Sinead McCann is the car reviewer and content editor at CarsIreland.ie, one of Ireland’s leading car sales websites. Sinead has helped to establish CarsIreland as a destination for car video reviews of new and used cars. She has filmed over 150 video reviews for the CarsIreland YouTube channel, making it a great resource for anyone buying a car in Ireland. In this interview, Sinead gives us a behind the scenes look at her job reviewing cars and making videos!
1. Tell us about your work at CarsIreland.
I look after the new car content for our website and YouTube channel. My main role is in video production and I specialise in creating video reviews of all the latest models on the market. So I review cars, basically! I know that sounds like a dream job, and a lot of the time it is, but I promise it’s not always as glamourous as it sounds. I film, research and edit everything myself which while very rewarding, is not without its challenges. Giving people advice on such a big purchase is a huge responsibility.
I collect my test cars on a Monday and typically film at the end of the week, once I’ve spent some time with it and figured out what I think is good and not so good. The rest of my week is spent in CarsIreland headquarters editing, uploading, writing, planning and brainstorming for the next video or feature. I try to make them as entertaining as I can. The site has recently expanded, so it’s an exciting time for us we develop the new review section of our site and I work as part of an amazing team.
2. What led you to this role making videos and reviewing cars?
I always had an interest in cars. But funnily enough it’s not something I ever thought I’d end up working in. I suppose it was unusual being a girl into cars in my teens, and it was only when my petrol-headed brother-in-law arrived on the scene around that time that I had someone to go to car shows with that I got really into it. He helped me choose my first car, and got me interested in the mechanics of it all. My favourite thing to do became stalking car sales sites for anything rare or unusual (or just really fast). I was always fascinated, but I just saw it as a hobby.
Career-wise, I wanted to be a journalist. Writing was my first love, but over the years that evolved into story-telling in other formats – video being my favourite. It never really occurred to me that I could combine the two. I got my degree in Journalism, travelled a bit, then ended up working in a car showroom while I figured out what I wanted to do. Then the role in CarsIreland came along. It actually started as a temporary project – linking all the cars on the site to existing video reviews. While doing so I noticed a big gap in the market for certain very popular used models that had come out before the whole YouTube thing really happened. So being young and probably a bit too brave for my own good, I put my hand up to make them myself. I went out that day armed with some very amateur kit, borrowed a car (my Mam’s Micra – it’s still up there, please don’t watch it) and from there began working my way through all the most popular used cars that people were searching for, borrowing cars from dealers and wherever I could get them really. It was another couple of years of tremendously valuable experience, and not a bit glam I promise! I spent a good two years reviewing twenty-year-old Almeras in carparks before the new stuff came along. But there was a market for it and people engaged. Once the older stuff was done, we decided to branch into the new car market and the site took off in a big way as a resource for all car buyers. So that’s where we are now, still growing and expanding all the time, and I’m really excited to be a part of it.
3. What do you like about your job?
I love every bit of it. I am tremendously lucky to be able to do what I do for a living. I think one of my favourite things is the diversity. Every day is different. And it’s not the obvious things either, like getting to drive these amazing new cars. I mean it’s a massive perk, obviously, but that’s not what it’s all about. Likewise, the travel aspect. Some car launches are in these really amazing locations and it is great to get to visit places that you otherwise might not have got the chance to. But at the end of the day, you are there to do a job and it’s not like you spend the time sight-seeing. I’m sure anyone who travels for work will relate. What I do love is that I can be of help to people in making what can be a really tough decision. There’s a sense of accomplishment in creating something from start to finish and especially when you get good feedback and see the channel grow. I especially love when people contact me to tell me that I helped them to make their minds up, and even more so when they are really happy with that decision.
4. What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
Every job has challenges. You could be a professional chocolate taster and still not feel like work sometimes! That’s what I tell myself when I’m having an off day. I suppose one of the hardest things is going on camera and trying to be positive and upbeat when it’s the last thing you feel like doing.
I suppose there can be challenging aspects to being a female in this role, but not as much as you might expect. At first I did feel like I had to work harder to prove myself. I was terrified of making a mistake, for example. I was afraid if I did, people would jump on it and think that it was because I was a woman, and we’re not supposed to know about cars, are we? I suppose it made me a meticulous fact checker, and that’s not a bad thing. But to be honest, I needn’t have worried, and bar the odd sexist idiot commenting on YouTube, I have been treated with nothing but respect by my audience, and the the vast, vast majority of the people I work with in this industry.
On a sillier note, and I know Caroline will relate to this a fellow one-woman show, another challenge can be trying to remain camera-ready while wrestling with equipment on a wet and windy day. That can be a real struggle! Those are the days I wish I was a guy, or had a hair and make-up team with me. One can dream!
5. What’s been your most memorable experience to date as a car reviewer?
My most memorable experience was probably my first international press trip. It was the International Motor Show in Frankfurt in 2015. The biggest car show I’d been to before that was the Terenure Vintage & Classic! So the sheer magnitude of that was mind-blowing to me. Another memorable one was when Tesla came to Ireland a few months back. A day spent behind the wheel of the Model S and Model X was just such a surreal experience. It felt like a real glimpse into the future of motoring. They are special cars.
6. Anything strange or amusing ever happen on location?
Too many things to mention. I’ve gotten stuck in the back of many a car while trying to film a centre console – child locks can be adult-proof too sometimes! I also had a passer-by stop me one day when I was out filming a car. He asked if I wanted his sheep dogs to be in the video because they could ‘do tricks and things, sit on the bonnet, and maybe behind the wheel’. He was deadly serious too. I got a great laugh out of that, and as a dog lover, I can’t say I wasn’t sorely tempted to take him up on it. I still have his card in fact. Stay tuned.
7. What was your first car?
My first car was a 1999 Opel Corsa, dinged down the side by a shopping trolley (not me), in aqua blue. My pride and joy.
8. How would you describe your driving style?
I’m in general quite a cautious driver. I’m not a speed demon at all. I absolutely love driving, don’t get me wrong, but give me a nice twisty B-road over a long boring motorway any day.
9. What would be in your dream three car garage?
I’ll have a Tesla Model S P100D please. Then the car I dreamed of owning way before I started all this, is the SEAT Ibiza Cupra. It was one of my very first press cars and despite all the stuff I’ve driven in between I still have a huge grá for that car. I really hope they make a new one. Then I’ll finish off with a bit of vintage pocket power – a Volkswagen Lupo GTI.
10. Favourite driving song?
Shotgun Mouthwash by High Contrast. Suits every road and every mood.