February 05, 2007

Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review: Caterpillar (CAT) #55

By Li Evans

Caterpillarlogo Caterpillar (CAT) is my next review installment for the Fortune 500 Blog Review Project.  The company is #55 on the Fortune 500 list and has been in business for over 80 years.  Caterpillar (CAT) is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines.

No Corporate Blogs
I really enjoyed researching Caterpillar, although I was disappointed to find no corporate blogs, I did find a really enjoyable site and the neat things that Caterpillar is doing.  I admit, I was a tomboy growing up, I loved playing with big dump trucks - not Barbies, so this was just a treat!  There is a lot of information out on Caterpillar's site, and they are doing a lot of really  interesting things, but you have to dig around to find them - a blog could really help to highlight all their amazing ideas & projects.

Caterpillarceojameswowens I did some digging into the board of directors, and again, found no blogs for these gentlemen. James W. Owens, the company's CEO seems like a pretty active guy who's been with the company for a really long time.  His insight into how he rose through the ranks of Caterpillar and his vision for the direction of the company, could be a very interesting draw for the company.  Some might say "heavy equipment" how can you make that interesting?  Well, I thought the same of hotels, but just take a look at what Bill Marriott is blogging about!

Since there are no blogs, I'd wrap this up by sharing with you the neat things I found on Caterpillar's website:

Come on folks at Caterpillar - give us a blog to tell us what other really neat things you are doing or are involved with! :)


For a full list of all the companies that have been researched so far, check out the Fortune 500 Blog Project.  For the list of Fortune 500 blogs researched by Search Marketing Gurus, check out the Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review category.

February 04, 2007

Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review: CVS (CVS) #53

By Li Evans

Cvslogo I'm back with another review for the Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review Project, with a review of the nation's biggest drugstore chain, CVSCVS is #53 on the list, and in a lot of respects it's similar to RiteAid (#129) (RAD) which I reviewed a few months ago.  CVS was founded back in 1963, quickly grew in the next year with 17 stores.  In 1969 CVS was acquired by the Melville Corporation and for the next 25+ years was under that umbrella.  In 1996, Melville Corporation restructured and CVS became its own stand alone corporation "CVS Pharmacy, Inc.".

No Corporate Blogs
Cvsflorida2 Like it's competitor, RiteAid, CVS has no corporate facing blogs.  In fact they have no blogs at all.  As I highlighted with RiteAid's review, they could really benefit from some kind of marketing blog.  Taking advantage of a totally wide open area and capitalizing upon it.  No one (company wise) is communicating with senior citizens or their children who help them with their prescriptions.

Thomasmryan I did some digging for CVS's CEO, Thomas M. Ryan, as well as other executives like Chris W. Bodine and Larry J. Merlo.  I couldn't find any blogs related to them, either.  CVS doesn't have any women on their board of directors, so they wouldn't even benefit from the type of press that RiteAid gets with their CEO, Mary Sammons.

CVS has adopted RSS feeds in their press release section, so at least there's a hint they understand some of the web technologies that are available.  However, I doubt that it's CVS it's self that understands it, I believe its Thomson Financial that understands that. 

Thomas Financial partners with a lot of these Fortune 500 companies to provide them with their "Corporate Information" area.  You'll notice this because you are no longer on the corporation's site, your on "corporate-ir.net", and that's where you in turn see the press room's of these companies having RSS feed for their press room.

Cvscolleagues2 One last note as to why CVS should seriously consider a blog of some sort - opportunists are taking advantage of the CVS name and lack of their own blog.  A ton of spammers have set up phony blogs with the CVS name and either are AdSense filled or redirect you over to a site for prescription drugs.


For a full list of all the companies that have been researched so far, check out the Fortune 500 Blog Project.  For the list of Fortune 500 blogs researched by Search Marketing Gurus, check out the Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review category.

January 17, 2007

Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review: Marriott International (MAR) #203

By Li Evans

Marriottlogo It's been a few weeks since I have been able to sit down and dedicate some time to the Fortune 500 Blog Project.  However, over the past few days I've managed to find the time to piece together an entry about Marriott International (MAR), which is #203 on the list.  Marriott, of course is the international hotel chain with close to 3,000 hotels within it's portfolio, the company brands include high end hotels like Ritz-Carlton to the more economical hotels like the Courtyard and Fairfield brands.

Stepping Into the Blogosphere
Marriottonthemove Just yesterday, Marriott's CEO, J. Williard Marriott, Jr. launched his blog, entitled "Marriott On The Move".   It's aim is to be a communication device that Bill Marriott can use to express what he's doing with both the business and within his own personal life.  The blog has only one entry, since yesterday was its first launch, but I actually found myself having a better opinion of Marriott after reading what Bill Marriott posted.

