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Old 30th December 2014, 10:54   #121
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

Awesome!! Now this is called some work. Truly I never knew that so much goes in reviewing.

All that lack of sleep and rest can easily be forgotten if you are doing something you love. I believe you guys certainly are doing it. I wish I could have got into doing the same...Alas!!
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Old 30th December 2014, 11:15   #122
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Amazing topic you have managed to touch upon GTO. Was always impressed with the way car reviews are given on Team BHP even when I was a non member. In fact these reviews were the solid basis for making a few decisions for my own purchases.

You have provided us detailed report on the kind of effort that goes in all those reviews and believe me, it shows in the reports. No wonder, everyone searches for Team BHP reviews before making up their minds on what car to buy.
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Old 30th December 2014, 13:24   #123
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

So, you've heard it from GTO and the mod-team. But I'm sure there will be few people who are still skeptical of the whole process. I have been lucky enough to be a part of a team-bhp official review process, and below are my observations, as a proud critic (not sure if its the right word to use here!) of team-bhp.

Between, incase you are wondering - it is the Avventura Review.

Summary of events -

11/10 - I receive a PM from GTO asking if I would be interested.
14/10 - Flew down to Mumbai for the drive event.
15/10 - Back in Bangalore by evening. Work on the review and pics started.
19/10 - Review and pics submitted.
21/10 - Review went online.

About a week from the initial talks to review submission, in addition to my regular work week.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
1) A manufacturer-hosted test drive event: These are typically large-scale test drives where ~100 journalists are hosted by the car manufacturer. Duration is normally 1 night / 2 days. The most frequented locations are from Rajasthan & Goa, although we've been to drives in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Himachal, Jammu etc. Tamil Nadu might be the 'Detroit of India', yet driving events there are few & far between. If you want to review a car before it's launched, this is the only way to do so.
The Avventura review was a manufacturer hosted drive event - from Mumbai to Mahabaleswar and back. We started from Mumbai around 10AM on Tuesday morning and returned back to Mumbai around 5PM on Wednesday.
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
• Manufacturers host several batches of media coming in, for driving events spread over multiple days (e.g. 5 batches of 2 days each). The batches are usually split into magazines & TV, websites & major newspapers, smaller / regional / vernacular publications and dealers.
Our batch only included online publications. Other magazine and TV media like Autocar, Overdrive etc had already published their content online.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
• Travel & accommodation expenses are borne by the car manufacturer. These include air tickets, hotel stay for a night and meals. Additionally, some manufacturers offer airport pickup & drop-off.
All my travel and accomodation was borne by the manufacturer. I was picked up from my bangalore home to the airport (Innova) and a car was waiting at the Mumbai airport as well (Sunny).

However, GTO himself came to the airport to pick me up and give me some orientation on the review process.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
For 3 out of 4 drives, a photographer is allowed to accompany the reviewer. This greatly improves the review quality. The work is split up and there's an additional pair of eyes to make observations on the new car.
I did the review alone mostly because -

1. Avventura was not an all new car.
2. I was a Punto owner.
3. There were many reviews during that time and the mods had their hands tied up.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
• The biggest challenge at a press drive event is T-I-M-E. You have to use yours with incredible efficiency!! There isn't a moment free, and one tries to squeeze out every extra minute he can get with the car. Press drives are the only time when my phone goes unanswered, and messages unreplied. You simply don't have the bandwidth for the same. Sleep & rest are a luxury.
+ 1.

Based on my small experience, I would like to rephrase it as 'Time to take pics'. Boy, I didnt think it would be so much of hard work. GTO had advised me not to search around for a scenic location (I can see Rudra sir disagreeing on this one). I almost screwed up on Day 1 where we just couldn't manage enough pics before the light went out.

GTO was clear when he called to ask for an update just when it was nearing sunset - 'wherever you are, just pullover and click the snaps'.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
We're put up in standard rooms at a 5-star hotel. Suites & economy-grade hotels are more the exception than the rule. Except for a handful of hours of sleep, we never see the room.
True. One of those rare occasions where I woke up before sunrise, without even waiting for the alarm to ring.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
• There are anywhere between 10 - 20 test drive cars at each event. 1 or 2 are kept as a backup, in case a journalist crashes one of the main rides.
There were 4 cars for our media drive. Should be because the batch only included online publications.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Day 2 starts early with a flag-off between 0700 - 0900 hours. A handful of us get to the (parked) cars at sunrise to shoot. Quick shower, breakfast and you're good to hit the road.
We were at a photoshoot location by sunrise. Shower, breakfast etc had to follow afterwards since we were so deperate to get some pics.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
One aspect where the PR company could really give the car a boost is by choosing an appropriate road for it. Example - a twisty road for a tight handler, or rough roads for a model with excellent ride quality. Regrettably, PR companies know little of the car or its strengths. The car comes last, typically after transportation logistics, hotel options, scenery and uniqueness of location.
Just to add a point from my limited experience -

The manufacturers / PR guys have limited knowledge of the route, local photoshoot locations etc. As it happened with me, it was my first visit to Mahabaleswar and I was not prepared for what was in store. Google is your best friend if you are planning to go on a review to an unknown location.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
An FAQ: Nope, we don't screw on actual Team-BHP number plates on test drive cars. They are photoshopped later on.
I guess it sounds easy when he said 'photoshop'. But these are not easy, AT ALL. Kudos to Stratos and the mod team for putting in such huge effort. I made a mistake of underestimating this!

