Monday, June 11, 2007

Interacting With Bloggers

This blog seems to be morphing into more of a commentary on social media, but, hey, that's what I'm immersed in now, and it is a vital part of public relations.

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to participate in a news conference for Challenge X, an event co-sponsored by GM. Given that Challenge X is a contest for college teams to create more fuel-efficient and decreased emissions engines for the Chevy Equinox, the Social Media Team here at GM decided to invite a group of "green" bloggers to attend the event and news conference. Our guest bloggers included Sam Abuelsamid from AutoBlogGreen, Phillip Proefrock from GreenOptions/EcoGeek, Matt Mayer from Groovy Green . Lyle Dennis from Chevy-Volt Forum, Matt Kelly from NextGear and Todd Kaho from Green Car Journal.

It was interesting to note the differences between interaction with social media and the traditional media. GM brought the bloggers out to Michigan to participate in the events at Challenge X and to attend the news conference where this year's winners were announced. Following the news conference and driving activity the bloggers had the opportunity to sit down with Micky Bly, director of GM Hybrid Intergration, and ask him questions about GM's efforts in alternative propulsion. Later that evening the bloggers joined us for dinner with an engineer and scientist from GM, and were able to ask more questions about energy diversity, the Chevy Volt concept and other topics.

One thing I noticed about the bloggers was how passionate they were about the subjects they write on. The entire conversation at dinner was focused on cars and cars only. There was no small talk! The bloggers all seemed to be very down-to-earth and grateful to be included in this event. More than one of the bloggers told me how honored he was to be there and how exciting it was to see what GM is doing.

Bloggers quite often have day jobs and blogging is just something they do on the side. I was impressed to learn that one of the bloggers, Lyle Dennis, is a neurologist in New York and does his blogging in-between patient visits.

The reason I want to include this in the blog is to show how companies should interact with bloggers. Bloggers are a critical "public," if you will, for all PR practitioners. We can't afford to ignore bloggers and their immense influence on our other publics. This experience showed me how to host bloggers at a media event as well as how important of a voice they have.

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