By Arun Sudhaman

TOKYO: Nissan has become the latest corporation to unveil an in-house “content unit”, hiring a veteran Reuters journalist to take charge of the new function.

Dan Sloan joins the carmaker in Tokyo as editor-in-chief, departing his position as senior correspondent for Reuters Television. He will oversee Nissan’s news center, reporting to corporate VP of global marketing communications Simon Sproule.

Sloan’s hire follows Nissan’s decision to integrate its marketing and PR functions. “The idea is we finally get into the business of killing press releases and writing stories,” said Sproule. “Not just creating a narrative but also content to go with it, and hiring producers, writers, videographers and webmasters.”

Nissan’s move follows in the footsteps of automotive rival Ford, which has set up a ‘content factory’ under global communications VP Ray Day.

“Effectively we are setting ourselves up as both an information source, but also as a rival to the media,” said Sproule. “The bottom line is we want to break interesting news about our company.”

Sloan joins Nissan after 16 years with Reuters in Asia, including a stint as bureau chief in Singapore.

Nissan’s news center will create a variety of content – including video and digital – for different channels, including PR, marketing, investor relations, events and motorshows. Sproule added that the unit will house as many as 15 staff globally, including freelancers.

“Our sense is people want to form relationships with brands and, if we can engage them, we’ll have half a chance of success.”

Sproule shifted into his new role at Nissan after heading global comms for the Renault-Nissan Alliance in Paris. He has spent 18 years in the automotive industry, interrupted by a short stint as Microsoft’s global corporate comms chief in 2009.