Suzuki takes prestigious ‘Best PR Office’ crown in SGMW New Year Honours List 2021

Suzuki takes prestigious ‘Best PR Office’ crown in SGMW New Year Honours List 2021

02.01.2021: Suzuki’s busy PR team has toppled Kia’s hat trick dominance of the ‘Best PR Office’ award in the annual New Year Honours List by the Southern Group of Motoring Writers.

Suzuki’s busy PR team has toppled Kia’s hat trick dominance of the ‘Best PR Office’ award in the annual New Year Honours List by the Southern Group of Motoring Writers.

A consistent theme of SGMW members’ nominations was how Suzuki, comprising Head of Press & PR Alun Parry and Press Officer Jess Grimditch, delivered quality support and events in 2020 despite COVID-19.

The point was reinforced by a joint runner-up award for ‘Best in PR Innovation’ and SGMW Chairman Ian Robertson said: “Alun and Jess represent a modest-size PR office, but our members know they land a big PR punch, and it was always going to take a special team to shift Steve Kitson’s Kia, ‘Best PR Office’ winners for the past three years.

“It was also achieved in a difficult year but, as we said when launching the latest awards ‘when the going got tough, who got going?’ The big vote for Suzuki says it all.”

Reviewing all four PR awards within the honours list, Ian added: “We lost PSA’s Craig Morrow when he retired from the industry this year – the SGMW wishes him well after virtually writing the book on how best to run a press fleet – but he helped mentor Mike Arnold, who has already shown himself a more than able replacement, as recognised by the ‘Best PR Newcomer’ award.

“But we may be kicking ourselves for taking so long to reward the superlative organisational and people skills shown by Toyota’s Erica Haddon – a true gem, recognised at last by the OBE award.

“We also welcomed BMW back to the limelight with its ‘Best in PR Innovation’ award; the ‘Bicester Motor Show’ was a brilliant concept and members raved about it. I even went twice myself.”

Looking at the three car categories, Ian said: “As ever, we had some unusual one-off nominations, but most members narrowed their choice to a handful of worthy contenders, with the Honda e emerging as the SGMW COTY winner, and the Peugeot 208 as a stylish and worthy runner-up.

“Toyota’s GR Yaris was also a popular choice and might nearly have been COTY, but I’m sure Toyota will be pleased to add its ‘Dark Horse’ title to Erica Haddon’s SGMW trophy.”

It was then Ian’s turn to take some plaudits as runaway winner of this year’s ‘Southern Star’, for the Group member who has done most for the organisation, its profile, something praiseworthy or beyond the call of duty.

Group Publicity Officer Steve Loader – last year’s inaugural winner of the award – said: “Ian’s ‘Southern Star’ win was this year’s most clear-cut result and due recognition of how much he has done in this challenging year to keep the Group ‘motoring’, but also how much he always does in representing the Group, industry networking, and keeping a fatherly eye on younger and newer members, on top of his ‘day job’ as editor and publisher of a leading national magazine and website.

“He has also presided over the Group during one of its most successful eras, in which our events and profile have blossomed.”

The full results for the SGMW New Year Honours 2021 are:

Best PR Newcomer – awarded to someone who made a special impact in liaising with the media during the past year and is either new to the industry PR scene or has taken on a new role/position:

Winner - Mike Arnold (Press Fleet Manager – PSA)

“Having succeeded Craig Morrow as PSA press fleet manager – a hard act to follow – Mike has got to grips with a tough job quickly and is maintaining Craig’s high standards.”

Runner-up - Chloe Yemm (Press Relations Manager – FCA)

“Chloe is no stranger to us, but her move to FCA is brilliant for both parties – she is an experienced operator with great people skills.”

The SGMW OBE (Operating Beyond Expectation) – for acting above and beyond the call of PR duty during the past year. It can be for consistent high performance, a memorable one-off effort, or a thoughtful gesture towards one of our members caught in a bind:

Winner - Erica Haddon (Manager, PR Operations - Toyota)

“The beauty and brains alongside Scott Brownlee. A supreme organiser who makes all the launches work, gets the motoring writers there and back and is totally unflappable and a great friend. Toyota Group’s unsung hero.”

Runner-up - Simon Branney (Head of PR – Honda)

“He never ceases to amaze me with his dynamic approach to PR…and his ability to shock.”

Best PR Office – awarded to the operation consistently delivering the best all-round or forward-thinking service to SGMW throughout the year:

Winner - Suzuki

“Small is beautiful” and “Consistently good, despite being a team of two and presumably master (and mistress) of one of the smaller PR budgets.”

Joint runners-up – Honda and Citroën

Honda: “Simon (Branney) and John (O’Brien) made a sterling effort this year under difficult circumstances. The two launches post lockdown No1 – Jazz Hybrid and Honda e – were so innovative, given the circumstances.”

Citroën: “John Handcock is the leader and shaper of a great team of people.”

Best in PR Innovation – awarded for an unusual or particularly excellent launch, driving route, or any imaginative addition to an event of the PR year in general:

Winner - BMW Group

“BMW did extremely well in carrying out their socially-distanced full-on range review at Bicester” and “A return to form.”

Joint runners-up – Suzuki and Honda

Suzuki: “Suzuki’s simple idea to run a cheese and wine tasting evening social event via Zoom was really well executed - a lot of fun.”

Honda: “For the Honda e and the 'drive in movie' presentation – a novel idea that also worked well in practice.”

‘Dark Horse’ of the Year – a car that surprised SGMW members, either by its arrival or just how good it was:

Winner - Toyota GR Yaris

“A brave car for the hybrid pioneer and in a difficult time, but one set to become a cult motor – a world rally car for the road.”

Runner-up - Polestar 2

“Polestar’s first family car looks terrific and promises to be a great ownership proposition.”

One to watch 2021 – the car that SGMW members most look forward to driving in the coming year:

Winner - FIAT 500

“The new version of Fiat’s icon is now all-electric, with an improved interior, and a more striking exterior and interior.”

Runner-up - Ford Mustang Mach-E

“It’s not easy to reinterpret the Mustang’s dynamic essence in an SUV body but Ford’s design team have nailed it.”

SGMW Car of the Year

Winner - Honda e

“A well-thought out, fun-to-drive urban electric car. Highly loaded with technology and strikingly designed. It might lack the long range of some rivals but has desirability in spades.”

Runner-up - Peugeot 208

“Looks great, desirable, and relevant while also introducing an electric powertrain to this supermini range, to cover all the bases.”

SGMW Southern Star - for the Group member who has done most for the organisation or its profile or done something praiseworthy or beyond the call of duty.

Winner: Ian Robertson

1 - Mike Arnold - Best PR Newcomer
2 - Erica Haddon – OBE
3 - A&3B – Suzuki duo Alun Parry and Jess Grimditch were voted Best PR Office
4 - BMW - Best in PR Innovation
5 - Toyota GR Yaris - Dark Horse of the Year
6 - FIAT 500 - One to Watch 2021
7 - Honda e - SGMW Car of the Year
8 - Ian Robertson - SGMW Southern Star



Steve Loader – SGMW - also photos


02.01.2021 / MaP

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