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Tools | Quinn Bowman

Joining Web 2.0
New tools make creating corporate-sponsored—and monitored—online communities easier.
McDonald's takes advantage of Web 2.0 with its Corporate Responsibility Blog

It’s clear that blogging, which continues to gain momentum as a serious medium for expression for anyone with a keyboard and internet connection, has reached the mainstream when McDonald’s shells out money to create a corporate responsibility blog.

With the growing popularity of blogs, wikis, and other interactive and user-generated content, a trend dubbed by some as web 2.0, a Canadian company called iUpload has stepped in to help some of the largest corporations in the world create online communities for both internal and external communications.

The company’s Customer Conversation System provides large companies with a variety of tools to set up what iUpload founder Robin Hopper calls “communities of interest” inside and outside the organization.

Clients get a full IT staff-supported set of content management tools to create blogs, podcasts, and other communications devices that can project a web image or foster discussions inside of a company. “These communities of interest embrace social media … blogs, discussion forums, video blogging, all of the above,” Hopper says.

McDonald’s, an iUpload client along with the Sierra Club, American Express, Intel, and many other large organizations, uses the Customer Conversation System to create a blog focusing on the company’s efforts in corporate responsibility. The blog is written primarily by Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility Bob Langert and Vice President for Worldwide Quality, Food Safety, and Nutrition Catherine Adams, but also features comments from an unlikely author: anyone who reads the site.

But not so fast. McDonald’s efforts to communicate its side of the story on how it affects the environment and the health of its customers is not exactly an open forum, despite the site’s title: “Open for Discussion.” Although readers can comment on posts, the blog’s terms of use state that the company can choose which comments make it on the board, and which don’t.

The posts from Langert, Adams, and others do have substance though, diving into discussions about how McDonald’s bigwigs think about the relationship between science and ethics, sustainability, corporate evaluation, and even raising children.

In her April 5 post, Kathleen Bannan, McDonald’s manager of corporate social responsibility, attempted to personalize the company by talking about her concerns for her children’s future and posting a picture of her on a bike ride with her daughters. Then, she asks her readers for help:

“So my question to all the mothers—and fathers—out there is, ‘What can I do to help you see the McDonald’s I see?’ More importantly, ‘What can I do at this company—and in the field of corporate responsibility as a whole—to help you look your children in the eye at the end of the day with the confidence that everything will be all right—that they will grow up to see a better and brighter tomorrow?’” she writes.

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