Originally Posted by vinit.merchant View Post
What happens if some journalist actually manages to damage one?
I guess the damages would all be borne by the manufacturer, but still, any penalty to the journalist in case it is found to be his/her fault ?
Originally Posted by MaxTorque View Post
what happens If the vehicle gets damaged during the event? Who will be responsible for the losses?
One of the media drive cars in our batch was damaged (I suspect a fried clutch) when some publication tried some extreme off-roading and got it stuck. They were accommodated in the other cars.

Originally Posted by Geo_Ipe View Post
An extremely informative thread!!

Is it possible to invite non-Mod BHPians too for these official events?? Maybe send out random invites to BHPians who have completed, say, 4/5 years of membership. It would be nice to have a non professional write up as well! And it would be dream come true for us ordinary BHPians to attend such an event!!
I'm not a mod. Heck, I dont even agree with the mods most of the time. LOL!

I was chosen because of my availability and experience with the product. Random invites wont work IMO. This is real serious work with very tough deadlines. So any experience with the product helps.

Originally Posted by SchumiFan View Post
Wow! Reading this makes me want to give more respect to the newbies for the official reviews S2, Crazy Driver, nkrishnap.

By no way I am saying it is easy for the regulars but to dedicate the same amount of attention to details while doing all these in the limited time frame requires commitment and interest towards the community.
Thanks for that.

Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
Exactly, there is a much tougher "After the Drive" part. This part is generally two weeks long on the average, where the wives can get very mad at losing all family time.
Very mad.

I only had to plan for my wife, but it was not so simple as I realized later. She didn't take kindly to the amount of stress and work I was putting in. She herself spent a lot of time doing spell checks and grammar corrections to help out but ended up angry with the stress it was taking on me. Took a few days to calm her down.

Now, a few more questions that have been raised to me in private after my review experience -

1. Is GTO biased against FIATs? How was the writing process? Did GTO / mods influence the writing?

I can guarantee that he/ mods did not change the meaning of even a sentence I submitted. The original writeup I submitted was too long for forum standards and GTO helped make it more precise. That too, wherever major corrections were made, he picked up the phone and conveyed it.

2. Was it fun?

The drive was fun, but there is a lot of work always. Making observations, clicking pics. The real work starts once you are back from the drive. These guys start working on the pics etc from the airport itself.

3. How did you sort differences of opinion with the mod team

To give an example - Previous Team Bhp FIAT reviews had 'niggles' as one of the negatives points. Based on my experience it was service network that was the major issue rather than niggles itself. We had a discussion on this and finally GTO did see my POV.

4. How helpful are the mods? Or were you basically on your own?

A bit of both. Right from picking me up from the airport, to giving valuable tips during the orientation, to introducing me to the PR team, to giving calls once in a while to check on the status - GTO was always there for the review. But, he also gave me my own space to make my own observations and write the same.

5. Given a chance - would you do it again?

Of course yes, provided I can manage my work / family commitments for the said period and an additional two weeks afterwards.

Last edited by Eddy : 30th December 2014 at 14:17.
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Old 30th December 2014, 13:45   #124
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

Respect to the Mod team, S2, CrazyDriver, Parrys and all those who have been a part of the official reviews. Previously I thought that moderating a forum as big as TBHP is itself a big task, but then when I went through the intricate details of the official reviews through this article, I can only say that it is a herculean task in itself to review just one car.

Kudos to you guys who made TBHP one of the most respected and elite online forums. Proud to be a part of it, however small


Edit: My 2200th post could not have been made at a better time.

Last edited by saket77 : 30th December 2014 at 13:47.
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Old 30th December 2014, 14:01   #125
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

Great fun interesting read and i completely agree and buy your point on the fact that given that the team is not Journalism trained - it adds a certain angle to each and every review which is published increasing the quality and the take out's that someone like me , as a reader , would be looking out for and/or hoping.
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Old 30th December 2014, 14:22   #126
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

I finalized the Grand i10 purely based on GTO's review. I was skeptical initially because of it's 3 pot diesel! However, GTO's review helped me take a final call and after ~12,000 kms in 8 months, very happy with the car and enjoying every moment with it. Whenever, friends/family talks good about the car, I silently thank GTO.
Recently when I read that his bhabhi bought a Grand, I was like WOW.
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Old 30th December 2014, 14:38   #127
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

A very good insight, didnt realise that there is so much background work for every official review being posted here until now.
I am greatly impressed by the values set by GTO and the mods, especially the part where GTO refused to accept expensive gift and putting up of TBHP stickers only on the cars completely marked to us -
such nice gestures makes us stand apart and Kudos to the team.
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Old 30th December 2014, 14:55   #128
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

Finally got some time to go through this thread at leisure! Great job done Rush- reflects very accurately what each of us goes through when we attend a drive meet.

