Ford made the busy month of January even more exciting when they asked my company, Clever Girls Collective, to find 25 green and tech bloggers to participate in a Ford-hosted Driving Green event during the North American International Auto Show.
In Detroit. In January. Brrrr!
Despite the spectre of frigid temps, we were delighted to say yes, and quickly put together a kick-ass roster of talented and thoughtful Clever network car enthusiasts.
I have a long history with Ford, which includes a fabulous "40 Whatever" trip in a Ford-provided Mustang with my business partner (and BFF) Stefania, a side-story with Fake Scott Monty (more about him at the end), plus a family that only drove Fords for the first 25 years of my life, and for 50 years before that. Scott Monty, the head of social media for Ford, is a leader in social media strategy and execution, so it's always a bonus to work with him on a project.
That's a long way of saying, I was already a fan and excited to join the group as a green blogger, and to represent Clever Girls Collective. But as always, my opinions are my own.
Three Things Ford Gets Right
1. Ford talks to women
For one thing, Ford reached out the Clever Girls Collective network, which is predominantly women, to include 25 of our members in the Driving Green event. We sent (including me) 23 women and 2 men. Ford invited another 75 participants, most of whom were from major sites like Fast Company, Gizmodo, and the New York Times.
I give Ford huge props for including the Clever network bloggers, who have (relatively speaking) smaller, but highly engaged audiences. It speaks volumes about their understanding of how women make major purchasing decisions: We discuss it with our friends.
This inclusive attitude toward women was also noticeable at the Auto show itself. Ford set up a very nice "private" lounge area for the bloggers, where we could recharge our electronics, get lunch and cold drinks. Thoughtful. Good hosting.
They also brought in several senior executives to do interviews with us in that lounge -- everyone had a chance to speak one-on-one with them, regardless of the size of our publication or audience. Also, there were no restrictions on what we could ask.
It was dramatic to go from that environment to rest of the auto show, where few (if any!) of the women were acknowledged or engaged by other car companies. One other car company did a little online outreach, and invited several of the bloggers to their hospitality suite, which was smart. But once we got there, she was the only person we spoke with -- and she was from the PR company, not the car company itself. She was very well informed about the product, but it was a far cry from getting to ask Ford's head of sustainable design about alternative fabric choices.