Corporate PR pros discuss strategy at BlogOn conference

NEW YORK: Corporate PR professionals attending the BlogOn 2005 conference this week provided a glimpse into the divergent ways US businesses are taking advantage of the new communications vehicle.

NEW YORK: Corporate PR professionals attending the BlogOn 2005 conference this week provided a glimpse into the divergent ways US businesses are taking advantage of the new communications vehicle.

Steve Wilson, senior director of global web communications for McDonald's, announced that his company had launched an internal blog last week as a way to communicate with employees. Written by COO and president Mike Roberts, the blog also allows employees to post comments.

Wilson said he first realized the potential of blogs and other emerging technologies in September 2004, but the timing wasn't right.

"Even if we could bring in the technology, the culture wasn't ready," Wilson said.

When management inquired about the environment in May 2005, he surprised them with a presentation showing how McDonald's crews, inter-operators, and customers were already blogging about the company. He took them to a blog search that showed 675,000 entries containing the word McDonald's.

"That got their attention very quickly," Wilson said.

Gil Schwartz, EVP of communications for CBS Television discussed the status of CBS News's much-watched new external blog, Public Eye. Vaughn Ververs, who authors the blog, serves as an online ombudsman between the CBS News team and the public.

"We're proud of our blog," Schwartz said. "It's really good, it has a voice, and it really gives us elbows" in the online discussion.

Schwartz said that blogs were a "fascinating, vital, and vibrant part of the media," but admitted he was negative about the environment a year ago.

He also said PR department tries to answer all blogger inquiries.

Randall McAdory, manager of business intelligence and interactive communications for DaimlerChrysler, said his company was currently monitoring bloggers more than participating.

"It's important to understand what automotive enthusiasts are saying about your product," McAdory said.

When the company launched its 2005 Dodge Charger, McAdory said Charger purists commented on blogs first, upset that the car had four doors, in comparison to the original's two-door set-up. However, as the conversation spread, he said more people expressed excitement with the new design.


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