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SGMW New Year Honours 2021: The Current Leaders In A Challenging Race

SGMW New Year Honours 2021 - The Current Leaders In A Challenging Race

In 2020, motor industry journalists and PR professionals alike probably faced their most challenging year ever.

So, any nominee in the race for the Southern Group of Motoring Writers’ New Year Honours List 2021 – awards for the best motoring PR operators and star cars of 2020 – should be regarded as extra special this time.

And while there are still some nominations to come from the 29 SGMW members, we already have potential winners in the seven industry categories to be announced on January 1 2020.

Along with some members’ comments on why they should win, those leading runners and riders are:

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:

Mike Arnold (Press Fleet Manager – PSA)

Having succeeded Craig Morrow as PSA press fleet manager – a hard act to follow – Mike has got to grips with a tough job quickly and is maintaining Craig’s high standards.

Simon Broome (PR Manager – Citroën)

“Moving from the product team, Simon has hit the ground running and can’t do enough for you.”

Chloe Yemm (Press Relations Manager – FCA)

Chloe is no stranger to us, but her move to FCA is brilliant for both parties – she is an experienced operator with great people skills.

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:

Simon Branney (Head of PR – Honda)

He never ceases to amaze me with his dynamic approach to PR…and his ability to shock.

Erica Haddon (Manager, PR Operations – Toyota)

The beauty and brains alongside Scott Brownlee. A supreme organiser who makes all the launches work, gets the motoring writers there and back and is totally unflappable and a great friend. Toyota Group’s unsung hero.

Dan Sayles (Head of Press & PR – Kia)

The lynchpin in one of the best PR outfits going – proven by previous NY Honours wins.”

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


Small is beautiful” and “Consistently good, despite being a team of two and presumably master (and mistress) of one of the smaller PR budgets.”


Simon (Branney) and John (O’Brien) made a sterling effort this year under difficult circumstances. The two launches post lockdown No1 – Jazz Hybrid and Honda e – were so innovative given the circumstances.


John Handcock is the leader and shaper of a great team of people.

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:

BMW Group

BMW did extremely well in carrying out their socially-distanced full-on range review at Bicester” and “A return to form – at last.”


Suzuki’s simple idea to run a cheese and wine tasting evening social event via Zoom was really well executed – a lot of fun.


For the Honda e and the ‘drive in movie’ presentation – a novel idea that also worked well in practice.

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

Toyota GR Yaris

A brave car for the hybrid pioneer and in a difficult time, but one set to become a cult motor – a world rally car for the road.

Skoda Octavia

Of the new Golf/Leon/Octavia trio, the Octavia is by far the easiest to live with – and easiest on the pocket too.

 Polestar 2

Polestar’s first family car looks terrific and promises to be a great ownership proposition.”

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

Ford Mustang Mach-E

It’s not easy to reinterpret the Mustang’s dynamic essence in an SUV body but Ford’s design team have nailed it.”

FIAT 500

The new version of Fiat’s icon is now all-electric, with an improved interior, and a more striking exterior and interior.

SGMW Car of the Year

Ford Puma

While some may object to the Puma name being used on an SUV, it shows great innovation in the boot, and it’s roomy and great to drive. Exactly what Ford is known for.

Honda e

A well-thought out, fun-to-drive urban electric car. Highly loaded with technology and strikingly designed. It might lack the long range of some rivals but has desirability in spades.” 

Peugeot 208

Looks great, desirable, and relevant while also introducing and electric powertrain to this supermini range, to cover all the bases.

SGMW Chairman Ian Robertson said: “SGMW members have reviewed a fourth awards year that has been by far the most unusual and challenging thanks to Covid-19, so those of our PR counterparts who went the extra yard and those new cars that shone amidst all other media distractions, really do deserve to be in the running for an SGMW New Year Honour.

We also added an eighth award last year, the Group’s Southern Star, for 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 2021, when I’m sure we will all hope to ‘motor’ back to normality over the coming year.

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