowned Autocar‘s Rising Star in automotive communications! What does the award mean to you?
The award means a huge amount to me, it really does. To get recognition from my colleagues and Autocar, which is such a highly-regarded automotive magazine, is a real honour.
Motoring is widely viewed as a “male” pastime. How important do you think it is to recognise the great work done by women in the industry?
I think it’s important to recognise the work done by both men and women in the industry. But I hope that focusing on females specifically will help inspire others who may never have considered a career in the automotive world.
I really would encourage women to look into this sphere, as it’s one of the world’s most important economic sectors and is ambitious, dynamic, rewarding and constantly innovating. It can present a multitude of exciting opportunities, not only in the UK but all over the globe.
You joined Hyundai’s PR team in 2007. But what’s your vision for the brand’s future?
I think innovation will always be a key focus and the brand will continue to democratise technology, making high-end features and technology accessible to the mass market. I believe Hyundai will also continue to lead the charge in terms of alternative-fuel powertrains – like it has done already with ix35 Fuel Cell and IONIQ.
From a communications point of view, Hyundai now has desirable, high quality vehicles. The challenge is to ensure that the brand is aligned with this product offering. We’ve made such huge progress at lightning speed, but we must now focus on consistency of message going forward and we still have a job to do in terms of improving brand awareness and familiarity.
From Tesla’s electric cars to self-driving vehicle technology, the automotive industry is a hotbed of innovation. What challenges would you say these innovations are creating for PR professionals?
Innovation is a key priority for Hyundai and it’s what makes this industry so exciting. As PR professionals, this gives us an array of interesting stories to tell and it allows us to speak to a wide range of media.
However, it does also present challenges. With so many manufacturers working on innovative projects and launching new technology, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. Our job is to communicate these innovations in meaningful ways that resonate with consumers.
Of all the projects you’ve worked on at Hyundai to date, which are you most proud of?
One of the stand out campaigns for me is A Streetcar Named Hyundai, which was a world-first initiative. It involved developing new technology, mapping, driving, photographing and filming all 16,500 streets in central London in the zero emission Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle to celebrate Hyundai UK’s 10th anniversary.
The aim was to create extraordinary engagement and content for all internal and external audiences – and challenge current brand perceptions. The campaign achieved 136 pieces of coverage that reached a new audience – with tech titles, environmental press, photography press, broadcast media and national newspapers covering the story.
It more than doubled Hyundai’s PR value and took Hyundai UK to the 4th most visible volume brand. This project was special because it was creative, multi-faceted, hugely ambitious, lived the brand values of “new thinking, new possibilities” and really did change perceptions of Hyundai.
What’s the best advice you’ve received over the course of your career? And what guidance would you give someone just starting out in the comms industry?
The best advice I’ve received was to simply see challenges as opportunities and learn from the people around you. I’ve been privileged to have had many opportunities to broaden my experience, such as going to work at our HQ in Korea and being given the autonomy to develop Hyundai UK’s brand PR strategy.
My guidance for someone just starting out in the comms industry is to be enthusiastic, proactive, and to make sure you network. It’s also really important to go into an industry that you’re passionate about – if you have plenty of passion and determination, you’re half way there.
What do you do to unwind after a long week at work?
I have a gorgeous Irish Water Spaniel and going for a long walk with him in the countryside really helps me to relax. He’s a cheeky chappie so always puts a smile on my face.
Oh, and a glass of Prosecco (or two) also helps!