FedEx exec shows opportunity for online advertising

Crowd listening to Mark Colombo of FedEx speak

Mark Colombo, VP of electronic channels and strategic marketing at FedEx, just gave a speech at the Internet Strategy Forum in Portland, Oregon. He took quite a bit of heated questioning from the audience because he came out strongly as being anti-blog and anti-participation in online communities. Lots of people came up to me after Mark was done and asked what I thought, because he basically was saying that FedEx has chosen to not participate in online communities, rather relying on their brand to speak for the company.

One guy in the audience told Mark that he could get better Google results if they would turn on a blog. Mark disagreed. Maybe the audience guy had a point. When I do a search for shipping on Google I see that UPS is far higher on the list than FedEx is.

But, I don’t get defensive anymore when execs tell audiences they don’t want their companies to blog. Huh?

I see it as an advertising opportunity. At some point FedEx will do something that they want us all to know about. Now, other, more enlightened companies might just call up 40 bloggers and write something on their exec’s Facebook page, which would help spread the news. In my own keynote I told how I told 15 people a year ago that I was leaving Microsoft and that turned into 50 million media impressions (according to Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft’s PR firm). But there’s lots of companies like FedEx. Apple and Target are two others that I can think of. They’ll just buy lots of advertising and have to hire expensive PR firms to get the word out.

Heck, if every company participated in online conversations there’d be no business opportunities for content guys like me.

I’m having PodTech’s sales team give Mark a call.

UPDATE: Mark does monitor online communities, even though he mostly chooses not to have FedEx participate. He told us there’s a Flickr group where photographers pay attention to the “hidden” arrow in the FedEx logo.