So I guess this might be considered a call out to all involved, but as a member of three years, I am seeing a trend that concerns me. We seem to be losing members, losing participation from manufacturers, and not recruiting writers of all caliber. We have access to some of the most amazing roads in the west and yet the cars we are getting out here are nothing like what is seen in Washington state or with other groups. And as I look at the membership, I personally feel like I am the youngest one representing the Rocky Mountain region when in fact I know there are a slew of great, young writers with massive potential out there that should be members.
So as I look at these aches and pains, seeing the drop in participation at events, I am really curious to what the group is going to do to turn this around. How are we going to get the A-list writers back on board, recruit new writers to the team, and show the manufacturers that we are worth taking serious again?
I think the largest problem is that actual, paying jobs to make a full-time go of it in automotive writing are few and far between. The majority of RMAP members that I know do this part-time, not FT.
I've noticed a really lame trend among publications that seem to want to require their writers to live near and report to their editorial offices (invariably LA, New York, Detroit). I've also noticed that many of the "top shelf" auto mags have become little more than two headline writers and a bunch of interns pumping out content with little or no interest in freelance contributors.
When I attend events, which I try to do as often as possible and seem to do more often than many, I note that those that show are usually the ones who either make a mostly-FT living at automotive or don't have day jobs getting in the way of attendance. Manufacturers (and their PR) who want to boost the attendance numbers should probably consider weekends for events. There are few markets left where FT journalists are the norm.
From my vantage point RMAP looks pretty healthy, though I am a state away from Colorado. In Arizona we have an automotive media association as well, but much smaller than RMAP. We face the same challenges getting involvement, getting on the radar screen of manufacturers.
The media fleets in Denver are much more robust than here in Phoenix, and this I really believe has a good deal to do with the gravity and audience a number of RMAP full time members bring to the group as a whole. This benefits everyone in the region whether they are full time or not.
Full time in this business means FULL TIME. Indeed very few can pull it off as it requires the kind of hours, travel, expense and brain damage at times that makes a job at McDonald's sometimes look more lucrative. Alas it is a job everyone I know here wants to have and loves. Sometimes that makes it worth the battle.