When I first became mod, I remember asking Rush with great trepidation when I would be able to do my first official review and he said, "Soon, buddy. Soon!" I didn't realize how soon and later that year when I got the summons, nearly had a panic attack when I realized the amount of hard work that goes into it! But the fact is that every TBHP review is a true team effort and would not be possible without the help of Rush and the other mods. Now about 4 or 5 drives down, I can handle them much more calmly

Originally Posted by Samurai View Post
In case of fussy photographers like Rudra, Tanveer and myself, we do post-processing (PP) ourselves. Only the name plate screwing-in is done by the regular PP team.
Tell me about it. You guys set such incredibly high standards how can the likes of me and my piddly PnS even hope to compare? My debut drive was a revelation to me since despite following the photography instructions to the T, my pics were barely there quality-wise despite a lot of effort at the back-end! It's still something I need to work on, though having another member along more knowledgeable about photography does help.

Originally Posted by //M View Post

I recently reviewed a yet-to-be-launched car for my company. Lots of brain storming and discussions later, I used some of the Team-BHP parameters in reviewing the car and my seniors were very impressed with my work.
That's awesome to hear. The Team BHP MO has been fine-tuned over hundreds of drives over the years and we still learn something new every time. Good to know our readers appreciate it.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
I think the best part about the Team-BHP Core Team is that none of us are professionally trained in journalism (we're business / engineering / IT / design / law majors). That's why we were able to start from a clean slate, bringing our own style of reporting. We also continuously improve....look at the difference between our first review (Ritz) and the latest. It's quite evolved.

What helps us come up with good reviews is simply...the love of cars.
Amen to that. In fact, considering that most of us do write a lot on the forum, it is a huge challenge to actually produce the kind of detailed, consistent reviews that the forum is known for. For example, leave it to me and I'd start with a joke It takes an incredible amount of discipline to stick to a format when it comes to what is essentially a creative activity. With Rush's help, we manage, every time. And somehow despite the red pen being figuratively liberally applied to our submissions, the end-product remains distinctive (e.g. I can smell Rehaan's or Ajmat's reviews a mile away from the first couple of paras). I like to think of it as our collective love of cars shining through!
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Old 30th December 2014, 16:42   #129
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

Wow, thanks for giving us the behind the Scene details.

You guys are truly amazing & that's some commitment (considering everybody has their job/business to take care off). I believe this is a perfect case study for Time Management.

Thanks for all the wonderful reviews and very proud to be part of this forum.

Keep up the good work!!!
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Old 31st December 2014, 13:06   #130
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

fantastic write up guys. Never knew media drives were so organized. Would love to be a part of one.
Loved the parting image.
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Old 31st December 2014, 14:38   #131
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

Ha, what an awesome post! Interesting to see what you guys do in a review. And hats off for keeping Team-BHP away from sponsors of any sort - including branching off into some magazine format etc. That would surely dilute the power we hold in our collective hands at present!

Great going guys!!
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Old 31st December 2014, 15:46   #132
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

Wow, This is simply superb. A peek at what happens at press media drives. Similar to behind the scenes of movie making. Never have I seen this kind of information. Thanks GTO.
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Old 31st December 2014, 17:08   #133
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

This may sound ameture question.
But, I am curious to know.

What do the manufacturers do with these cars once the media drives or say all the pre-launch events are done?
Are these cars sold to general public?
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Old 31st December 2014, 20:00   #134
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

Originally Posted by iamahunter View Post
This may sound ameture question.
But, I am curious to know.

What do the manufacturers do with these cars once the media drives or say all the pre-launch events are done?
Are these cars sold to general public?
I don't think so. My guess is that most probably they use these cars as their test drive cars and send them to different dealers.Other reasons could be that they keep some samples to test the long term longevity/reliability and in case an issue comes up they might use these cars as their guinea pig to resolve that. In all respect they can not or should I say must not sale these cars to customers.
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Old 1st January 2015, 20:01   #135
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Default Re: Behind the Scenes: How Press & Media Drives Work

It is really interesting to see the kind of hard work that the Team-BHP moderators put in to provide clean information for everyone. Never thought his much hard work goes into each review. Kudos to the Moderators for such a wonderful work.

I have got a chance to accompany the media drive event as a member of the development team for a recently launched car. On that side, every one of us will be equally tensed and in prayers hoping everything to go well. It will be a disaster for the car and the OE if something goes wrong during these media drives. So a lot of attention and care is given to these drives to make it flawless though something goes wrong unexpectedly like the crash of Ford Ecosport during the drive event.
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