A New Way of Talking – From Crisis to Growth in Corporate Communications

Excerpt of an article written by Tuck Communications published in Tuck Today in June 2010

Remember the Big Three auto executives who flew to Washington last year to testify about the condition of the their industry and (for General Motors and Chrysler) to request federal aid? They traveled in three corporate jets, raising a firestorm of criticism at a time when Detroit autoworkers were being laid off by the thousands. It was, as one journalist pointed out, “stone-cold tone-deafness” that resulted in a further piling-on of anger for the U.S. automotive industry.

But for Paul Argenti, professor of corporate communication at Tuck, the more important story was what happened immediately afterward: Ford, realizing that it was being grouped with GM and Chrysler as a failing business and a villain, launched “The Ford Story” over the next weekend.

Ford’s communications program was created specifically for users of social media—Twitter, blogs, comment-enriched news, Facebook, YouTube, and other online applications. Its website, subtitled “Ford is different…join the conversation,” urges visitors to “get involved” and keep up with a live chat. A large portion of the home page is a string of links to Ford’s presence on social media or directly to the company itself (“Got a cool idea for Ford? Let’s hear it!”). Articles address new technologies, issues of social importance (for example, drivers distracted by texting), the ease of online purchasing, and, ultimately, quality and value.

And The Ford Story keeps it eye on the social-media prize: current opinion. “Ford’s focus was and continues to be on its strategy, products, and successes today, not yesterday or tomorrow,” says Argenti. “All of Ford’s communications and marketing is being driven by its turnaround strategy, and its use of social media is masterful.”

Read the rest of the post at Tuck Today

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