The challenge of blogging about good news: Boeing

In the last few days, there has been a flurry of media news about Boeing, including today’s story from the Wall Street Journal that Air India places 50 jet order from Boeing, value $6 billion [sub required] and yesterday’s similar news in the WSJ that Boeing beats Airbus for crucial job: 96 jets ordered by Air Canada [sub required].
The challenge of writing about this turn of events also revolves around the first test flight of the much lauded Airbus A380 tomorrow. The BBC reports, in Airbus A380 to fly on Wednesday, that:
“European aircraft maker Airbus has scheduled the maiden flight of its giant A380 jumbo jet, the world’s largest passenger plane, for Wednesday. The first flight of the twin-deck aircraft has been keenly anticipated since it was unveiled at a glamorous and high profile ceremony in January. Airbus has invested heavily in the A380 and hopes it will defend its position as the leading passenger plane maker.”


What catches my attention is the challenge that Boeing blogger (and VP of Marketing) Randy Baseler faces now in writing about the events of the week, particularly given his pointed articles about Boeing versus Airbus. (in The Game Changer he criticizes the Airbus 350 as “derivative, late 1980’s design, and limited composite design” when compared to the “all new integrated design” of the Boeing 787, for example)
Oh, and to sprinkle another ingredient in the stew, the United States and European Union are fighting about who has been subsidizing which company. The EU accuse the United States of subsidizing Boeing illegally, while the US accuses the European Union of subsidizing Airbus illegally. Diplomatic talks broke down and, as the Beeb reports, “it looks as if both sides are heading for a showdown at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).” This wouldn’t be the first time the two companies sparred at the WTO either. It’s dry reading, but 2001’s Airbus versus Boeing Revisited: International Competition in the Aircraft Market [PDF] offers some interesting insight into the situation too.
So if you were Randy, how would you be framing your next weblog entry? Would you write about the sales wins, the tens of billions of new orders placed by Air Canada and Air India? And if you did, would you skip mentioning your primary competitor altogether, or would you reiterate your product advantages and opine that they’re what tipped the scale in your company’s favor?
Writing about the WTO dispute is something that’s probably more nuanced (and with more legal pitfalls) than would work in a blog, whether or not blogging is “the next big thing” or not. On the other hand, explaining Boeing’s perspective on the subsidies it receives from the U.S. Government and how it’s different than the subsidies that Airbus receives from the E.U. could be superb reading and an unusual opportunity to reach the public with important Boeing communication.
In fact, Randy has written about the dispute, framing it as cheating in a poker game: Five Card Draw. It’s a good presentation of these issues (though perhaps a bit long for a blog entry)
WTO or not, I’d definitely be writing about the sales wins for Boeing. It’s a perfect use for a corporate blog, even for a massive public firm like Boeing.
But that’s just me.
What would you write about, if you were in Randy’s shoes?

6 comments on “The challenge of blogging about good news: Boeing

  1. The one piece of corporate CEO advice that ever really stuck in my head was that of Henry Ford II: “Never complain, never explain.”
    In today’s vernacular: “No whining in public.” Nobody likes a whiner, especially a corporate whiner.
    Think deeper about your own “message”. Sure, you’ll have to adapt to a changing competitive market, but stick to *your* message and *your* game plan. Figure ways to subtley weave responses into your own messages, but avoid like the plague whining, complaining, or defensively responding to even direct harsh attacks from all quarters. Your messages should always be of such a high quality, done with a “take the high ground” approach, that everybody simply stands back in awe and says “Wow… look at those guys go”. Corporate messages need to inspire genuine pride, not exemplify cynicism and greed. Rather than engaging your competition in messy public squabbling, leapfrog them and let them admire your dust trail.
    — Jack Krupansky

  2. A partial answer from Randy: he’s blogged about the Air Canada sale on his Weblog:
    http://www.boeing.com/randy/archives/2005/04/o_air_canada.html
    The article is a nice example of how to put *context* into a business blog posting rather than just sharing a press release or other uninteresting news snippet. For example:
    “What’s really fascinating is the way Air Canada plans to make use of the new 777s and 787s to grow its current long-range non-stop routes, particularly to China and Latin America. Air Canada says it’s planning to fly 777-300ERs between Vancouver and Tokyo. Other new airplanes will allow Air Canada to implement its recently announced expansion to China markets. They’re also planning to add daily non-stop service from Toronto to Shanghai, increase flights between Toronto and Beijing, and add daily Vancouver to Guangzhou service. Air Canada also plans to expand cargo service to China.
    “This is the essence of what we’ve been saying for years about long-range twin-engines flying point to point. The 787 and 777 work perfectly together, allowing Air Canada to respond to seasonal demand with two aircraft models that can fly with the same speed, range, and passenger comfort levels, while offering different seating and cargo capacities to match demand on its routes.”

  3. “So if you were Randy, how would you be framing your next weblog entry?”
    I’d reflect on what readers may be coming to my place to hear about.
    “Would you write about the sales wins, the tens of billions of new orders placed by Air Canada and Air India? And if you did, would you skip mentioning your primary competitor altogether, or would you reiterate your product advantages and opine that they’re what tipped the scale in your company’s favor?”
    This I’m not sure about, because gigantic aircraft contracts seem like a zero-sum game, and the dynamics are likely different from the software market (where the actual competition is inertia).
    It seems like it’s always practical to write about how you feel about the event… easier than writing what it “means”, true?
    jd/mm

  4. This is a comment with respect to Randy Baseler’s “The Game Changer”. I find it interesting that the technology comparison he uses for AIRBUS A350 in his definition “is a 1980 design”
    Even if it were true, it begs the question why would any one want to compare something new to something they believe is old technology? I believe this to be poor salesmanship. If you wish to tout your horn Mr. Baseler, make a better choice.
    As for the number of orders placed, well any one who is in sales knows very well that purchases are decisions based upon need and affordability. If a mid-size commercial airplane is the need due to shorter routes and smaller airports, then why would you purchase a giant jumbo jet?

  5. In my opinion, the real story everyone needs to note is the $6.9 Billion Air India is spending with Boeing, an American Company. With all the focus on offshoring and jobs going to India, one should ask, how come so much money is being spent by airlines?
    Routes to Asia is growing so fast, that even American Airlines and Delta Airlines are planning to make money on Asian routes than on domestic routes. That’s how, when Asia grows, many businesses elsewhere grow also. With a potential middle class of 200+ million in China and India, U.S companies should be busy plotting on taking advantage of TWO additional markets that have the population of the U.S!
    My 2 cents!
    Nari

  6. Boeing is wise to spread production contracts around the world. It can take advantage of the many local procurement and funding biases the way Airbus has in the past with European countries. It also allows for Boeing to use the best technology available. Airbus did well with the government support it received in the past, but that advantage has been erased. It is vey unlikely that any Japanese airline will buy A350�s, for example. Let�s face it, Europeans are as snotty, condescending, and racist as ever; arrogance blinds them.Given the chance they would be out colonizing and robbing coutries at gunpoint all over again. When are they going to make amends for all that? Ruyard Kiplings’ “Take up the white mans’ burden” is a hysterical laugh if read aloud today. And they still believe in such stupid things as fascism and communism. How is Airbus going to get by on a smattering of orders from loyal Euro carriers, despotic arab countries and Iran? Let us not foget the value of the Euro to the dollar.

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