Getting Social With Jaguar Land Rover's Leah Watkins-Hall

August 3, 2010
Leah Watkins-Hall

Leah Watkins-Hall

A couple of weeks ago, we kicked off a new feature called "Getting Social", where big guns in the auto industry share their thoughts about what's next in marketing, communications, and social media. Today, we interview Leah Watkins-Hall, Manager of Corporate Brand & Interactive Communications for Jaguar Land Rover North America. Wanting to keep the social media vibe flowing, we asked Leah if she'd be game for a Twitterview, and luckily, she said yes. Then again, we wouldn't expect anything less from someone who's constantly surrounded by aggressive, never-say-no rides....

@RichardRead Hey, Leah!

@LeahWH Hey, Richard!

Let's get right to it and start with the basics: how long have you been with Jaguar Land Rover and what are your primary responsibilities?

I celebrated my first year with Jaguar Rover NA on June 15. My primary focus is interactive and brand communications, but I work on corporate communications, too.

Could you describe an average day in your office (assuming that communications folks have "average" days)?

An average day is definitely something we don't have. LOL

Completely understood. How about a rundown of your major activities then?

Even though we're all tied to our Blackberries, the first thing we do is catch up any missed email, return calls and look over news coverage...

Then we tackle the day, which for me involves making sure we're on top of content for both Interactive Jaguar and Interactive Land Rover...

working with marketing on product launches, brand sponsorships and strategy, maintaining communications with the media and keeping an eye on our SM platforms.

Speaking of: how do you define social media?

For JLR NA, SM is a way to reach our consumers where they are. It has shifted the way we communicate with our customers and the media.

Did you find customers took to it really fast? Or were they slightly hesitant, preferring face-to-face and phone?

When we first launched the Interactive sites, we were looking to speak only to the media -- a digital newsroom of sorts...

but since we didn't password-protect the sites, customers started finding and following us, seeing us as another way to have access to the brand.

Sounds like they were pretty eager to be in touch. Have you found that to be the case on social media sites like FB and Twitter?

For us, JLR NA, I find it to be the case more on Twitter than on Facebook...

I think it's still gaining momentum.

That's probably true for most automakers, as everyone figures out these new methods of communication.


Tell me: what sort of social media tools do you use every day?

Personally: Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, Linked-In...

Professionally: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. I'm looking to do more GPS-based SM with @InteractiveJag and @InteractiveLR as well.

Is there one that you couldn't live without?

Twitter -- but if I somehow couldn't Foursquare, I'd go through withdrawals. It's become my latest obsession.

Do you have a favorite mobile device (iPhone, BB, iPad, Android)? Maybe a favorite app?

I use my Blackberry more than anything, but I can't wait to pick up my new 4G iPhone. And Tweetdeck because I can manage personal and professional accounts.

I'm an iPhone user myself, but I'm planning to jump to Android. Sounds like we're all still in flux. Hmm.

We'll swap reviews.

Moving on: What's the best use of SM you've seen -- either at your company or someone else's?

Jaguar and Land Rover are only a year into SM. I think our best work is our blogs page, followed by Twitter...

With the blogs (Jaguar and Land Rover), we're able to tell our story in a unique and dynamic way...

We send the blog posts to 1,000s of journalists who have the ability to interact directly with the brands...

The communications team launched @InteractiveJag and @InteractiveLR last summer...

Customers/enthusiasts who follow on Twitter see the new blog is up, and they can interact with the brand directly...

The communications team hasn't been able to compete with other brands when it comes to producing consistently engaging content...

and building mass audiences on Facebook, but we look to correct that very soon.

Do you think that's because of the demographic that JLR serves? Or is it due to something else?

The demographics definitely play a role. With SM you're casting a wide net. Who's to say our followers or fans are luxury car buyers?...

It's more about Jaguar Land Rover building an online community of both enthusiasts and customers.

Agreed. I think FB and the like are mostly about building big-base brand awareness that can trickle over/up to future buyers.

I look forward to putting more muscle behind Facebook.

Before I let you go, do you have any parting thoughts about the future of SM -- where it's going and how it'll be useful to you?

I see SM being nearly level with email, as it's at its best when there is complete transparency...

I see it leveraging GPS-based apps to connect users and brands even more…

@ScottDeYager recently talked about social commerce where communities define future products and services...

I can see it happening for the improvement of brands on some level.

Well, when you figure it out, please let us know. Maybe we can save the interwebs before it becomes MySpace 2.0. Thanks again for your time, Leah.

Thanks Richard!

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