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McDonald's Blogs

_This article is by Guest Contributor Kate Trgovac, reporting from the “BlogOn”: conference. Here are her notes on the “McDonald’s Corporation – Roadmap to a Corporate Blogging Strategy” session._
This was a solid conversation on initiating a corporate blogging strategy led by Chris Shipley, Executive Producer of Blogon. Steve Wilson is the Senior Director of Global Web Communications for McDonald’s. About 18 months ago he started planning the strategic use of blogs for internal communications at McDonald’s; last week, the President and COO of McDonald’s, Mike Roberts, launched his blog (the first at McDonald’s). Steve shared some of the challenges and steps to getting to Roberts’ blog.

h2. Choose Your Timing Carefully.
Each year McDonald’s holds an internal conference for its communication professionals, bringing outside speakers and new ideas into the organization. Last September, Wilson presented a session on “Emerging Technologies” at this conference, including overviews of blogs, wiki’s and other social media. There was some interest, but most felt it wasn’t relevant to McDonald’s. Wilson himself identified a culture clash. Blogs and other unstructured media are disconcerting to a control-oriented culture like McDonald’s (remember – this is the company that ensures that your burger is made the same whether you are in Vancouver, London or Tokyo).
Then, at the start of 2005 when business magazines started publishing about social media (Business Week’s cover in February comes to mind), Wilson’s senior leadership starting making enquiries. He was ready.
h2. Engage The Right People!
Wilson held briefing sessions with the senior leadership team and delivered two key messages: a fast education on blogging basics, and, the fact that McDonald’s community was already blogging! He gave examples of both employee and customer blogs. Wilson also engaged the legal team at this time, primarily to explain this new channel to them and to work with them to develop policies similar to other internal communication policies.
With this team, he developed three sets of guidelines:
# What McDonald’s blogs about internally
# What you can blog about publicly when you identify yourself as a McDonald’s employee
# What employees who have been designated can blog about as a representative of McDonald’s
Internal blog communications was the focus for McDonald’s blog launch. Wilson’s goal for the project was the addition of context to the rich pool of internal content that already existed. The project was identified as a pilot project which he felt gave people a higher comfort level (if it doesn’t work it can be taken down).
h2. Launch With A Splash
That the first blog at McDonald’s was the President’s got a lot of people to sit up and pay attention. It was actually launched with a live blogging session. Roberts committed an hour to blogging about topics that employees were interested in. Roberts would also respond to comments posted on those topics. In 65 minutes, Roberts addressed 46 comments. Senior management were present at the live blogging session to determine the level of engagement of staff.
Wilson considers the pilot a success. They were able to address more issues than at previous “Town Hall” style meetings. Employee response has also been positive.
h2. What Next?
Wilson plans to continue to roll out other blogs internally. As for external blogs, Wilson indicated that it wasn’t really his bailiwick, but he recommends that companies looking to blog publicly tell relevant, brand-forward stories.
McDonald’s is currently looking for these opportunities to engage with their customers.
_Kate Trgovac is currently Manager, Web Evolution for Petro-Canada. Prior to joining Petro-Canada, Kate spent eight years developing user experience strategies for clients at several interactive agencies in Toronto. She writes about technology, branding, user-experience and other topics of note on her blog “”: ._

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