Thursday, August 9, 2007


im·merse [i-murs]–verb (used with object), -mersed, -mers·ing.
  1. to involve deeply; absorb

  2. to embed; bury

Two of my fellow interns and I spent this past Tuesday and Wednesday completely immersed in car design at GM's Design Center in Warren, Mich. It was an exhausting, but enlightening two days.

Our assignment was to spend time with this year's GM Design Interns. GM has enlisted 18 young designers from 14 design schools to design a future Chevrolet car for the Gen-Y driver in 2012. We spent a few hours in their design studio talking with the student designers, sculptors (they all have to sculpt a clay model of their car), mechanical engineers and graphic designers, as well as getting familiar with each of their projects.

One of the more difficult parts of the assignment was writing the bios on each intern. We had to interview each of the interns to get a feel for their experiences at GM so far and what their future plans are. The interviewing was the easy part, the hard part was taking each interns' wealth of knowledge and experience and condensing it down into three or four paragraphs. This helped me learn how to communicate a powerful message in as few words as possible.

We also had to write a press release on each of the six cars being designed. This was difficult because not only did we have to describe each project in detail, but also try to highlight what each team was trying to convey with their car. I also learned how to coach some of the interns along as they tried to come up with a good quote for the release.

Creating three to four key messages for each project was interesting because we really had to take everything we learned about the projects and boil it down into just a few words. We learned that when creating messages it's important to use everyday language and not corporate speak.

Finally, we created a comprehensive communications plan surrounding the unveiling of these vehicles if they are to appear as concept cars at an auto show. Since the cars are targeted to Gen-Y we focused heavily on social media as one of our primary channels of communication. Some ideas we came up with were hosting a virtual auto show on Second Life, creating a Facebook application that would allow consumers to vote on their favorite car and creating a series of podcasts to highlight the design process from start to finish. We also came up with ideas to use traditional media and face-to-face communication on college campuses.

Having spent the last four months completely focused on social media, it was nice to enhance some of my other PR skills. Being immersed in a project like this was a tough, but very rewarding experience.

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