According to a recent post on MSNBC, the Pope is encouraging priests to blog. This shows how “mainstream” social media has become. In my opinion, the Catholic Church has always been very aggressive in its marketing efforts. They have realized that people are online and that if you want to reach your stakeholders, you need to go where they are congregating (pardon the pun).

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…Setting up a Twitter account or Facebook page is free. You can also get a blog set up at no cost. What does cost is the strategy, an audit, ongoing engagement, content creation and measurement. It’s much less than some traditional media buys, which has been one of the benefits of PR over the years—more credibility and less cost than ads. However, I think that we need to view social media as a component of communications and there are few people still out there who think that PR is “free.” There are similar comparisons, an organization doesn’t pay a reporter for editorial coverage, but to develop a media relations strategy, create a pitch, get it out there and connect with a journalist and follow through—that takes expertise, time and effort, which costs money.

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Chris Brogan has an excellent post on his site this week on how to influence him, and it translates to how to reach out to anyone either online or not.

One of the key points he makes is “don’t let the numbers fool you” and that is so important. I’ve blogged a bit about this before and according to some of the AHA crew, I am a bit obsessed right now with this topic. It’s not how many people you reach, it’s which people. Reaching a blogger with 100 key readers or one with a wide-range of 10,000 creates different results, but the one with 100 readers may be of more value to your organization.

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There is change in the air in America – and it smells fresh and new. As President Obama was giving his inaugural speech yesterday and taking over the office of the Commander-in-Chief, a switch was flipped on This site got a makeover that includes a new blog. With a focus on transparency, the new administration is posting all non-emergency legislation on this site so that the public can read it and comment before the President signs it.

Last year, I attended a social media conference where Bev Godwin, Director of spoke. It’s not as though President Obama is introducing the Federal Government to Web 2.0, there has been movement towards a more transparent and interactive approach online for quite some time. The Department of Defense, Homeland Security, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force are all active and interactive online. At the conference, Ms. Godwin spoke about the opportunity that social media presents in reaching out and creating authentic conversations that provide value for everyone involved, not just the politicians.

Now, with a leader who really “gets it,” it will be very interesting to see what happens when social media is embraced from the highest office in the U.S. and what kind of change will be created by embracing and increasing this kind of two-way communication.

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The subject of the U.S. Government bailing out the big three automakers is controversial. While facing a crisis, the GM Fast Lane blog is doing something interesting. They are blogging and asking for support. This is an active blog and there are many response posts. They are worth checking out.

According to GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who is credited with launching the blog in 2005, is using the blog. GM is attempting to wrangle all the criticism, critiques and praise in one convenient place. Here, executives can address problems, learn from the critiques and speak directly to customers.

It is interesting to note that while the blog wasn’t created to deal with issues or a crisis, this isn’t the first time that Lutz has used the blog and spoken directly with consumers. Earlier this year, it was reported that he said that Global warming is a total crock of %$Z@.

When that statement hit the blogosphere, it created quite a storm. Lutz responded onFastLane and addressed the controversy directly.

Whatever you think about Lutz and his take on global warming or his decisions to say whatever he thinks, it is clear that the FastLane blog has provide Lutz and GM with the opportunity to expand, clarify and, in this case, support quotes being put out by mainstream media and the blogosphere. The FastLane blog has a huge following and agree or not, anyone who wanted to could hear directly from Lutz and tell him what they thought. (Interestingly enough, he got support on the global warming blog post.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that he has been consistent and proactive in posting to the GM blog. He didn’t just show up when he saw the blog storm coming. He had built a conversation with people who wanted to speak with him and he could then reach out when this happened to put forward his side of things. 


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