The Mean Mower – No wonder your shrubs are shrivelling!

Honda (UK)’s Mean Mower (#meanmower) has officially broken the GUINNESS WORLDs title for the Fastest lawnmower, averaging 116.57 mph to break the previous record by almost 30mph. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFo7ztlMlmg

The ‘Mean Machine’ which rose to fame in late july 2013 is more than just your average lawn tractor. Fitted with a 1000cc – 100HP Honda Firestorm engine (That’s a very powerful Motorcycle engine to you and me), the Mean Mower has top speeds of near 130mph.  The project has already prompted both national and internation coverage with the likes of The Metro, Mashable, Daily Mail Online, Evening Standard and many more covering the story.

The idea for Mean Mower was to demonstrate Honda’s spirit of innovation, its motor sport heritage, and that it makes more than just cars. Mean Mower was designed and built in the UK by Honda (UK)’s British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) partner, Team Dynamics. The team re-engineered a Honda HF2620 Lawn Tractor from the ground-up, adding an all-new fabricated chassis, custom-made from 4130 chromoly, to provide a strong, safe but very light platform. A 1000cc engine from a Honda VTR Firestorm was used, along with a bespoke suspension and wheels from an ATV.

Ellie Ostinelli, PR Communications Manager for Honda (UK) comments: “The original brief for Mean Mower was to create the world’s fastest lawnmower – and now it officially is, by some distance! We are all delighted to hold a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title and we’d like to thank everyone who was involved in what has been a challenging yet incredibly exciting project.”

The ability to still cut grass was also a key element of the brief, and the super-fast mower still can, admirably, thanks to two electric motors on the cutter deck, spinning 3mm steel cutting cable at an incredible 4000rpm. The mower can cut grass at around 15mph, more than double the flat-out speed of the original HF2620 from which it is derived.
Every effort was made to retain as much of the look of the original mower as possible. The cutter deck was custom-made in fibre-glass, to reduce weight, while, in a stroke of pure genius, the grass bag provides a happy home for the fuel tank, a high capacity oil cooler and a secondary water cooling radiator.

However, the Mean Machine’s journey isn’t over just yet – “We’ve got some exciting opportunities lined up for the Mower in the next few months. It’s journey has only just started so who knows where it could lead to”.

 

Product Launches

Product launches are just one part of my placement, however they play a huge part in the automotive and automotive PR agency industry.

A press launch is the first time the media and journalists get to see products, in this case our vehicles -whether they be two or four wheeled. As they say first impressions are the ones that stick so its important that the launch suits the product.

So far i’ve been lucky enough to attend three launches. Two for cars and one joint launch for two bike models. It was a great experience and allowed me to meet journalists face to face as opposed to just emailing or talking over the phone. It was a great way to start building relationships and networking but also to help communicate the key points regarding the product.

There’s only so much a press release or brochure can say so it was interesting to see how my colleagues “sold in” the products to our guests face to face. PR, it showed, isn’t just about press releases and reactive communication. It’s about pro actively engaging communication with stakeholders and finding ways that interest not only the stakeholder, in this case journalists, but also their publics too, the journalists readers and audience.

So making connections between the car and its different aspects is really important. We wanted to showcase the class leading boot space as well as its high fuel economy and performance attributes. Therefore we launched the car at a well known racetrack in the UK – alongside it’s racing counterpart and race team, with a roadtrip to and from the hotel where our guess were staying. When the journalists arrived at the race track there was a competition to see how many racing trophies were in the car, followed by a passenger lap in the race car.

 

It sounds complicated but all of these aspects pulled together made an impression on the journalists in attendance. It wasn’t just factual presentations and a quick test drive – it allowed the stakeholder to engage with the product and brand and have the opportunity to experience something special and exciting.Making something ordinary – extraordinary.

Launches I’ve found are also a great place to gather feedback from industry proffessionals and to also chat about any upcoming features or stories that both parties could work together on. Its a great way t communicate ideas without the pressure of sounding like a sales person.ImageImageImage

Overall launches have been really fun, and although hey can be tiring, I’ve learn’t a great deal from them.

A Very Late Hello

Hello Again,

It’s been a while, actually a very long time, since I last posted. Again it’s the usually excuse of being super busy and being too wrapped up in everything to remember to write any of it down.

