BLOG: Seize the opportunity of social media like Skoda

Time 1:00 pm, February 8, 2012

YESTERDAY I witnessed first hand some amazing use of social media – and it made me realise the opportunities in the virtual world are endless.

Let me explain. Due to a perfect storm of events, yesterday I was left without a car to use. As you can imagine this is rather inconvenient for a petrol head.

Our roadster road test cars – which feature on the cover of the next issue – had all gone home, the 911 we’d secured for BEN had been dropped off for sale at a dealer, and my Fiesta XR2 had just failed its MOT.

Facing the prospect of walking to the office, or worse still, asking for a lift in Batch’s Citroen C2, I took to moaning about my situation on Twitter – simply because moaning is what I do best.

‘I have no car,’ I tweeted. ‘How has this happened? What am I supposed to do now? Walk?’

It was a half-arsed attempt at a joke, but it got some interesting reactions. Then something strange happened – five minutes after my tweet an email arrived from the Skoda press office.

‘We’ve just seen your tweet, and were wondering if you’d like to borrow one of our cars,’ said the press fleet administrator.

At first I didn’t think they were serious. But they were.

‘It’ll be with you by 2.30pm,’ they added.


I took to Twitter again to explain what had happened and in a reply joked that ‘I wonder if I moan about not having anything for lunch someone will deliver a Subway too?’

Come 2.30pm and there was our test car – an unmarked police car-spec Octavia vRS diesel. I jumped in to put it in the car park and tell the driver how it all came about.

‘Blimey,’ he said. ‘That probably means you don’t know about the stuff in the boot?’

Stuff in the boot?

‘Yeah, there’s lunch in there for you – and some flowers for your wife!’

And he wasn’t kidding – sat in the boot was a Marks and Sparks BLT, Coke and packet of crisps, and a huge bunch of blooms. Now this really was going above and beyond the call of duty.


Now I appreciate how this looks – journalist moans, car manufacturer jumps. But fortunately the subsequent review will fill a hole in the next issue of the mag. And just to ensure we’re completely unbiased by the whole knight-in-shining-armour approach to how the car arrived, I’ll make sure Batch writes the test.

By now you’re probably thinking either a) Jammy git or b) Why are you telling me this? Well, that’s because it got me thinking about the power of good PR.

Just think about the amount of people I’ll tell about this experience, about the reaction on Twitter and the fact I’m writing this blog about it.

Now think what if that had been your dealership that had spotted a local tweeter had an issue with their car, or a charity needed help with lifts, or that someone simply wanted to test drive a new vehicle that you had in stock.

What if you spotted it and did something about it? Random acts of kindness can be the best publicity stunts you’ll ever pull. Word of mouth goes a long way these days – especially with the power of social media to fuel it.

It’s certainly worth thinking about. Granted it won’t happen every day and you can’t spend your life monitoring Twitter to spot opportunities, but when you do it’s vital you seize the opportunity while you can.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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