Dear Hyundai PR Manager…

Posted on October 10th, 2007 in Driving Emotion,hyundai,Opinion by Julian Edgar


Tiffanny Junee
Manager, Corporate Communications and Media,
Hyundai Motor Company Australia


Re today’s telephone conversation in which you expressed unhappiness about this blog post and suggested that as a result of the post, you would need to carefully consider before deciding whether or not to make available a previously booked press car.

I believe that all that is written in the blog post is factually correct. I take note of your point that the iPod contained the i30 media kit (something that was not apparent when it was switched on); however, since the same material was available on the provided CD, I still believe the gift of an iPod to attending journalists was completely inappropriate. I have added a ‘PPS’ to the blog post to cover this matter.

Your expressed perspective that, as an independent journalist, I am free to write whatever I wish appears at odds with your apparent horror at my blog post. You said to me that you thought the blog post was an attack on Hyundai; I consider it to be utterly appropriate that readers should know how your launch was conducted.

That other new car launches may be held in a similar manner simply confirms to me that journalists are doing their jobs poorly by not communicating such corporate behaviour to their readers. I am certain that all readers would like to know when journalists are presented with gifts and other benefits.

If you believe it appropriate that on a new car launch journalists should be given an iPod nano to communicate your press package, and be treated to a four-course, chef-prepared lunch, then clearly you would have no problem with my disseminating these points to readers.

Regarding the long distance drive in a Hyundai i30, a proposal that was discussed at the launch and in a subsequent phone conversation. After giving this some consideration, I have decided to withdraw my offer of undertaking an 8000 kilometre test drive in your car. Simply put, after our conversation this morning, it would leave a bad taste in my mouth.

I stated to you at the i30 launch that I believe Hyundai is likely to achieve great success in the next five years. That remains my perspective, at least on its cars.

Julian Edgar B. Ed, Dip T (Sec), Grad Dip Journ

17 Responses to 'Dear Hyundai PR Manager…'

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  1. Richard said,

    on October 10th, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Sometimes these PR people would be wise to keep their mouths shut. Where do they learn their craft?

    Whereas your initial story came across as a simple expose on car releases in “general” , the follow responses have now made it a story about Hyundai in particular.

    One wonders if the PR team is more interested in delivering a spectacular shindig than showing off the quality of their product. The name Tiffanny gives the game away 🙂

    From all accounts the i30 is a very competitive product.

  2. Edward said,

    on October 10th, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    I get the feeling she took the blog as a personal attack (she probably put a lot of time and effort into organising this!) and nothing to do with Hyundai. Ignore her and discuss the long i30 drive with someone else, preferably not in PR.

  3. Luke said,

    on October 10th, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Without wishing to cast aspersions on your journalistic integrity Julian, and notwithstanding the many other publications which receive long-term test cars – is it completely altruistic to ‘offer’ to test-drive someone else’s brand new car for 8000kms?
    This sounds a bit like a ’round Australia’ trip that one would tend to undertake with one’s family.
    One important difference being – and I mean not a hint of sarcasm when I say this – that I’m sure you would have at least communicated the circumstances to us in the course of the ensuing reports.

  4. Jorn said,

    on October 10th, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    It looks like a case of crossed cultures to me, we have on one hand somebody who’s in advertising & marketing, a game dedicated to pizzazz and schmaltz dealing with people who are interested purely in the nitty gritty of the product and it’s reality.

    By all accounts it’s a great product, but after all the fluff and pandering of the launch who would know ? Classic case of the “Event” being given a higher priority than the product.

    Sadly most manufacturers of products make the same mistake.

  5. Julian Edgar said,

    on October 10th, 2007 at 5:37 pm


    Perhaps you don’t realise that such a trip would personally cost me over $2000 in fuel and accomodation. My company supplies editorial to Web Publications at a fixed cost, so expensive stories – such as that one would be – come straight out of my pocket.

    I doubt very much whether any other Australian journalist will undertake a drive like that in a Hyundai i30. Who would designate the time and resources to do it?

  6. Nathan said,

    on October 10th, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    I would agree with the suggestion that Julian should approach someone else for press cars. In fact, I think this is where the problem with ‘press cars’ and their dissemination to journalists stems from.

