A couple of months ago, I became aware of a group of fathers here in Maynard who get together on occasion just to take some……time off. As I understand it, most of the gatherings occur during Monday Night Football telecasts, which is slightly unfortunate for me, as I play in a very competitive ice hockey pickup game on Mondays year ’round.  So it was great to finally meet everyone at a summer gathering back in June. About 15 of us showed up to a friend’s house for some BBQ and some card playing. As a quick sidenote – when it’s guys who are in charge of the food and beer, it becomes very obvious right away that the planning women bring to parties is crucial. Just saying.

Anyway, the purpose for the gathering was to send off a fellow named Scott Monty, who, like myself, worked largely at home and was immersed in internet business. I wish I had known about this guy a year or two ago, because we probably could have had some good lunches, given our professional similarities. He was wrapping up his stint as a Social Media Director for a company called Crayon and was moving onto Michigan to head up Social Media at the Ford Motor Company. I didn’t get to talk to Scott all that much that night, but it wasn’t too difficult to find him online. He blogs, he twitters, he basically does everything I do.

So my point? A couple of things. One – it’s really terrific to see a (perceived) old-school company like Ford seriously thinking about the internet like this. The impact that social media has had on the internet and our daily lives, arguably, remains to be seen, but large companies connecting with the public directly via the internet is undoubtedly the wave of the future for PR. It will take a LOT of companies a LOT of time to realize this and those companies will suffer for it. Ford will not suffer.  Comcast, who impressively now directly messages unsatisfied customers via Twitter,  will not suffer. This is the way companies need to think. Too many won’t. They’ll be stuck doing formal press releases via the normal, antiquated, stuffy, boring channels – and will be sitting there scratching their butts and wondering why their PR is so weak.

So, all that said, one of Scott’s first actions at Ford was to invite a whole list of important bloggers to its 2009 Model Year Media Day. So while most of the other car companies have the usual grayhaired, bitter, cigarette-frayed writers at their media functions, Scott brought in folks who, for better or worse for Ford, will write their honest feelings about what they experienced on their well-read blogs. Risky maybe, but when you have that kind of confidence in your product (as I hope Scott did!), then it’s not much of a risk. But you never know! THAT is social media.

So…..the results? A series of previously skeptical bloggers who are now singing Ford’s praises, not because Ford fed them well or comped them something cool, but because of the PRODUCT. Novel! But hopefully not for long. Consider that reason #43,234 why I love the internet.

And by the way, that new Ford Flex looks super cool.