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Chicago Auto Show Blog

We Engage the Blogosphere

Posted by: Jennifer Ferm

On Feb. 12, during the media preview days of the Chicago Auto Show, traditional and new media alike were joined together in one room. Was there conversation? Sure. Were there debates? Oh yeah. Did it get heated at times? You betcha!

All flocked together for a common interest, the press conference “Engaging the Blogosphere,” the attendees were greeted with a presentation from J.D. Power & Associates’ Gene Cameron, vice president, and Chance Parker, executive director. The two gentlemen discussed J.D. Power & Associates’ “Chevy Volt” case study, a study to determine how potential customers viewed the 2011 Chevy Volt. They also discussed their conducted research that showed 91% of Internet users read or have read a blog—even without their knowledge, providing an untapped market for car manufacturers.

The Chevy Volt case study recognized that blogging is at the forefront to influencing potential buyers. Potential consumers were also influenced by the content of the blogs and whether or not the blog was professional or personal. The study found that professional blogs discussed the design of the Volt whereas personal blogs focused on the price and everyday functionality of the vehicle. Cameron and Parker emphasized the need to acknowledge the blogosphere as the new medium to reach new buyers.

Following J.D. Power & Associates’ presentation, a panel of industry experts was introduced onstage. Communications director for Chevrolet’s division of GM, Terry Rhadigan; AutoWeek editor and associate publisher, Dutch Mandel; AutoBlog.com editor-in-chief, John Neff; KickingTires.com editor, David Thomas; and the moderator, Jason Vines; contributed to the ongoing conversation of traditional vs. social media. Video footage of the (heated) panel discussion can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSNWqjmIelA.

Many conference attendees had questions for the panelists which had Jason Vines, the moderator, running from each corner of the room with a microphone to accommodate those with questions. Some traditional media members raised concerns to new media members regarding proper editing and professionalism. Some traditional media members felt that bloggers didn’t have proper editing on their sites and argued that anyone can create a Web site. New media members retaliated by saying their sites have a high readership and, thus, should be counted credible. They further argued that, after all, there’s a growing need for news-on-demand—which is exactly what some of their sites offer.

Two break-out sessions began after the panel discussion. Attendees were given the option of attending “How to Drive Revenue Online” or “Engaging Social Media: Effective Communication Strategies.” “How to Drive Revenue Online” was led by Seth Barron, Google automotive industry sales and operations manager, and “Engaging Social Media: Effective Communication Strategies” was led by Rick Wion, GolinHarris vice president of interactive communications.

We thought it would be interesting to combine traditional and new media members to let them “clear the air”—and we were right! The conference was productive, albeit frenzied at times. The feedback was positive, though, and it turns out this was a very popular topic. This may have started a new Chicago Auto Show media week tradition!

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