How well does an automotive giant work with the “move fast and break things” attitude of Silicon Valley? Very well, as it turns out. InkHouse sought to demonstrate just that with the PR program for Toyota Research Institute’s annual event series, Onramp 2017, which targeted Silicon Valley innovators. The goal of the program was to highlight Toyota’s unique perspective and experience when it comes to autonomous driving and robotics, but also demonstrate that TRI is an exciting place for the brightest engineering minds to work. Onramp 2017 consisted of an event known as the “Prius Challenge” – a car race that judges its winners not on their speed, but rather on efficiency. The TRI team needed a PR program that would educate potential participants about the Prius Challenge in advance of the event, but one that would also provide plenty of day-of media coverage.
InkHouse focused on creating a mix of traditional pre-event coverage with fresh ideas to help communicate the fun of the Prius challenge to outside audiences. In advance of Onramp 2017, we organized interviews with the TRI executive responsible for the event with critical media outlets and set up calendar listings, while creating a robust social media presence where there had been none. For the event itself, we arranged for an Engadget reporter to participate in the challenge, creating a unique coverage opportunity. We also worked closely with TRI to organize a media Q&A for reporters to ask questions of typically hard-to-reach TRI executives, including CEO Dr. Gill Pratt. Additionally, InkHouse leveraged a small news announcement–the unveiling of a new research vehicle–to draw attention from reporters who were not able to attend the event itself. The campaign resulted in 61 pieces of coverage. Twelve journalists attended, including those from the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Forbes, MIT Tech Review, and local broadcast outlets.