A Trip to the 2019 North American International Auto Show

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Every year since 1986, just as the winter starts to take its hold on Michigan, people from all over the world flock to Cobo Center in the city of Detroit to see the latest and greatest in the auto industry. This year, on Jan. 16, members of Grand Valley State University’s (GVSU) Chapter of PRSSA were lucky enough to attend the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS)on an Industry Preview Day.

Growing up in the greater Metro Detroit area with a mother who worked for Ford, I was no stranger to the Auto Show. In fact, for several years it was a family tradition to brave the Michigan weather and become mesmerized by the futuristic cars the NAIAS showcases every January. However, the Industry Preview Day presented a completely different experience of the Auto Show. Thanks to our PRSSA Professional Adviser Derek DeVries, who was generous enough to land us day passes to the show, we were able to learn about what it is like to handle public relations for this iconic, large-scale event; and of course, feast our eyes on some breathtaking cars!

Shortly after arriving at the show, we were greeted by Amanda Niswonger, who leads the media relations efforts for the NAIAS. When asked about the biggest hurdles she has faced, Niswonger told us about the Boil Water Advisory that Detroit was under just days before the opening night. Her strategic preparation of knowing who to contact in an event like this left her prepared to handle media and answer questions regarding how the Auto Show would handle the situation. Niswonger left us with a great piece of advice when sharing what it was like to take on this job: “If you get an offer that scares the absolute hell out of you — take it.”

One of my favorite displays at the Auto Show was Lincoln’s. The aesthetically pleasing sunset palette drew me in from across the showroom. Lincoln representative told us their display theme was “Quiet Flight.” The pastel oranges and pinks of the backdrop reminded me of flying while watching the sunset. We also were told that Lincoln has elevated their vehicles to match with lifestyles. Lincoln is commonly known for their commercials featuring celebrity endorsers such as Serena Williams and Matthew McConaughey. These celebrities were chosen to promote the brand because they were already Lincoln drivers. Lincoln also recently paired up with Tidal, a music streaming service. When a customer purchases a Black Label vehicle, they now have the perk of receiving a free one-year subscription to Tidal.

This is the last year the North American International Auto Show will be held in January. In fact, there are a lot of changes coming for NAIAS 2020, which will be more like a festival rather than a convention. In lieu of winter weather, the cars will be displayed outside, feature concerts, food trucks and more! I am looking forward to the new chapter of the North American International Auto Show and cannot wait to attend again next year!

Thank you again to Derek DeVries, without whom PRSSA would not have been able to soak up the knowledge of the Auto Show. It was truly an incredible experience!

This piece was written by Delaney MacKenzie

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