I have an idea now where Marriott as a business is going, they are planning to open their 3,000th hotel in 2007.  I know now that Bill Marriott is on top of things technology wise and is striving to incorporate new features and services across all of Marriott.  I also know that Marriott goes to over 250 of his hotels, personally.  Had I not read the blog, I'd still think Bill Marriott was this  "stuffy, old corporate CEO" who doesn't have a clue what his customers or employers really want, instead I know a lot more about him and the business, heck I even know he listens to Barack Obama podcasts on his own iPod.

This is the kind of communication the consumers love.  People want and like to know what's going on with brands they feel they have a personal investment in, as well as the people attached to them.  Investors like honesty, and customers want to know that companies really do care and are striving to improve products and services.  Mr. Marriott's blog, with just one post covered a heck of a lot of that!  It also made me look deeper into the company stock information, history and brands.  It served its purpose - it created an interest and drove me to other areas of Marriott's site.

J_willard_marriott_jr The Washington Post covered the launch of the blog in an article "An Old Dog Learns To Write A New Blog," in it they state:

"Marriott's entry into the blogosphere is another in a series of steps he has taken to keep his Bethesda company -- and himself -- relevant in the fast-changing hotel industry, which is adapting to a more urbane breed of traveler who communicates via the Internet and demands a sophisticated lodging experience. The hotel chain has updated its room furnishings and is retooling its lobbies as places for people to eat, drink, work and socialize."

Marriott, hadn't been a hotel I would first look at for a stay, but now, I'm more inclined to.  Why?  Although I'm not the "typical" hotel consumer, I perceive Marriott's blog in this way:  The company CEO feels his company's customers are important enough to communicate with, through his own blog. Communication is the key!  By the 50+ comments on his first blog entry, apparently I'm not alone in that thought.


For a full list of all the companies that have been researched so far, check out the Fortune 500 Blog Project.  For the list of Fortune 500 blogs researched by Search Marketing Gurus, check out the Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review category.

December 22, 2006

Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review: PepsiCo #61 (PEP)

By Li Evans

Pepsico PepsiCo (PEP) is much more than the 2nd biggest brand in soft drinks.  There are quite a lot of familiar brands that fall under the PepsiCo conglomerate.  From Pepsi, Tropicana, Gatorade to Quaker (and a lot more internationally known brands) PepsiCo has an arsenal of brand recognition under its corporate belt.  They are probably most known for Pepsi, though.  From Michael Jackson's hair on fire to Mariah Carey and Brittney Spears, millions of Americans also identify celebrities with the soft drink brand.

No Corporate Blogs
With so many brands, and such brand recognition one would think the company would be trying to be one step in front of its competition, Coca-Cola.  Unfortunately this isn't the case.  PepsiCo and its army of brands are lacking in blogs.  Corporate or marketing I couldn't find anything for Pepsi, Quaker, Tropicana, or even Frito Lay.

Indranooyi_1 No executives are blogging either.  This is probably the biggest disappoint for me as a reviewer of this company.  PepsiCo has the most powerful woman in business today at their helm.  Indra Nooyi took over as CEO and president of PepsiCo on October 1, 2006 and is the first foreign born woman in the USA to hold the position of CEO in a Fortune 500 company.

Indra is also the 4th most powerful woman in the  entire world, according to Forbes.  She's also the most powerful woman in the Business World according to Fortune.  If Indra spoke, people would listen.  Understanding though that it comes down to being about the company and the brands, PepsiCo could benefit immensely by Indra Nooyi sharing her thoughts and plans for the future of PepsiCo.  PepsiCo has a powerful weapon here in it's battle for brand recognition, why they aren't using it is a mystery.

PepsiCo, has a long way to go when it comes to engaging their customer base.  Their well known competitor, Coca-Cola,  had a boon this past year with the folks from Eepybird and their fun Diet Coke/Mentos geysers.  The closest thing PepsiCo has come to that was the "make your own video" for Frito Lay Superbowl contest.  Someone in house at PepsiCo should start taking a long hard look at their internet marketing strategies!

For a full list of all the companies that have been researched so far, check out the Fortune 500 Blog Project.  For the list of Fortune 500 blogs researched by Search Marketing Gurus, check out the Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review category.

December 10, 2006

Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review: #196 Oracle (ORCL)

By Li Evans

Oracle It's been a while since I've been able to find the time to do a review for the Fortune 500 Blog Project, but tonight I set aside time to take a look at #196 of the Fortune 500, that company is Oracle (ORCL).  This company is the world's largest enterprise software company, specializing in databases and software to help companies manage their entire business from orders to shipping to human resources.

