Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Power to the People

Last week I had the unique, and might I say, unprecedented, opportunity to attend a gathering of enthusisasts for a car that is not even built yet. The car, the Chevrolet Volt, is an electric vehicle designed to go 40 miles on electricity alone, and then using a small motor to recharge the batteries for another 600+ miles.

So what's the big deal about this event? The event was hosted by Lyle Dennis, founder of a Volt enthusiast blog, http://www.gm-volt.com/. The short story is that Lyle, a NY-based neurologist, found out about the Volt at its debut last year and created the blog shortly thereafter. He quickly gained a large following of individuals anxious for the Volt to arrive. Last year he approached some people at GM about the possibility of doing an informal town hall meeting with GM and some members of the GM-Volt.com community. And so, Volt Nation was born.

It was amazing to see a few hundred enthusiasts (sorry for the low quality pics; I took them on my camera phone) come from as far as California to have the opportunity to get an insiders view of what's going on with the development and production of the Volt. The event was hosted by Lyle, and GM was simply a guest. We allowed Lyle to use they Chevy display at the NY Auto Show for the meeting, and made sure he had executives and subject matter experts on hand to answer questions. Our vice chairman, Bob Lutz was there to speak to the crowd and answer questions. He even brought a few pictures of the Volt's battery pack to share with Volt fans in attendance.
I say that this event is unprecedented because of the people in attendance. Normally at events like this all you have there are media. This time it was just everyday people with a passion for the vehicle. Not only did they get to see the car up close and personal, but they even had the chance to mingle with and ask questions of the executives and subject matter experts. Furthermore, this was not an event hosted by GM, but by a blogger. We simply gave him the resources he needed to make it happen.

Volt Nation, in my opinion, is an excellent example of good public relations practices. Volt Nation allowed GM to have two-way communication between the company and the people who will actually buy the Volt when it comes out. It was candid, open conversation. Doesn't get much better than that.

Links to stories about Volt Nation:

1 comment:

Chris Brogan said...

I, for one, am looking forward to meeting that car that hasn't been built yet, either. I'm telling you: get on that video show about the concepts, eh? We'll watch. I promise. : )

Great meeting you in Little Rock. Please drop me a line or whatever : ) LinkedIn?