Auto Engineers Embrace Digital & Social Media to Gauge Industry Trends Amid Changing Media Landscape

DETROIT – November 5, 2015 – Research released today from leading global communications and engagement firm Weber Shandwick finds that the majority of automotive engineers (61%) turn to social media and online channels to stay current on industry trends and product news amid the changing media landscape. Auto engineers are also consuming more information than they ever have before. More than 50% of engineers report using social media, blogs/online forums, live events and word-of-mouth resources more now than they did three years ago. Even with varied means of communication, 89% of automotive engineers still rely on some form of word-of-mouth communication – from conferences, industry peers and/or professional organizations – as their primary source for the latest industry news and information.

“We know that the auto industry is empirical and deeply rooted in relationships,” said Janet Tabor, executive vice president, Weber Shandwick. “But the ways in which people discover, digest and share information is changing. Relationships can now be built and fostered over social networks, for example. Our study explores the use of social and digital channels by engineers and the influence these platforms have on the collective ‘show me, don’t tell me’ mindset of the industry.”

Engaging Today’s Automotive Engineers: How to Reach Those Powering Us Forward is a report by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research in partnership with SAE International. Based on an in-person survey of more than 500 automotive engineers at the latest SAE World Congress, the study involved participants who varied in age, industry experience, education, engineering profession and career level, representing original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers.

Engagement Value at Conferences

Whether it’s through speaking, exhibiting, technical papers distributed at events or networking, companies should consider leveraging their presence at conferences to better engage with automotive engineers, who listed conferences as one of their primary sources of information (66%).

“At their core, engineers are problem solvers and will seek answers from every available resource,” said Frank Menchaca, chief product officer, SAE International. “It’s consistent with this mindset that they would embrace all available communication channels that provide relevant and useful information.” 

These findings are also consistent with The CEO Reputation Premium: Gaining Advantage in the Engagement Era, a study conducted by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research that identified the importance of executive and corporate visibility at industry, trade and leadership events. More than eight in 10 global executives (82%) rank conferences and events at the top of the list of external engagement activities in which their company should partake.

Continued Growth Opportunities among Millennials

When it comes to communication amongst Millennial automotive engineers, social media and digital channels are areas of growth. Social media channels are perceived as the second highest credible source of information for Millennial automotive engineers, trailing only direct communications with automotive suppliers. LinkedIn is the most important social media channel to connect with colleagues and obtain news, according to the study.

“As communicators, it’s important to integrate content across a variety of channels,” Tabor said. “With LinkedIn serving as a newer form of word-of-mouth communication, companies should consider their employees as another way to distribute information and advocate for the brand.”

YouTube was reported as the second highest rated social media channel in terms of providing benefits to automotive engineers, particularly for the platform’s wealth of product and technology video demos. Nearly half (48%) of the automotive engineers surveyed prefer to view information through video.

For more insights into the changing landscape for this audience, click here to view the Engaging Today’s Automotive Engineers: How to Reach Those Powering Us Forward report.

About The Research

Weber Shandwick and KRC Research conducted an in-person survey of more than 500 automotive engineers at SAE World Congress, organized by SAE International. Survey participants varied in age, industry experience, education, engineering profession and career level, and they represented original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers.

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About KRC Research

KRC Research is a full-service market research firm that specializes in the kind of research needed for effective communications—communications that reach, engage and persuade. A unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG), KRC Research offers the quality and custom service of a small firm along with the reach of a global organization. For over 30 years, KRC Research has worked on behalf of corporations, governments, not-for-profits and the communications firms that represent them. Staffed with market research professionals from the worlds of political campaigns, consumer marketing, journalism and academia, we are flexible, practical, creative, knowledgeable and fast, combining sophisticated research tools with real-world communications experience. For more information, visit

About SAE International

SAE International is a global association of more than 138,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries. SAE International’s core competencies are life-long learning and voluntary consensus standards development. SAE International’s charitable arm is the SAE Foundation, which supports many programs, including A World In Motion® and the Collegiate Design Series. For more information, visit


Weber Shandwick

Weber Shandwick

Staff Editor
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