One of the first names that comes up when anyone talks about corporate blogging is that of General Motors VP Bob Lutz. His use of the GM FastLane blog is a standard reference for how a corporate executive might make effective use of blogging. Lutz gets not one but ten references in Debbie Weil’s The Corporate Blogging Book.

Shel Israel has interviewed Bob Lutz on the subject of social media within General Motors and more generally. Evidently this is the first time Lutz has agreed to an exclusive interview on the subject.

As a social media consultant for business, I found the interview riveting, have watched it again and intend to watch it a couple more times at least. Here is a 72 year old executive (seniors rule OK!) explaining how social media/blogging have helped his company both in terms of external communication with the media, customers and the general public and how it can help internal communications.

Seventeen minutes on how blogging and other social media can work in and for the enterprise. Evidence based, practical, insightful.

Some points I picked up on the first viewing:

  • Lutz was surprised to find that the primary readership of the blog turned out to be the media – “the number one readers of the FastLane blog”
  • he hopes journalists will now pause before writing a “really stupid piece” on GM, in the knowledge that GM has a way of responding and explaining that does not have to be mediated by the mainstream media and they will not want to be embarrassed by being shown up in front of their peers in the FastLane blog
  • he felt that GM were previously treated poorly by the media (always “glass half empty” stories) but he can no longer complain about how new products are treated in the press (“glass half full”)
  • a public-facing corporate blog helps the public to see a corporation less in the old way (a monolith) and more as it is, a collection of diverse individuals, all trying to do the right thing for the shareholders and for the American public
  • in corporate America, official communication had reached a point where it was no longer communication (pre-digested, sanitized, everything positive, no longer taken very seriously because it’s pre-packaged)
  • blogging by various executives where they communicate spontaneously puts a human face on the corporation
  • he thinks if blogging had been around in earlier days, Lee Iaccoca would have been a blogger!
  • internally, blogging is “an incredibly powerful tool for knitting a culture together”
  • in the future, social media will be the preferred means of communication
  • apart from condolences, he almost never writes a letter these days
  • he hopes Ford Motor Company do a lot of internal blogging these days (for their sake)

In my experience, corporate executives are more interested in what other corporate executives have to say about most things, including new technologies, than they are in what consultants and technology salespeople have to say. And rightly so.

Which makes this interview, from my corporate blogging/social media consultant’s viewpoint, pure gold.

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).