Can Blogging Help Sell Scooters?

The Wall Street Journal reports on a new and intimate way to reach consumers–The corporate blog. The Italian scooter maker Vespa is giving this new concept a shot starting in June.

“Piaggio is taking care. Its blog site,, could launch by early June, says Steve Rubel, a VP at NY PR firm CooperKatz, which will manage the program. Four bloggers will be selected to regularly contribute content about the products and broader lifestyle topics. The company will give the bloggers guidance as well as a code of ethics. Comments may be removed if they are deemed inappropriate.

“We’re being upfront from the very start in this process, and we’ll be completely transparent throughout,” promises Mr. Rubel.

In other instances, corporations look on as independent bloggers do their thing. Blogger Jim Romenesko operates Starbucks Gossip, found at Starbucks has neither a policy regarding blogs nor a formal system for monitoring them, says spokesman Alan Hilowitz.

One large marketer says it is willing to give contrary opinions a ride on its corporate blog. While at first blush General Motors’ looks like a mouthpiece for GM Vice Chairman Robert A. Lutz, critical voices are also posted. An important part of a corporate blog, says Michael Wiley, director of new media in the auto maker’s communications department, is a strong stomach for consumer comment. “A lot of what blogging is about is authenticity, getting beyond corporate speak and PR, and really creating a conversation,” Mr. Wiley says. “Not being thin-skinned and accepting the negatives, that’s key.”