Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Blogs = Dialogue

In my work in New Media Communications at GM I frequently read and comment on various blog posts. I've learned a great deal about blogging and how it can best be used. One of the biggest lessons I've learned in regards to blogging is that blogging is a unique type of media in that it allows for organizations to create meaningful dialogue. I suppose I always thought of blogging as another way for an organization to "get it's message out there," but this assumption runs counter to what public relations should be all about: generating two-way communication between an audience and its publics.

Blogging differs from traditional media, such as newspapers and broadcast news, in that it provides a forum for an organization to not only tell it's news, but to get feedback from its publics as well. Blogs allow organizations to understand what their publics (including customers) are thinking and what they want; a luxury not easily available with traditional media. By way of measurement, perhaps organizations can assess their relationship with publics by measuring not just the number of blog posts about the organization, but what comments people are making in response to these posts.

Blogs are, and will continue to be, an extremely imporant media that public relations practitioners cannot afford to ignore, but if abused they can greatly hinder an organization's PR efforts.

Monday, May 21, 2007


I have recently been reading Trust or Consequences by Al Golin (2004). The basic thrust of the book so far has been the need for organizations to build trust with their stakeholders or face negative consequences for not doing so. One concept Golin introduces in this book is a "trust bank." Golin developed this term (trust bank) to "describe how deposits of goodwill can serve a company well when it faces a crisis or other negative news" (Golin, 2). The book then outlines various reasons why organizations need to establish a trust bank and how to do it.

It is important to note that "trust directly impacts an organization's success and profits" (Public Relations Practices: Managerial Case Studies and Practices. Center, Allen & Jackson, Patrick. Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2003).

While I agree completely with the above statements, I have to wonder if actively working to establish a trust bank for the purpose of increased profits and success is ethical. Perhaps I'm too altruistic or naive, but I believe an organization should want to build trust simply for the sake of building trust. Having ulterior motives in building trust is, in my opinion, not trustworthy (for lack of a better term). Imagine how a group of stakeholders might react if they found out their organization has embarked on an active trust-building campaign (as Golin suggests doing in this book) simply to increase revenue. I don't imagine it would go over too well.

I believe organizations should work to maintain and increase the trust of its stakeholders, but only for altruistic purposes. Organizations should be a good corporate citizen simply because that is the right thing to do. That, in my opinion, is the best way to build trust.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The World of Corporate Communications

This past Monday I embarked upon the biggest career move of my life so far: an internship at General Motors Corp. I have been assigned to work on the Social Media team for GM at the headquarters here in Detroit. It has been an absolutely overwhelming, yet amazing experience so far. I'm definitely a very small fish in a very large pond.

I have been most impressed with the kindness that has been exhibited to me by everyone here. They truly know how to make a brand new intern feel welcome and comfortable. I feel like they are giving me the red carpet treatment. I have no problem asking some of the higher-ranking leaders here for advice and counsel. They have all been very supportive.

I have also been impressed with the immensity of GM's communications department. We had a meeting yesterday for all the North American communications people. There were more than 200 people there! GM has segmented its communications approaches to a number of different areas: labor relations, parts and supply chain communications, plant communications, corporate communications, social media, media relations, etc. GM is truly a company that knows how to communicate with its numerous and varied publics.

On a side note, I just have to write about what we did yesterday. After the meeting we all drove up to the Milford Proving Grounds, an enormous site where GM does all of its vehicle testing. The purpose of our visit? To drive alot of the new 2007 vehicles. I drove so many cars yesterday. I drove the new GMC Sierra truck, a Hummer H3 and H2, a Saab 9.5, a Cadillac Escalade, GMC Acadia (very nice), Saturn Aura Hybrid (which won the North American Car of the Year Award for 2007) and the Pontiac G6 convertible. The highlight, however, was driving a 2007 Chevy Corvette Z06 and an '07 Cadillac XLR. The pickup on those cars is exhilarating. I got both of them up to 90 mph in just a matter of seconds. I also had the chance to drive a Hummer on a course designed to highlight all that a Hummer is capable of. It was amazing.

I think I'm going to enjoy my time here at GM. :)