General Motors launched a new blog yesterday, the FYI Blog.
In an introductory post, GM’s director of new media, Michael Wiley, outlined how GM intends this new blog to complement the current FastLane Blog (written by senior executives led by chief blogger, vice chairman Bob Lutz), and what the new blog will focus on:
- Cool Stuff – Stories about innovations; product, technology, facilities and manufacturing
- Our People – Profiles of GM employees and their unique jobs, careers, etc
- News – Good News stories, including items that you may otherwise never hear about
- Opinions – GM op/ed pieces intended to shed light on issues in the news
- Guest Voices – Blog entries written by third parties who are not GM employees
Wiley said that the FYI Blog “provides an opportunity for all GM employees to contribute in one way or another.”
While the new blog will no doubt attract critical comment by GM observers who seem to see underhand PR practice behind corporate blogs, I think GM has earned significant credibility with how they use social media (blogs and podcasts) as a means for genuine engagement with people.
So there’s good reason to view the FYI Blog as an extension of a communication strategy intended to further the objectives demonstrated by FastLane – develop another unfiltered voice that’s in engagement with a broad audience – including employees – to spread the conversation about GM and its products and services.
And I’d say it’s a good tactical move among other communication activity to help change peopleâ€™s perceptions about GM, as Bob Lutz noted in a FastLane post early last month.
A bold move, one that I think deserves success. Time will tell.
- FIR interview with Michael Wiley, 22 February 2005
Neville – Thanks for pointing this out. I’m not sure if I would call this new move bold, but I would call it smart.
[…] New GM blog launches The General Motors FYI Blog will contain stories about innovations, products, technology, facilities and manufacturing. […]
Bold, Kevin, as in stepping out with a new place that will broaden the conversations at a time when the spotlight is on GM as it struggles with signficant issues in the marketplace.
So how about bold and smart?
Unfiltered? Really? It reads like marketing copy.
I’ll reserve final judgement until it gets rolling but so far, I’m not feeling transparency, self-awareness/self-criticism, authenticity.
I hope they change my mind, but so far, I don’t feel it.
Heather, ‘unfiltered’ refers to FastLane – that has an established track record. The FYI Blog hasn’t yet got its credentials clear. Like you, I’m keeping an open mind until it gets rolling.
But I’m willing to give it every benefit of the doubt based on the FastLane credentials.
Hmm, I kind of see them both the same. Here’s my test: if they reveal something self-critical before the media does (meaning they don’t discuss it as a response to someone else bringing it up), then I’ll be satisfied. I’m a tough cusomter, I guess.
Heh! You must have your Microsoft hat on :)
But you have a good point. It’s interesting looking at FYI just now, with the third post by Sharon Morton in GM Communications. Now I don’t know what Sharon’s actual job is there but it might be reasonable to assume that she’s in PR. Gosh! A PR person writing on the blog!
It’s not a bad post if you consider it from the point of view of a very different voice speaking for the first time. Where it could be interesting (along the lines of your satisfaction measure) is seeing how Sharon reponds to the one comment I see there at the moment asking the type of question you’d usually expect a rather, shall we say, canned answer from PR in any company.
If a response comes in a way that engages with the commenter, that could lead to a conversation. Then I would really sit up and pay attention.
Still very early days for FYI, but isn’t that a good measure of how really effective – unfiltered – a blog like FYI could be?
Southwest and GM Employees join the blogosphere…
Two of the big boys are finally hopping in, and it seems like one gets it and one…not so much. General Motors, who in the past year (see: FastLane and Tahoe ads) has established that they are not afraid of the wild world of new media, has launched a …
Yep, I agree. So far, still just marketing speak.
I’m wondering if the public (not necessarily the blog savvy public) is just so used to being talked to that way by companies (and maybe by politicians, too?) that they don’t notice the difference. I mean, I notice, but mostly because I can see the difference between a blog voice and copy.
I think I have a predisposition to fight back when I feel like someone is talking down to me. I was going to say I was more of a “glass half empty” person, but really, if I’d seen what I felt was a real attempt to engage with, rather than speak at, the readers, I would have applauded the effort. Right now, the combination of the tone, and the fact that the bloggers all happen to be in their marketing department makes me uneasy.
It also makes me wonder if some marketers, at least those focused on messaging, are conditioned to communicate in this way (meaning it’s a behavior learned through years of experience). Don’t get me wrong….I love marketers..I make my living hiring them. But messaging is messaging and a conversation is a conversation. They aren’t necessarily the same thing. You don’t need to be a marketer to blog effectively. Marketers who do have to adjust their voice to the medium. Messaging disguised as a conversation looks like, well, it looks like these GM blogs.
I think that GM gets recognition for the fact that they have set up these “blogs” at all, but I’m still waiting for the *real* conversations to start. I’d love to see them admit something..anything; be self-critical. I’d like to see them say something that doesn’t directly benefit their brand. I’d also like to see more of the reading public question the message (see what kind of authority issues I have?).
Heather, I think GM is still finding its feet with the FYI blog. Or rather, GM’s people are. Quite a few posts during the past week, all by employees with different roles at the company. Many different voices.
I’d say those employees themselves who write those posts perhaps aren’t accustomed to this kind of informal expression, so the relative formal ways of expression which is what they are used to (what anyone who writes anything in any corporate environment is used to) comes across as still a bit stilted. So they need to adjust and I’m sure that will happen over time as they get more confident and practiced.
What I’ve found quite interesting is how comments have begun to develop in some of the posts. Unlike the FastLane blog, we have some of the employees who write the posts also commenting in the comments. That adds a great deal of credibility and a feeling of real participation, ie, not just writing posts and that’s it. They are actually participating. So some conversations are beginning to start.
Also, take a look at the new Southwest Airlines blog which launched this week. Lots of employees will be posting there, they say. The place looks a bit sterile at the moment, but it’s only just started. Perhaps this, like FYI, is how many companies will look like in the blogosphere when they first get started. It’s a big step for many companies and I can guess there’s a lot riding on such moves (I’m thinking of the reputations and careers of the employees who are the champions of such public adventures).
So lots of walking in the dark a bit. With a flashlight, perhaps, but no detailed map! They can follow the experiences of the early-adopter trailblazers over the past 18 months or so, learn from some of the mistakes we’ve seen, but there is no cookie-cut template, no one-size-fits-all. They have the technology and the means; the rest is up to them to make as good or as bad a job of it. People will certainly tell them what they think.