FIR Interview: Chris Preuss, GM Europe, on ‘Driving Conversations’ – May 20, 2008

One of the earliest adopters of social media for a strategic business communication purpose is General Motors, whose FastLane blog began in January 2005.

FastLane has been said by Bob Lutz, founding blogger and the company’s Vice Chairman, to be an indispensible communication channel, an unfiltered voice for the company, its customers and auto enthusiasts.

On May 20, 2008, GM Europe launched Driving Conversations, the latest step in the company’s close embrace of social media to support its broad business and communication objectives.

‘Driving Conversations’ is a new executive blog designed to be a place where GM leadership, led by GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster, can discuss products, issues and corporate performance from a personal perspective.

In this exclusive FIR Interview, Neville Hobson joined in conversation with Chris Preuss, Vice President Communications at GM Europe, to talk about ‘Driving Conversations’ in the broad context of the rapidly-changing auto market across Europe and into Russia, the company’s goals for the new blog, cultural issues in Europe, and some tips for FIR listeners who may be considering a business blog for their own organizations.

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About our Conversation Partner

Chrispreuss
J. Christopher (Chris) Preuss was named Vice President, Communications, for GM Europe on February 1, 2008. In this capacity, he is responsible for all external and internal communications activities for GM’s European operations, including the Saab, Opel, Vauxhall and Chevrolet brands. He also serves as a member of the Europe Strategy Board. Chris is based at GM Europe’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. He also continues to direct communications activities for GM’s Global Product Development organization.

Chris is a member of the Environment Strategy Board as well as GM’s Communications Strategy Board. He also works as a Communications advisor for GM Group Vice President and President GM Europe, Carl-Peter Forster, as well as GM’s Vice Chairman, Robert A. Lutz.

Preuss began his career at the Campbell and Company agency in 1989 with a focus on motor sports marketing and PR. From there, he joined DMB&B Advertising as an account supervisor on GM Corporate and Cadillac Division public relations accounts in 1990. Having worked on a variety of product and promotional programs at DMB&B, Preuss then moved to Golin Harris Communications of Chicago as an Account Director on Chrysler Corporation business in 1992. He was hired directly by Chrysler in 1993 and worked in several jobs within Chrysler’s Communications department, including the Washington office, until being hired by GM in 1998 as Director of Cadillac Division Communications. From 2001, Preuss served as the Director of Product Development Communications, before being named Director of Government Policy and Washington Communications in 2002. In May 2006, he was appointed GM Executive Director of Global Product and Brand Communications.

Chris Preuss holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Political Science from Michigan State University, Michigan, USA.

If you have comments or questions about this podcast, or suggestions for future interviews, email us at fircomments@gmail.com; or call the Comment Line at +1 206 222 2803 (North America) or +44 20 8133 9844 (Europe); or Skype: fircomments; or comment at Twitter: twitter.com/FIR; or at Jaiku: fir.jaiku.com. You can email your comments, questions and suggestions as MP3 file attachments, if you wish (max. 3 minutes / 5Mb attachment, please!). We’ll be happy to see how we can include your audio contribution in a show.

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This FIR Interview is brought to you with Lawrence Ragan Communications, serving communicators worldwide for 35 years. Information: www.ragan.com.

Podsafe music – On A Podcast Instrumental Mix (MP3, 5Mb) by Cruisebox.

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

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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.

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