Lots & Lots of Blogs!!
Being a database programmer in a former life, I am very familiar with the products that Oracle puts out to the public.  I also know a bit about the company and its technology history.  So, I was not surprised to find that Oracle had a blog.  What I was surprised to find is how thoroughly this company has embraced blogging!  It is utterly amazing and refreshing to see a company take this approach with communicating with its customers and general public.

Larry_ellisonOracle has a page full of links to top executive blogs, and then another whole section with links to Oracle employee blogs.  We're not talking 1 or 2 here, there's a lot of blogs listed covering a wide range of specialties of their employees and executives.

The only disappointment?  No blog from Larry Ellison, the Oracle SEO who is well know in the press for his comments about everything from Microsoft to the Government.  It would be great to get some insight from this amazing businessman about where he sees the direction of his company going.

November 26, 2006

Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review: J.C. Penney #118 (JCP)

By Li Evans

Jcplogo J.C. Penney, famous for its catalogs and as one of today's leading retailers both in brick & mortar stores and with their online retail website, is up next in my list of Fortune 500 companies to research for the Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review.  James Cash Penney started the business out in 1902 and it has grown into one of today's most recognized businesses by name alone.

No Corporate Blogs
Although they have an extensive investor relations section, complete with a searchable news release section, no corporate facing blogs could be found on the website.  A search of Technorati, Google, Ask, Yahoo and Live all turned up nothing in the way of an "Official JC Penney" blog - marketing or otherwise.

A search for the CEO and Chairman of the Board, Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III, failed to turn up any blogs written by him as well.  JC Penney has a rather large corporate structure with a lot of different VPs, directors and other management people, so it is possible one of these people has a blog, but I do not believe they relate it to JC Penney - otherwise they would have come up.

Technoratijcpenney The buzz around JC Penney is pretty low key, other than for certain key times.  Blog post mentions go up around the time corporate earnings are released and also around Black Friday and the holiday shopping season.  There is a little written about Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III as well, but the generally people are blogging about their experiences of purchasing things from JC Penney.

Marketing wise, JC Penney could utilize a blog to promote its recent venture with Sephora that started back in April of 2006.  It could help them with establishing the name recognition and link the two brands more soundly.  Right now, it does not seem to  be promoted online that well and a person coming to the JCP site could be confused as to why they see a "Sephora" tab within the navigation. 

Jcpenneysephora They could also explain some of their marketing attempts as well - the image inset here is their promotion on the Sephora page.  Now, I really hate to speak for all women - but looking like a circus clown is really not a goal I want to attain with my makeup, so this marketing piece is really just an immediate turn off.  It leaves me wondering - "Why?" - perhaps a blog on tips and trends in beauty and cross promote its venture with Sephora in this way.

November 18, 2006

Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review: NorthWest Airlines #182 (NWACQ)

By Li Evans

Nwalogo Northwest Airlines, Inc. started as an airline that flew mail between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Chicago back in 1926.  About a year later, the company started offering passenger service and the company grew on from there.  Currently the company employs over 30,000 people between pilots, stewards, bag handlers, marketing, customer service reps and many other positions that make Northwest one of the top airlines in the world.

In July of 1947, Northwest Airlines pioneered the Great Circle route to Asia, with service to Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, and Manila.  Today, the airline company has over 200 nonstop flights between the United States and Asia each week.

No Corporate, Official or Marketing Blogs
Northwest's site came up empty for any type of blog.  A further search of Technorati, Google, Ask, Yahoo & Live turned up no blogs written by Northwest or any of its senior management team.  I searched for Douglas M. Steenland, Northwest Airlines' CEO, but only blog entries written about him came up in the search.

Nwaplane As a frequent traveler on NWA, this kind of blog could be a real asset.  There are two things that immediately come to mind in recent passing that concerned me as a traveler on this airline.  First is the recent incident of the fake airline tickets being printed, apparently a Google intern built a website that could print these fake tickets and they could pass all the way through security.  As a traveler, I'd want to know how NWA is handling this and how it could possibly affect my trip.

The second is the current state of NWA's contract negotiations with is airline stewards.  Located in there press section is a release about their agreement with the aircraft mechanics, but nothing on the stewards.  As a traveler - I want to know if I'm going to have to deal with any "CHAOS" during my trip, having a blog that could address this would be a great way to communicate with travelers.

NWA does have some good tools for its customers to utilize on its front page, however, being able to communicate on a consistent basis with information from an official source would be a great added benefit to its customer base.  It can also go to setting it apart from all the other airlines clamoring for attention in this very competitive market place. 