So this is going to be a very long post, as I’ve always got a lot to say! But I’ll be doing a separate post on product launches and also CSR, so keep a keen eye out for those!

At the start of December I was lucky enough to go on my first Pan-European product launch, for the Civic Tourer, in…ITALY! We took out a couple of journalists to show them the car, go through it’s features and run through specifics for each of their specialist areas. It was certainly and experience, and the views were spectacular. The hotel we were staying at was a stones throw away from The Vatican and we were lucky enough to see them putting the finishing touches to their Christmas tree. I’ll write more about my trip to Rome in the product launches post which will be coming next week!The Vatican

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My Christmas Jumper

The following week I had organised my first Charity Day for the company. In the true Christmas spirit it was Christmas Jumper themed. We held a bake sale and raised over £700 for charity. It was great to raise so much for such good causes and got everyone in the mood just before the Christmas party. It, the Christmas Party, was absoloutely hilarious. Seeing some of my co-workers let their hair down was tremendously funny, and it helped me get to know some people a bit better! Saturday morning wasn’t welcomed by any of us though, but it was a great night!

The time off from work over Christmas was great, you don’t realise how much you need the time off, however it was still hectic! Usually at Uni you get around a month off, this year I got 8! So it was a hurried time seeing everyone from home and catching up with friends. Squeezing in some family time and taking a day or two off just to sleep! Going back to work was just as tough, getting back into old routines and “forcing” myself out of the holiday mode was pretty hard but I managed to do it!

Next on my list was the UK launch of the Civic Tourer, which was held at Rockingham Race Circuit in Northamptonshire. It was great to actually meet journalists that i’d talked to over the phone and via email. It was also great to gauge first hand their reaction to the car and what they thought about it. Sitting in on some road tests was equally as interesting and allowed me to network with some interesting people!

Honda BTCC Civic Tourer 2014

Honda BTCC Civic Tourer 2014

 

I also got a chance to have a passenger lap in our 2014 British Touring Car Championship race car which was terrifyingly exhilarating! I don’t think I’ve ever been more lost for words in my life – something which the team we’re thankful for!

And finally, last week I got a chance to go on a motorcycle launch in Greece Again this was a Pan-European launch and it was great to meet loads of international journalists and bikers. My only downside was that i’d hurt my back an was unable to ride on the bikes, but hopefully this will be changing soon!

Integra and NC750X Launch

Integra and NC750X Launch

Anyway. look out for my next couple of posts coming up in the next few weeks!One will be on the product launches I’ve been lucky enough to attend and the other will be on CSR!

Thanks,

 

Dev

Twitter: @MrDevMistry

Instagram: @DevMistry1993

 

It’s been a while…

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote a post, and this time it’s not because I was too lazy to write one.

In my life I can honestly say that I have never been as busy as I was in the past 3 weeks. With motor shows, car dealer conferences, motorcycle shows and everything else on top, I’ve honestly spent a lot of my spare time sleeping.

Due to varied events and an extremely important motor show in Tokyo the office was empty I’ve the past few weeks, at many points it was just a singular colleague and myself running the press office. It was an experience to say the least and one I’m glad to have worked through successfully – in my opinion.

Taking on not just my supervisors work but also doing parts of my managers job was really tough, balancing two separate jobs with my own was never going to be easy – which I found out first hand. One minute I’d be writing internal Comms and the next I’d be sorting out Journalists with information they needed for a 5pm deadline. It was genuinely hectic.

This was all going on whilst I “project managed” our CSR project around our Car Dealer Conference. It’s all a bit of a blur but I’m recovering quickly with more exciting things ahead.

Our CSR project involved raising money for charity and involving the community in our efforts. This proved an interesting task with obstacles constantly stunting our planning growth but it allowed me to work with an external agency closely, which in turn helped my develop my managerial skills – something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. The night turned out to be a huge success from our CSR side with the company raising over £4000 for charity!

