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As a hopeless aviation geek, I love the new Boeing Web site which leads not with corporate boilerplate, but with big, splashy photos of its airplanes and its people doing cool things. The aim, as Randy Tinseth, vice president, marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes says in his blog, is to publicize its people and its customer as well as its technology, to make it easier for readers to share content on social media, and to open a “wider, more productive two-way dialogue” with the world.

The site is certainly engaging, with dramatic still shots leading to videos of an ice-covered 787 undergoing deep-freeze testing, a personal story  of how a Boeing employee played a role in the Apollo 13 rescue and a piece on an airborne laser missile defense system. In short, it looks and feels much like the glossy corporate publications companies did when they had fatter marketing budgets, and customers had more time to read.

Even stripping out the paper and distribution costs, producing quality content like this isn’t cheap. Which leads me to wonder about the business case behind this redesign. Boeing is in some ways a business to consumer company (we all use their products) but the actual purchasers are airlines, aircraft leasing companies and governments. We rarely buy tickets based on the brand of aircraft we’ll fly, a contract for a new airborne tanker fleet, Joe and Jill Public don’t have a lot of clout in such decisions.

So while I love to see someone still doing fun  feature journalism, I wonder how much dollar value there is in such “brand journalism” for a company like Boeing. And I also wonder exactly what “two-way” dialogue Boeing is hoping to generate, with what constituencies, and what they will do with the feedback.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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