GM Europe launches social media newsroom

When you think of General Motors and social media, you tend to think of the FastLane Blog and GM vice chairman and corporate blogger-in-chief, Bob Lutz.

GM were pioneers when FastLane launched in January 2005, setting a standard for the measurable benefits of executive blogging and directly engaging with customers.

Indeed, GM became the early poster child for corporate blogging.

GM in the US continues to embrace social media, deepening its reach with additional blogs such as the FYI Blog, a channel for “the many voices of GM’s employees and friends and attempts to put a human face on our diverse activities,” as the blog describes its goal.

One thing GM hasn’t done is extend its public social media reach into the heart of traditional communication such as online resources for reporters and others interested in GM and its business which are designed for direct social engagement.

GM Europe, though, has done exactly that with the launch last week of the GM Europe Social Media Newsroom.

This new online resource for journalists and PRs from GM’s European subsidiaries offers a library of press releases and other media information about GM’s brands in Europe – Cadillac, Corvette, Saab, Hummer, Opel, Vauxhall and Chevrolet – on a website that’s designed for engagement and for sharing.

Every release or article is comment- and trackback-enabled so, just as with a blog, you can tell GM Europe your opinion about any of the content on the site, either directly on the site or linked from your own blog or website.

The site has RSS feeds so you can easily subscribe to the content and comments. You can save or post any press release or news article to any one of over 30 popular social bookmarking and sharing sites including Digg, del.icio.us, Facebook, Newsvine and StumbleUpon.

And there are links to GM photos – the company’s and well as those taken by GM customers and fans – on Flickr and to GM videos on YouTube.

Quite a comprehensive social offering for the media, not to mention PRs and interested bloggers.

About the only thing needed to make this resource really compelling is offering press releases as social media releases. Maybe that’s to come.

It’s quite interesting to also note that the site provides all content under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license, meaning you can use, adapt and share any of the content under the terms of that license.

And unlike the US-focused GM Media Center, the GM Europe Social Media Newsroom requires no registration – it’s openly available on the internet.

I do like the site’s strapline:

Product news and downloads for the online reporter

I’d say that description extends well beyond traditional mainstream media reporters. Wouldn’t you?

A great move by GM Europe, one that I would find valuable if I were an automotive journalist, PR or blogger (and I do find it valuable as an interested communicator). As far as I can tell, no other major car manufacturer offers anything similar.

Could be another pioneering step from a company that continues to innovate in social communication.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Dominic Jones

    Hi Neville,

    Really interesting to see this. So are European companies getting the blog bug? You know I’ve always said corporate Europe is far ahead on web comms, but I thought perhaps social media would tip the scales in favor of the US.

    Anyway, nice write up. But I’m not convinced on the social media release. At least not yet. I keep thinking to myself: “Why are we doing the SMR. Because one ex-FT journalist said he didn’t like traditional releases?”

    Do you know of any research with journalists and bloggers that says there’s actually real demand for the SMR? Of course, I suspect there’s lots of evidence traditional releases aren’t effective. But is there evidence to suggest that the SMR would be any more effective, other than for parsing by machine?

    I figured you’d know if there was.

  2. neville

    Thanks Dominic.

    I don’t know of any research re social media news releases that indicates a real demand for them. But that shouldn’t mean there isn’t a demand even if much of what you see out there about them at the moment is talked about by evangelical PRs. I do think the concept is worth exploring.

    Personally, I find them very useful as a resource from which I can easily identify at a glance the story elements I’m interested in, so making it easier to copy-and-paste if that’s what I want to do. Plus get at rich media content that you don’t typically get with a traditional press release.

    Social media releases aren’t designed for parsing by machine, more parsing by humans. But machine parsing is a logical development once it gets going.

    It’s very early days, though. I’ve yet to see a large company (GM, for instance) issue one. Plus I think a standard format hasn’t yet been arrived at.

    All it really needs is an adventurous PR to do it in combination with the usual communication. There’s effectively no monetary cost involved.

    Even if only a handful of journos find that useful, that’s good enough. Little acorns, etc. And after all, social media isn’t about the numbers.

  3. neville

    And a pretty good start, too.

    Yes, it is missing elements from that social media newsroom template. That’s a good concept which presents some terrific ideas on one way to see how the online newsroom could be structured in the near future.

    I think Shift’s template presents an ideal that is unlikely to be possible for many companies yet. It needs a risk-taking approach especially if it means a wholesale change from the traditional (and safe) to something unproven (and risky). You know that such risk-taking in PR is not a strong point with many large corporations.

    GM Europe’s effort is a good compromise step – a bridge between the old and the new. It certainly is an advance forward.

    I’m watching how it develops and evolves.

  4. Dominic Jones

    I think I see Shel represented in one of the icons in the newsroom template. On the right, green hair and a beard. Shel?

    That template reminds me of a Web 2.0 logo collage. Kind of overwhelming with so many options, many of which I had to think “okay, so what would that do?”

    But I can see the utility of a lot of it. On the GM one, am I the only one who still doesn’t quite get the tag cloud concept? What does that show?

    Neville, I take your points on it being more convenient for you personally. I’ve never used one so I can’t comment on what its like. But I guess if the information is there in the structure you want, it’s an improvement.

    I’m more interested in the machine readable version just because it has trading applications.

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