One of my main tasks for the past months has been the creation of a coverage Ebook. This is a compilation of all our coverage received and, with the publishers permission, compiled into an Ebook for internal staff to view all in one place. Compiling articles was the hardest part as going through the normal PR channels wouldn’t have proved successful. What I did find helpful was publishers actively trying to help, which I didn’t expect to happen. It lead me to interact with some specialist journalists as well which is really useful for future networking. The Ebook was premiered at the car dealer conference, and it was great to overhear the positive comments from dealers about my work. The gentlemen next to me was rather impressed that I’d collated and over saw the creation of the Ebook. People don’t expect much of an intern/placement student.

This time allowed me to prove myself not just to my team but people in the industry we work with regularly. Journalists now come to me actively to ask questions instead of waiting for my managers out of office, and I feel comfortable answering their queries. We joked in the office about how I was running the office a few weeks back and it felt true almost. That responsibility was scary but helped me work hard to achieve my goals.

I’ve also started working on events at weekends, which is a great way to continue learning about what the company does and its values. Two recent events have been

Mumsnet: Blogfest and Motor Cycles live

. Both were totally different one focused on engaging bloggers and getting them to release their creativity. The other focused on motorcyclists and their passion for the brand and its products. The latter helped a lot as a lot of the visitors taught me a lot about our bikes and passed on invaluable knowledge.

The team really appreciated my hard work, which I really appreciated in turn. It’s good to get acknowledgement and praise – it’s confidence boosting and helps turn constructive criticism into objectives and goals. I also got a humungous surprise which I’ll reveal next time I write. All I can say is I’m glad University hasn’t ruined my appetite for pizza and pasta!

Dev :) x

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Product Placement – But where does it lie?

Sorry for the delay in posts, we’ve had a very busy week at work. People are off sick, on holiday, on external meetings – so there’s a bit more work to do than usual. 

One of my biggest challenges of this week was our  companies intranet. My lovely supervisor, who’s been off sick for a few weeks, manages it and receives daily requests to update sections of it. Some processes are simple – but other like creating new sections and placing new documents in certain places can become quite confusing. I have managed to keep up with most requests and figured out how to navigate my way round tasks, but I’ll surely be glad to have my manager back!

This was all added to my daily work which has sometimes had to take a back seat. We receive numerous journalist requests and press enquiries daily which sometimes have to take priority over what we are doing, no matter how inconvenient it may be. This week also tested my people skills, which were stretched far further than they needed to be. Under stress you can be tempted to be rude to everyone who annoys you, which you certainly can’t do, however rude or horrible that person may be. I had a customer stalk my social media profiles last week just to insult my position within the company whilst also trying to get what he wanted. Being patronized like that was nearly enough to make me write a strongly worded reply, but I realised i had to take everything with a pinch of salt – however sour it may be.

 

Product Placement became a slight issue this week, mainly because no one wants to take responsibility for it. I handle the sponsorship enquiries for our company, along with charity and CSR. So many of these product placement requests come to me, which in truth they shouldn’t.

Product placement is essentially paying a media producer to include your product within their content. Whether this be a branded truck in a movie or a Rolex sitting prominently on James Bonds wrist, its all product placement. It’s also all be paid for, to get on screen for a certain amount of time or to cover a substantial amount of space on a poster. Therefore as a company has paid for the product to be placed in that content its advertising/marketing. 

PR – as i have always been told – is free publicity or a way of companies gaining exposer whilst creating two-way communication channels, it’s about relationships. Sponsorship therefore is a a form of product placement too, i.e. when you sponsor a movie you create an association with said movie and ride on the back of their success/hype. 

 

But no one actually wants to take responsibility for it, which makes it difficult at work when an enquiry comes in. So I suggested this. If its paid for publicity send it to marketing, If its creating relationships give it to PR. A simple and mostly effective way of doing it. 

What do you think? Should product placement sit firmly in one area or should it be split? for those who don’t know what product placement is, have a look at this short video showing some obvious examples.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GP9enms7xY4

 

Dev x

 

 

(Anti) Social Commentary

Today I came across an article that surprised me, I would say shocked but recently, from today’s “Two Screen Generation” (quickly becoming “Three”), I’ve seen a lot worse. It was written by Ruby Tandoh – a contestant on The Great British Bake Off, commonly referred to as GBBO,  a show which Ruby describes as  -

“Ten weeks of frenzied baking culminated in a great pastel-coloured explosion of flour, bunting and puns. Within the confines of our little picket-fenced tent, we threw ourselves into the challenges of picnic pies and pretzels, shaking, terrified, dosed up on adrenaline and Rescue Remedy.”

