DaimlerChrysler Environmental Report
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

DaimlerChrysler Environmental Report

Since the 1998 merger of Chrysler and Daimler-Benz AG, the company’s environmental officers have followed a vast set of guidelines that steer DaimlerChrysler’s global environmental protection policy.

Paul Holmes

Preserving and safeguarding the environment is an inherent component of DaimlerChrysler’s corporate vision.  Since the 1998 merger of Chrysler Corporation and Daimler-Benz AG, the company’s environmental officers have followed a vast set of guidelines that steers DaimlerChrysler’s global environmental protection policy.
Key to these new guidelines is communicating the company’s progress and achievements with environmental issues.  And key to that communication is the cross-continental creation and publication of the company’s annual Environmental Report.
The 2000 DaimlerChrysler Environmental Report needed to cover the work of an international corporation with two headquarters, one in Europe and the other in North America, and plants in 34 countries.  It was necessary to convey a worldwide message of environmental protection and planning. 
Report 2000, as it came to be known, would be no ordinary annual report told in corporate legalese.  It was made unique – and challenging – with its creators: college students representing two continents.  Who better to tell a global environmental story than the young people to be most affected tomorrow by today’s corporate decisions about land use, air quality and transportation.
The stories and photographs prepared by students were compelling feature articles written from the fresh perspective of journalists-in-training.  Under the direction of Hass Associates Inc., a public relations firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Schwerzmann & Team AG, a design company in Stuttgart, Germany, teams of student journalists, photographers and designers interacted with DaimlerChrysler engineers, scientists, designers and executives.  Students visited assembly plants, paint shops, corporate offices, technology laboratories, test tracks and brownfield sites.
Two immediate production challenges surfaced: geography and language.  Students literally lived around the world from each other.  Students represented numerous universities in Germany and the United States, with English and German and Italian the most commonly spoken languages.  Two American students spent three months working in a German graphic arts studio designing the report.
The Internet bridged communication between the students, DaimlerChrysler employees, and project managers from Hass and Schwerzmann.  A web site (www.report2000.com) was developed to serve as a virtual workspace for all involved.  Students used bulletin boards to exchange messages with their sources and with each other.  Reporters and photographers uploaded their articles and images to the site.  Graphic artists roughed out layouts and sought feedback before presenting their final designs.  Project managers presented edited versions of stories.
Throughout the production process, project managers also communicated via video conferencing, e-mail messages, phone calls and on-site visits in Germany and the United States.
More than 75,000 copies of the report were printed, with 70 percent prepared in German and the remaining issues published in English.  It was distributed throughout Europe and North America to policymakers, journalists, environmental organizations, political leaders and schools.
Along with printed copies, the report was made available on the DaimlerChrysler corporate web site (www.daimlerchrysler.com), which also provides users with an online form for ordering a print copy of Report 2000.
Not only did DaimlerChrysler Environmental Report 2000 reach thousands of interested parties throughout the world with the company’s message of environmental stewardship, it served as a working model for global corporations with its innovative use of students and of the Internet.  It fostered relationships with young people and their universities, while using cutting-edge technology to produce a staple corporate publication that was anything but ordinary.
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