GM: Poster child for the executive blog

Since General Motors began the GM FastLane Blog in early January, it’s attracted considerable attention from business communicators. That attention has been sparked by who the bloggers are – senior corporate executives, starting with GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz.

The blog’s been under a continuous spotlight with a great deal of ongoing commentary and opinion in the blogosphere on its effectiveness as a communication tool, and analytical comment on just about every post.

There’s even been some commentary recently on why GM haven’t been talking about broader issues, eg, corporate financials or employment matters.

GM made it pretty clear from the outset that the primary purpose of the blog is to engage with customers and car enthusiasts about one topic – GM’s cars. And they have stuck to that goal. Judging from the many comments to every post, that’s what visitors want to talk to GM about. Indeed, just about the only comments that aren’t about the subject matter of a particular post are those by communicators commenting about the blog or the podcasts.

In a post yesterday, Bob Lutz made it even clearer what GM is trying to achieve with the blog, what they will continue to do with it, and his own role with the blog:

What began as an experiment has become an important means of communication for GM. It has given me, personally, an opportunity to get much closer with you, the public. Often, I find your comments insightful and compelling. At times your criticism is harsh. But the fact that you have remained interested and continue to have faith in our efforts to develop great products is a worthy motivator.

Questions have been raised as to whether I will continue to be involved in FastLane given my re-focused responsibilities. The answer is an unequivocal "yes." From its inception this blog has been a forum for GM’s leadership to discuss important issues with a spotlight on product… product plans, product virtues and truths. In fact, I hope to see more GM leaders begin to engage in this conversation on the FastLane over the coming weeks.

We hear your words loud and clear. We’re redoubling our efforts to build great cars and trucks and we’ll continue to talk about them, right here.

What’s especially impressive is here is one of the most senior and influential corporate leaders in any industry who clearly sees that his investment of time and energy into regularly and consistently writing in a public blog and engaging in dialog with visitors has huge potential benefits in building relationships with a wide range of very interested (and often vocal and critical) people.

No matter what size organization, and whether commercial or not-for-profit, every CEO – and corporate communicator – should take a close look at the GM FastLane Blog. See what’s easily possible for you. It will help you understand how communication channels like these can be so powerful in supporting business goals. Look at the blog itself – a simple structure that, while clearly GM-branded, looks and feels like most other blogs out there (contrast it with the slick and typically-corporate GM website).

Get hold of a free copy of Trust “MEdia”: How Real People Are Finally Being Heard (PDF), a new white paper from PR group Edelman and marketing intelligence firm Intelliseek. That will give you some up-to-date evidence about the reach and influence of this new communication channel.

Then you can say, "If Bob Lutz can do it, so can I."

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