A joint analysis by Daimler and Edelman had found that it is less and less possible to reach a growing number of target groups via the classic media channels. Daimler AG therefore wanted to make an attractive offer to groups “active in the web” in order to allow them to get in touch with the corporation. Edelman analysed which dialogue instruments are being used by large corporations. Finally Daimler Communications chose an Employee Blog as the best approach. The aim was to enter into a real dialogue with an interested public. Since Daimler was the first major corporation in its class to start a corporate blog, the blogging-scene had to be prepared for it slowly and over some time. The launch of the Daimler blog drew a lot of attention internally and externally and increased the number of visits to the Daimler website: In the first four weeks the blog was accessed about 80,000 times. Right after the Daimler blog started it was listed as No. 1 in the “Top Corporate Blog List“ of Manager Magazine.
Challenges and Opportunities
Over the last couple of months, many multi-national corporations have commenced to blog or at least have been reaching out to the blogging community. GM,
It was the goal of Daimler AG to enter into a real dialogue with an interested public. Every day “small” stories take place inside a corporation such as Daimler AG that don’t find their way into the media. At the same time the employees play an ever more important role in the corporation’s external communications. This is why Daimler AG also wanted to give others within the corporation a voice, in addition to the public information functions of the press office and in parallel to the still valid “one voice policy”.
In the course of a two-month research process Edelman analysed on behalf of Daimler, which dialogue instruments are being used by large corporations and how the competition is operating in the web – above all in the so-called Web 2.0. From the various blog formats (Marketing Blog, CEO Blog, PR Blog) Daimler Communications chose an Employee Blog as the best approach.
In cooperation with T-Systems Multimedia Solutions, a weblog under http://blog.daimler.de was developed on the basis of free software that is widely accepted in the blog scene.
In an internal “word-of-mouth” process an effort was made to find Daimler AG employees (and to encourage them to become bloggers).
Edelman has co-developed a blog policy (internal) and so-called “comment guidelines” (external) for the blog, by which Daimler delineates the framework for authors (policy) and asserts its right to impose “house rules” (guidelines).
The project manager at Daimler started to release first hints regarding the upcoming blog via the micro blogging service Twitter (http://twitter.com/
An important component in the overall strategy was the so-called “seeding” of the blog in the German online scene. Since Daimler was the first major corporation in its class to start a corporate blog, the scene had to be prepared for it slowly and over some time, so that enough curiosity could be raised while keeping expectations manageable.
Openness and the ability to take criticism – and what’s associated with these characteristics: being in control – is something that played a central strategic role in the design of the blog and the concept for comments. On the one hand the Daimler blog intentionally links up to the blogs of other car manufacturers in the so-called “blogroll” (the list of recommended links), while on the other hand Daimler has decided on a comment management that differs significantly from the usual corporate blogs: comments are not cleared by a moderator, but appear immediately after the commentator has written his comment and the comment has been confirmed per E-mail. In this way Daimler makes sure that only comments with a valid E-mail address are submitted.
Another important strategic component of the concept was the concerted support of the blogs by Daimler Communications and top management.
During the three-month internal test phase Edelman selected and followed 15 known bloggers and disseminators who got access to the test blog and were already allowed to write about the blog. T-Systems Multimedia Solutions and Daimler implemented the feedback of these bloggers and tips and suggested subjects during the test phase – thus involving the bloggers in the development. For the start of the blog, the test bloggers and journalists were used again, who immediately drew attention to it – and generated the first wave of access (app. 15,000 times on the second day).
After the annual shareholders’ meeting and the official renaming of the corporation into Daimler AG, the blog was opened with an introductory comment by the head of Web Communications on
Summary of the results
The Daimler blog drew a lot of attention internally and externally. The first contribution drew 94 comments. According to the blog search engine Technorati, 140 blog articles in other blogs established links to the Daimler blog. In the first four weeks the blog was accessed about 80,000 times. The contributions that appeared so far about every two working days received on average 13 comments each. Especially the “human” topics (children and job, permanent night shift) led to serious and interesting discussions.
Contact to the
The initial response in online and print media was a channelled one, with Horizont, FAZ and the Standard being the chosen key media. Another success was making No. 1 in the “Top Corporate Blog List“ of Manager Magazine right after the start.
The reaction in online media and blogs was predominantly positive, rarely neutral. The expected criticism in blogs that are always very discriminating in dealing with corporations and are active in Web 2.0, was absent, which can also be ascribed to the early inclusion of bloggers.
The response in the corporation was very positive. After initial hesitation, more and more employees register as “bloggers” now.