Ford prepares comms for online shopping rush

DEARBORN, MI: Ford Motor Company is focusing its PR and social media efforts on a potential jump in online traffic this week after online sales leads increased 17% on Black Friday last year.

DEARBORN, MI: Ford Motor Company is focusing its PR and social media efforts on a potential jump in online traffic this week after online sales leads increased 17% on Black Friday last year.

Consumers are shopping earlier this year because more stores are staying open on Thanksgiving, so Ford began promoting some of its vehicle and tire deals online last week, said Wes Sherwood, quality communications manager at the automotive company. Ford will continue those digital marketing efforts through the first week of December.

“In all of our communications efforts, we have a real integrated approach between the marketing and communications team,” Sherwood said.  

He added that while Ford's communications philosophy is to “aggressively promote” the company's stories all the time, the automaker especially focuses on proactive media outreach and social media engagement during the holidays.

During Thanksgiving week, consumers have shopping on their minds and media outlets are looking for stories, so it is important for Ford to stay engaged with all stakeholders, Sherwood explained.

Ford has learned that its targeted truck customers research vehicles online about 30% more than average shoppers, and they also engage more in discussions on message boards and forums. 

Last year, online sales leads for Ford's F-150 truck increased 22% on Black Friday, compared to a typical day in November.

After realizing the digital enthusiasm of its truck consumers, the company has aggressively promoted its F-150 truck, Sherwood said. Ford usually tells one big story a week about the F-150 on its digital channels, but throughout November the company has posted two stories a week.

WPP Group's Team Detroit, which works with Ford on communications, has helped the company generate story ideas and tell those stories in unique and amplified ways, Sherwood said.

He added that the WPP team has been instrumental in engaging a range of media this week and last, including traditional, automotive, trade, and retail outlets.

On an internal communications basis, Ford has made sure staffers across the country are excited about the business, said Sherwood.

Earlier this week, Ford unveiled its float for Detroit's Thanksgiving Day parade to employees at the company's headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. 

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