What I learned from being invited to the launch of a new Abarth 695 in Italy. Advice for journalists and racing drivers.
Despite having been on many press trips, there’s still the odd one that makes me pinch myself. My recent trip to Italy was exactly that when Abarth flew me out for the launch of the new 695 Rivale, a car launched in collaboration with Riva Yachts. I spent the day in the sunshine eating beautiful Italian food and drinking prosecco by a lake. I went on a number of yachts and took some time to myself to pretend I was in a Bond film.
This wasn’t just play, it was work. I’m still baffled by my own job sometimes and I, of course, wouldn’t change it for the world. There’s a lot I learned from this trip that I can pass onto aspiring motoring and motorsport journalists. There’s also an important lesson for racing drivers and brand ambassadors; collaboration.
Abarth teamed up with Riva yachts to create the 695 Rivale, the road-going cousin to the Rivale 56 yacht from Riva. This collaboration opens up both brands to new audiences. Riva yacht customers now have a lovely little hot hatch to match their boats and Abarth is also elevated by the connection. I’m also now more obsessed than ever with yachts and Abarth.
Some of you may know the name Riva as they work with the Ferrari Formula One team.
Your social media presence is key to being invited a long to these kinds of events. In-the-moment coverage is just as important as the coverage the brands are going to get once you’ve gone home and written up your piece. Even weeks on from the event, I’m still sharing pictures, talking about the beautiful Rivale 56 yacht, and am planning on ways to work with Abarth again.
Not only do events like this give you something to share across your social channels but it’s a chance to build your brand, to show people what you’re about. That goes for everyone, whether you’re a journalist covering an event as an invited member of the press, or you’re a racing driver attending a public or sponsor event.
As one of only two members of the British press at this event, I didn’t get the chance to speak to many other journalists. I did, however, meet many wonderful people from Abarth and we took the time to get excited about potential road trip features with the brand in the future. The trip was brief with a lot of travelling but it was all worthwhile because I made some fantastic connections. This is something to consider when attending any event. On top of the social order antibiotics media, blog and website content a trip can give you, think about the people you might meet too.
Don’t forget that it is work
It’s easy to be swayed by free Prosecco and food but you must remember that you are working. You must not appear to be having a jolly on someone else’s dime. By all means, enjoy yourself but don’t forget that these kinds of events are work and that you have to keep a certain level of control. There are probably people at these events you need to impress. That goes for racing drivers heading to sponsor events, journalists on press trips and anyone else who might be faced with a free bar.
Acting as a brand ambassador
As an Abarth owner, and like other owners out there, I am an unofficial ambassador for the brand. Even more so when I’m invited to cover events. It’s my job to write about the brand, to share images and inform readers. Not every event will be like this because, as a journalist, you may have to write honestly about things you didn’t like but in this instance I was an Abarth owner, enjoying lovely Abarth things.
For racing drivers it’s different. If you are employed as an ambassador for a brand, you have to live and breathe it. If you’re working closely with a brand that you’d love to be an ambassador for, you need to think like you’re already in that role. If you can show a brand the benefits you can give them before you work together, it can be easy to seal the deal later.
Collaboration for racing drivers
Collaborating brings benefit to both parties. Riva has been introduced to journalists, like myself, while Abarth has a new brand connection and is now known by Riva customers and fans. It’s win-win for both parties, not the mention all the other marketing and sales benefits.
As a racing driver, when you collaborate with a brand, think about how you can work together. You’re opening your audience up to a brand while also getting access to the people who already follow that company. It works to elevate both brands. That’s why, when you’re starting out, collaboration is key. Money might not change hands but there could be a lot of benefit to your profile as a driver for working with a certain brand. However, make sure you’re not being taken advantage of. Your worth as a driver, ambassador and sales tool is greater than you might think.
Consider the benefits of any partnership to you and the company you’ll be working with, whether you’re talking about simple mutual promotion, product sponsorships or big ambassadorial roles.
- Consider your role at any event and act accordingly
- Start thinking about events that are relevant to your brand
- Make a point to attend events that will provide great content for social/online
- Make contact with the brands/events you’d like to cover/work with
- Racers, think about how you’d work with a brand as an ambassador and give them an insight into that before you pitch