Boeing Quietly Masterminds First Ever Corporate Blog Spinoff
Randy's blog from Boeing has long appeared in social media presentations as a wonderful example of how to do a corporate blog. I have talked about the example often and linked to it, and the way that Randy dealt with Airbus' exaggerated claims of the A320 being "7 inches wider than the Boeing 737" was one of the most brilliant uses of a blog for corporate response that I have ever seen to this day. Well, no good things last forever and Randy Baseler, the CMO at Boeing finally decided to retire after more than three decades with the company. Since he has started blogging, I would argue that Randy's Journal has become the most prominent vehicle for Boeing to communicate with customers, media and just about anyone. No corporate communications department is going to let an asset like that go away.
In a brilliant twist, or perhaps intentionally crafted this way, Randy B. handed over the keys to Randy's Journal to another Randy at Boeing: Randy Tinseth, VP of Marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle (his bio jokes - "Being named “Randy” isn’t the only qualification necessary to be a Boeing blogger – but it doesn’t hurt!"). Aside from being able to keep the first name used in the blog title intact, the new blog is really no different from the old in terms of look and feel. One face has been substituted for another, but the intention seems very clearly to keep the blog running as if it's business as usual. The only sign of the recent handover on the blog is the sidebar link to "Randy Baseler's Archives" as a separate part of the blog. The visual posts and conversational style all are carried on by the new Randy.
We have seen these strategies often as television shows run their course and spinoff into other programs. ER has been handed from actor to actor as cast members left. Grey's Anatomy is experimenting right now with a new spinoff of their own. Friends tried it unsuccessfully with "Joey." Yet this is the first time I can recall seeing a corporation trying the same feat (though I imagine they won't be the last). It's probably too early to tell, but my early assessment would be that it's been a very successful shift unlikely to lose the audience Randy's Journal has built up over the years. Just wait - in time this may become the definitive case study for other corporations dealing with the challenge of replacing retiring or defecting corporate bloggers without losing the credibility and voice they have spent months or years building. Although I imagine Ogilvy will probably have a tough time finding another marketing blogger named Rohit ...