November 17, 2006

Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review: Eastman Kodak #155 (EK)

By Li Evans

Kodakwebsite George Eastman, the founder of Eastman Kodak, back in 1888 started with the company's slogan "You Press The Button, And We'll Do the Rest."  Even today that slogan still speaks to Kodak, and how it wants to make taking pictures easy for consumers.  It may not be the glass plates, roll film and photographic paper it once was, but Kodak has always been a company that is a forward thinking enough to adjust and meet its customers' needs.

Official Kodak Blog
Although not a "corporate" style blog, Kodak does have an official blog with posts contributed by employees of the company.  This blog was launched back in September of this year (2006) and is regularly updated with tips, ideas and stories of how the audience can integrate Kodak products into their lives.

Kodak1000words_1 Appropriately named, "A Thousand Words", this blog is something that really speaks to the audience and shares experiences the writers have.  The very first post on Kodak's blog was from Thomas Hoehn, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience at Kodak.com.  Mr. Hoehn gave a brief introduction of the blog and also listed it's goals:

  • Tips and techniques from Kodak experts
  • Inspirational stories brought to life through photography - a.k.a. Kodak Moments
  • Behind the scenes tales. Insider perspectives from passionate people.
  • "Gee, I didn't know Kodak did that!" stories from Mars to Montana of our imaging technology in use
  • Off the wall stuff that most likely will be a surprise to us too!

This is a great way to communicate with customers about what Kodak does best. 

Kodak does have a great press section and also a decent investor section where visitors to the site can find just about everything they need.  It would be great to see the CEO Antonio M. Perez blogging, especially in light of his recent comments that Kodak needs to reinvent itself and focus on a different business model.  However, Kodak's got a great thing going with this 1000 Words blog, adding another blog written by Perez, or Perez and his senior management team would just set them above the rest of the industry even further.

November 13, 2006

Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review: Rite Aid #129 (RAD)

By Li Evans

Riteaidlogo Rite Aid (RAD) is the nation's 3rd largest retail drugstore firm that started from pretty humble beginnings in Scranton, PA.  With its headquarters now in Camp Hill, PA, just over the bridge from the state capital of Harrisburg, Rite Aid is aiming to grow even bigger with the announcement of a merger with Eckerd and Brooks drugstores.

No Corporate Blogs
Riteaidtechnoratichart Like so many corporations these days, Rite Aid has no corporate blogs, nor are any of its executive team members or board members blogging.  In particular I did a search on Mary Sammons and Robert G. Miller (Chairman of the board) and came up empty in finding any blogs about them or written by them.  In light of some recent bad press and questions that are surrounding this merger, it could be a good time to start one.  Technorati charts about 60 mentions a day in blogs for the term "Rite Aid", with a huge spike when they announced the Eckerd/Brooks merger.

Marysammons_1 Rite Aid has something to brag about too, it's president and chief executive, Mary Sammons, is #16 on Forbes' 100 most powerful women list.  She has actually risen, in 2005 she was #23.  A blog from her could not only look great for Rite Aid, but could even go a long way in marketing.  Other women in business could learn from Ms. Sammons - and what a great hook for Rite Aid.

Rite Aid's site is powered by drugstore.com so, at this point, it looks like it would have to be an effort from their marketing team to get any kind of blog going.  There's a few possibilities that Rite Aid could do with a marketing blog, and even with a corporate blog.  It can definitely help with putting a more "personal" feel to their site.

So, here's a tip for John Learish the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Rite Aid.  Why not start a blog about the new Medicare Part D issues and how it affects participants.  No one is addressing that need in the market place right now.  However, don't aim the blog at Seniors, since that audience really doesn't read blogs.  Aim the audience and voice to have a conversation with the children of the participants.  These children are more tech savvy and are assisting their parents in understanding how this program works. Rite Aid could create a "bond" by starting a conversation with this niche market place and engaging them - long before their competition does.  (Unless of course they read this tip!)

November 11, 2006

Welcome NY Times Readers!

By Li Evans

Nytimes_1I'd like to welcome all the NY Times readers who just clicked over from Dan Mitchell's "What's Next, a MySpace Profile" article in the Business-What's Online Section.

The blog entry you're looking to read is here:  SEC Chairman Cox Applauds Use of Corporate Blogs

F500bp Please feel free to poke around Search Marketing Gurus, we're taking part in the research project for the Fortune 500 Blog Project.  The Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review section of SMG might be of some added interest, as I have a few reviews of Coca Cola, Target, Toys R Us, Limited Brands and Liberty Media in it, with more to come!

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