GBBO is a fun, homely and addictive baking reality TV program, a revived breed of the ever evolving genre of media. You would imagine its audience to consist of a mature age range – but the diverse range of audiences it attracts is vast. With this mix of age ranges it drew considerable attention, not just from mainstream media but social media and alternative media platforms.

This is where we start to see the problem. In our “Two Screen Generation” (TSG) we consume media using multiple devices, we can watch a TV show and surf the web at the same time, we will have the TV on and be tweeting or blogging about what we are watching at the same time. We feel the need to share our opinion and thoughts as we consume media – it makes us feel involved, part of a community, a form of escapism. It’s only when we think about what we are actually saying, do we question our participation in this way of consuming media.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely no saint, if you were to follow me on Twitter or Facebook you would see that I too am part of the TSG, during XFactor, The Only Way Is Essex, GBBO, The Voice, Films, Radio Programs,  and many more will you find me sharing my opinions on what I witnessed before me. No longer is it just confined to reality and real life moments, I have become part of a generation who feel the need to share everything.

Do we ever think about the consequences of our shared thoughts, does the fact were commenting from behind a screen protects us? The simple answer is no. Social Commentary is just that – social. I like to call twitter a “Personal Public Platform” – you share your personal experiences and opinions on a public level. Everyone can see it, no longer is it in your personal sphere (as Facebook used to be) but it’s in the public sphere- adding to public opinion and the media agenda.

The GGBO attracted a lot of social commentary, from those admiring bakes- to those the bakers, and the negative commentary flowed swiftly like a river on a downhill gradient. From gender slurs to the promiscuity of some contestants, all was commented on – however irrelevant it might be.

To me it shows that social media commentary has become more of a necessity as opposed to a once in a while activity. We use it now more than ever to say what we really think however wrong it might be. But do we ever think of the consequences of our actions. What happens to those contestants who read our tweets and blogs?

Ruby discusses the flip side to this in her article. How did she feel seeing all those tweet, portraying her to be a “slag” and “whining little girl”, how did it make her feel reading it. After all she is only 21, a member of our TSG and more importantly a part of our society – a human being.

Social media blurs the lines between reality and fiction. We can be who we want to be in real life, online. The question is how far will we take it?

Read Ruby’s article on the link below, feel free to leave any comments and follow me on twitter for more updates – @Mrdevmistry

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/22/great-british-bake-off-ruby-dandoh

Dev x

Will The Real Banksy Please Pop Up!

I’ve started contributing to PRexamples.com – When applying for jobs and creating this blog a lot of content was either inspired from or gathered from the site. Have a look at my newest post here! - http://prexamples.com/2013/10/will-the-real-banksy-please-pop-up/

Banksy is one of the best know “street artists” in the world, his art is known for it’s dark humour, political and social commentary and for its signature looks. Banksy is known to some as just a mere graffiti artist, yet his art work is more iconic thank just a graffitied wall or bus stop.

One of the reasons Banksy’s art is so sought after is because on the air of mystery that surrounds Banksy as an artist. This is part of the reason why some of his paintings have sold for millions of pounds, which is why this stunt was so good.

Banksy set up, as many have done before, a pop up shop in New York, selling canvases for around $60 (£40). These original works were created and signed by Banksy, and were on show for all to see as passers by walked past the pop up shop. Over the course of the day just 3 people picked up pieces, with one woman haggling a 50% discount on her purchase and a gentleman purchasing peice ” just to hang on his wall”. Banksy made just $420 from that day, a little under what he usually makes for his art work. Passers by had no idea as to whether these were originals or what was going on for that matter. They gentleman who was hired to sell the paintings looked like a normal man – nothing out of the ordinary. Which makes it even better.

Now this wasn’t a failure in anyway, the coverage Banksy’s pop up stall received was huge, with global media reporting on stunt, and passers by tweeting their misfortune in not purchasing a valued piece of artwork for just a fraction of the price. To own a Banksy piece is something – and everyone knows that.

The hype around Banksy is huge as it is, but this PR stunt was a nice way of keeping people interested in the British artist and also may hint to bigger projects in future. Check out the video below for more details.

Dev x