Southern Group of Motoring Writers Industry & Car Awards 2020

Nominations are in – winners will be announced soon!

I’m a member of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers (SGMW) and right now major battles are being fought over the group’s New Year Honours List 2020 – the awards for the best motoring PR operators and star cars of 2019.

There are still a few nominations to come from the 30 SGMW members, but the committee has already identified a few leaders in the seven industry categories, with the winners to be announced on 1st January 2020.

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:

Poppy Mackenzie-Smith (Press officer, Corporate – Ford)

“A highly professional new operator at Ford.”

Emma Gaffney (Media Relations Executive – PSA Group)

“Emma is efficient, knowledgeable and always comes back to you when she promises.”

Monique Clarke(Press Officer – Mazda)

“Has quickly found her feet with one of the most imaginative PR teams.”

The SGMW OBE (Operating Beyond Expectation) –for anyone 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:

Lindsey Dipple (Press Fleet Operations Officer – Jaguar Land Rover)

“Ever helpful – a great first point of contact at JLR.”

Carly Escritt (PR & Events Manager – MG)

“Carly is a brilliant all-rounder – enthusiastic and well-organised.”

Lucy Goss (Partnerships and Events Manager – Nissan)

“Friendly and efficient, she makes Nissan events fun.”

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


“The team never lets its high standards fall.”


“Seems to get better and better under Simon (Branney).”


“John Handcock and his team have really brought out the history and distinctive appeal of the brand.”

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:


“Nice to see Lotus reaching out more to us; the Bicester Heritage Event was a superb way to remind us about a great brand.”


“One of the smaller PR outfits, always manages to punch above its weight – this year’s sailing event on The Solent was typically imaginative.”


“Pietro (Panarisi) and his team always run a good event – the media bike ride and the interactive Q&As idea caught my attention this year.”

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

Suzuki Jimny

“We marveled at how Suzuki retained the old car’s affordability and versatility, while taking this little car up another notch. Just great fun too.”


“A real dark horse and game changer. Suddenly there is a very capable and affordable EV contender in a practical and trendy SUV package.”

Toyota Supra

“Toyota has really hit the heights with this sophisticated and elegant car, also enabling the World No1 to keep its sporting cred intact, while pursuing a laudable green agenda.”

One to watch 2020– the car that SGMW members most look forward to driving in the coming year.

Volkswagen ID.3

“Looking like the breakthrough EV for the German giant and the 50-50 weight distribution/rear-engine layout also makes it intriguing. Can’t wait.”

Ford Mustang Mach-E

“The blue oval has put the reputation of a major sporting sub-brand on the line here – any motoring writer would want to put it to the test.”

Land Rover Defender

“A classic reborn? None of us can wait!”

SGMW Car of the Year


“Good looking, beautifully packaged and a great line-up.”

Renault Clio

“Sets the pace in style for the supermini sector, but now a great all-rounder, with good powertrain options too.”

Tesla 3

“It doesn’t ask any compromises of those converting from fossil fuel.”

SGMW Chairman Ian Robertson said: “It’s our third year of awards and interest has mounted each time. We have some excellent candidates for the 2020 PR awards – can Kia make it a ‘Best PR Office’ hat trick? – and an interesting field of runners in the race for the three car categories.

“As announced, previously, we have also added an eighth award this year,to the Group’s ‘Southern Star’ – the SGMW member who has done most for the organisation or its profile, or done something praiseworthy or beyond the call of duty.” The identity of this individual will also be revealed on 1 January 2020.”

Already the largest regional motoring writers’ group, the SGMW has added the awards to a list of profile-boosting successes: the annual Karting Grand Prix hosted for Group PR contacts; annual summer Heritage Day; and regular Sunday ‘Breakfast Boost’ meetings.

The SGMW represents motoring journalists living or working in the region around the M25 motorway, stretching from Norfolk in the north to Portsmouth and Brighton in the south and from Reading and Oxford in the west to Kent in the east.

The Group’s main role is to assist and enable communications between its members and the motor industry at large. Current membership stands at 30 journalists working on local, regional and national newspapers, plus magazines, books, websites, social media and television, to provide the public and specialist industry sectors with the latest motoring information.

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