Skip to main content

Christopher Barger, GM's Vice Chairman

Like most rock stars, Christopher Barger—who along with GM vice chairman Bob Lutz has transformed the image of GM from stodgy 20th-century manufacturer into Web 2.0-savvy innovator—is even better live than recorded. If you get the opportunity to hear him speak (an increasingly likely scenario as he expands his activity on the circuit), go for it. Here are a few highlights from his presentation at the recent Blogging for Business conference.

Blogging is (officially) no longer new. 90% of Internet users in the 25-34 year-old group are familiar with blogs. 60% of those under the age of 21 belong to a (online) social network. Blogs now rival traditional media for reach.

Blogging is a PR activity—a tool to build image and credibility—not marketing. In Barger's words, it belongs at the top of the sales funnel.

Social media has given every consumer the opportunity to reach millions of others with his or her opinion of a brand or product. And it's given every consumer access to the experience of millions of other actual product buyers. Meanwhile, what several hot products—iPods, DVRs and satellite radio—have in common is that they enable consumers to avoid commercials. In other words, technology has enabled your "market" to avoid your message and get information straight from your customers. Social media enables you, as a marketing or PR professional, to participate in the conversion—but no longer to control it.

Here's an approximation of Barger's excellent "New Communications Paradigm" slide:

Only journalists and PR people still draw lines between professional and amateur online writers; if the content seems credible, the audience doesn't care about the pedigree of the source. "Traditional" media now follows the blogosphere at least as often as it leads it.

That means PR pros have to treat bloggers (somewhat) like traditional journalists: invite them to events, give them special treatment, and provide them with access to key executives.

A key reason Barger has been so successful in his role is that he understands that "community" isn't only online. While blogging and social networks are a large part of his role, he also invites influential bloggers to GM events and serves as the company's presence at blogging events, such as the Manic Mommies Escape Weekend in late 2007, an appearance that generated coverage in both blogs and traditional media.

And finally, a few points that should be universally understood, but, judging from some of the pitches I receive, still aren't:
  • Bloggers want a dialog, not traditional PR outreach.
  • PR can influence opinion, but not control it.
  • Bloggers write (in almost all cases) for passion, not money.
  • Bloggers care about their own and their readers' interests—not the corporate story.
Rock on.


Contact Mike Bannan:


Danny Gardner said…
It is amazing how many people read blogs like yours before acting on impulse and purchasing something. You're right about the content, if it is good and seems credible, it doesn't matter as much where it came from.
Bill said…
As a blogger for hire myself and one who tends to use the products he is writing about, I can say you hit the nail on the head. The last thing my readers want to hear is a computer generated scripted article. What they want is personality, honesty, and the feeling that the author isn't just giving them the company line.
Windyridge said…
Very true about the pedigree. If you've got the content you can be anybody. I know of an xcon who has a great following and a great blog about his jail time and what got him put in the slammer!

Popular posts from this blog

AHREFS tops the marketing blunder list of 2018

It’s Early in 2018 and AHREFS tops the marketing blunder list It’s only the first week in February and you are reading about the Metrics/Data supplier that has provided us with fodder by creating a huge marketing blunder, Ahrefs.

Ahrefs is world's biggest third-party database of search queries with refined monthly search volume and research metrics.  Their data is used by untold numbers of digital marketers across the world.  Arguably they are the industry leader in this type of data.  The only thing that they changed was how a tiny item in their metrics was being calculated. 
About a week prior to the effective date of the change, Ahrefs notified users that a change was coming to how they calculated a domain rating or DR.  They also stated that many sites would see their rankings drop.  I agree that a need for change was warranted.  What I don’t agree with how they calculated the change and its ramifications for roughly 75% of all websites.  

This past Friday evening around 11 P.…

Hello March!

It is finally March! What will be your marketing strategy for this new month?!

The Wonders of the Weekend

How are you enjoying your first weekend of march?! Are you spending time working on your marketing plans or are you taking some time for yourself & enjoying the company of your family & friends? If you are working over the weekend, take a read at some of our older blog posts and give us some feedback. We are always looking for ways to improve the content we push out to our loyal readers.