    I think in an ideal world for the consumer, press cars would be dished out by an independent group, not related to the manufacturer PR group.

    To (attempt to) book a press car you have to call the manufacturer’s PR department. I have a big list of them in my office!

    I have booked many press cars over the years for staff at AutoSpeed and Autoweb, for them and myself to review, and have often run into trouble getting cars.


    Simply because we have highlighted negative aspects of some vehicles tested. Although never in writing (unfortunately) I have been told by more than on PR representative that we will not receive any more press cars because we gave their vehicle(s) negative press, or highlighted faults with a vehicle.

    I don’t think this is in the interest of the public at all. This attitude only serves the marketers of vehicles and I have found it frustrating that when trying to book some vehicles that I believe would get very positive reviews, PR reps still deny access based on prior (sometimes negative) reviews. I think Julian’s independent assessments of vehicles is something that makes AutoSpeed and Autoweb stand out as valuable resources for the car buying public.


  7. Darren Roles said,

    on October 11th, 2007 at 9:15 am

    The way that Julian and Co at Autospeed review cars and products in general is the main reason I subscribe. It was the same reason I subscribed to Zoom & purchased other publications that Julian has been associated with over the last 10 or so years since I became aware of his journalistic style.

    The fact that the various Automotive industry execs deny him the access to cars and products because of his honest (As in factual) reviews to me means that he’s doing a good job.
    I’ll always continue to subscribe to Autospeed for that reason. If he finds out that he’s wrong he says so, if he stuffs up he says so. Two stuff ups come to mind, the Skyline prang and the frying of the Prius battery.

    If I want flashy colour photos, pages of clever quotes telling me that I can’t go another day without buying the latest $80k Commodore/ Ford then I buy MM or Wheels.

    Out of all the journalistic publications I have read (Auto related or not) Autospeed is the still the only one I have noticed that contains a listing at the end of the article detailing if products/services were a freeby or not.

    And no, I don’t have any association with Autospeed other than my subscription purchased at the market rate…

  8. David Fernandez said,

    on October 11th, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    Julian, you need to get real and “accept” that any event organised by an auto manufacturer is an attempt to “manipulate” opinion. This is the reality of Advertising, Marketing and Branding in the world that we live in.

    If you are so hung-up about the i-Pod, just return it. By offering it as a prize in these pages, there is an implicit understanding that you have accepted it willingly from Hyundai (otherwise it it not yours to offer). As an aside, I am surprised that Hyundai did not give the journalists a Korean branded mpeg player.

    If you also felt that the 4-course meal was tantamount to a bribe, then you should not have eaten it. You have (had) the power to choose.If you ate it and then complained in your blog, I think you are being unfair. IMO, a four course meal is just one course more than the “basic” starter, main and dessert.

    I have, at one time or another, been a both PR professional and a motoring columnist. As the latter, I never allowed the quality of the A&P event or nature of the gift influence my views. If I felt that a gift was inappropriate, I politely declined to accept it.

    As the former, I appreciated the fact that some journalists expect to be pampered. There is undoubtedly a fine line between pampering and outright bribery but I would think that onus is on you the journalist to say “that is as far as I go”. And, IMO it only becomes a bribe if it influences your opinion (or if it was offered and accepted with the implied understanding that it would do just that)

    However, more often than not ,the reason for organising a more than “basic” event — that may in your opinion be pampering or on the cusp of bribery — is that manufacturers do not want to appear “cheap”.

    I would only fault Ms. Junee for suggesting that she (or the corporation she works for — remember she is probably facing a bunch of irate Korean managers thanks to your blog) would have to reconsider your press car booking. This isn’t right but it is what they do.

    If I were a PR professional working in the Australian car industry, and knowing what I know about you Julian, I would not invite you to my event (and hope you will not feel slighted). I would however, still offer you a test vehicle of your choice and live with what you have to say!!!.

  9. Julian Edgar said,

    on October 11th, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    I ate about one-third of the lunch, had one can of coke at the picnic stop (the one that I haven’t bothered mentioning that occurred on the drive and also had a range of foods and drink available) and when I accepted the iPod I was told that it contained press information. In my innocence, I thought that meant it had information not already in the press pack.

    My acceptance of the launch invitation (I have rejected perhaps four previous ones from Hyundai – no, I don’t expect any more!) was based on the assumption that for such an important car, Hyundai would actually have engineering staff from Korea attending. In fact, the only technical information I could get was when I approached the team of Hyundai local mechanics (following the press cars in case of a flat tyre, apparently) and took one over to a diesel i30 and discussed with him what we could see under the bonnet. AFAIK, not one other journalist even lifted the bonnet of a diesel i30.

    One thing that puzzled me so much about the launch, and the information since made available on the car, is how badly Hyundai has done it. I know of no tech information on the diesel engine (which apparently is a brand new design), no tech information on the Australian-developed suspension, no tech information on the revised steering (except it was re-mapped, presumably here in Australia), no information on the body design, etc, etc.

    What an amazing approach not to make, for example, a huge deal of the “suspension reworked in Australia” angle, especially considering that every Hyundai ever sold here has been criticised in its ride/handling. (And none of those cars had Australian-developed suspension.)

    Technology-based companies like Honda, BMW and Mercedes take huge pains to get technical information out to journalists, primarily to better establish their long term reputation for technological prowess.

    Even sporting models of local cars have information provided on what has been done to the suspension – eg the new spring rates, anti-roll bar diameters, etc.

    Hyundai in Australia appears to me to be working to a 6-month “long-term” plan, not trying to establish a 5 year or 10 year growth in reputation underpinned by technological excellence. And yet they told us the company spends $5 BILLION per annum on R&D….

  10. Jason said,

    on October 12th, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Well, after reading your latest road test (possibly the last from Hyundai) on the Tucson City, – it’s obvious that you hold no grudge against Hyundai. Yes, I know that vehicle was probably evaluated and the story was written many weeks BEFORE the i30 launch, but being web based, I know that it would have been easy for you guys to just pull the story in light of Ms Junee’s comments.

    Perhaps Ms Junee should realise that there are some journalists that are a little more ethical than others, and she should let the PRODUCT do the talking…

    Either way, she has brought extra unwanted attention to the issue by her comments which is a pity…

  11. Richard said,

    on October 12th, 2007 at 11:41 am

    I had a chance to look at the i30 at the Motorshow last night.

    I came very impressed by the interior design and quality. Both of which put the spotlight on the average interior plastic quality and design of the new Impreza and Lancer.

  12. Frugal-One said,

    on October 15th, 2007 at 12:31 am

    Its Korean, dont get blinded, years if not decades behind the Japanese.

  13. Frugal-One said,

    on October 15th, 2007 at 12:33 am

    Hyundai has attempted this type of *buying* media personal before.
    “Half price Sonata’s” anybody?………
    I think its time BigT crush this company with clout that they have

  14. Julian Edgar said,

    on October 15th, 2007 at 6:20 am

    To suggest that in their cars Hyundai is now decades behind the Japanese is absolute rubbish.

  15. OttoAu said,

    on October 15th, 2007 at 11:54 am

    I am more with Frugal than you Julian.
    The Koreas are behind, not just in automotive but also in electronics etc
    Cannot and do not know of ONE thing that Korea makes that is superior to hand me down copied Japanese…Not ONE thing.
    All my Korean things are junk, ie LG fridge and TV, juicer etc, all useless.

    Anyway i have learned the hard way:
    “You get what you pay for”
    Learn it and remember it!
    PS Check out the dash in the Hyundai SUV, its plastic is yuk looking, just sea of grey!

  16. Jason said,

    on October 30th, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    After driving the i30 for a while recently, I can honestly say ‘”Forget everything that you previously thought you knew about Hyundai and take a look at this car.

    This a bloody fantastic little car and certainly well worth a look at if considering a Corolla/Mazda3/Focus. If you discard the i30 just because it’s a Hyundai – then more fool you.

  17. Julian Edgar said,

    on January 10th, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    A reader has lent us a diesel i30.

    Excellent car – I haven’t written the test yet but my notes suggest at least 8/10.

    Hyundai has recently turned down our request for test cars. I wonder how good the diesel Sonata is? I’d GUESS it’s very good – yet I never see any on the road….