Here’s Your Homework For The Weekend

I’ve got a family wedding going on this weekend so I’ll be off-air for a little while. When I come back, I think I’ll write about the topic of “inside vs outside Saab blogging”.

It’s based around a discussion in comments from Saabs United. You can read the comments thread here.

The reasons I’ll write about it are as follows:

  1. My name and former role are mentioned at length in the comment thread, which I believe gives me a right of reply.
  2. I cannot exercise that right of reply at SU because my account there was disabled for commenting a year or so ago, after I wrote this post and contributed one or two comments to this response on SU. Tim and I had a considerable email exchange after that and I haven’t been able to comment on SU since. So I can’t contribute to the SU thread even if I wanted to.
  3. Finally, and most importantly, I think I’ve got something genuine to contribute on the subject thanks to my previous experience with Trollhattan Saab, Saabs United and Inside Saab. I spent close to 7 years writing the book on this.

My aim isn’t to throw a hand grenade here. I’m not interested in territorial pissings. But I would like to add some perspective from someone who’s actually done the job that Tim/Till are doing now, and the job they’re talking about in the comments thread. I do have some experience here, some perspective to add and some things to correct.

So, go have a read and feel free to have some initial discussions here. I’ll read them when I’m back online.

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41 Comments

  1. My thought;

    It is important to have places to go to read from the Inside & outside.

    Generally, the Joe public will look at Inside writings, whereas the enthusiast will go searching for a broader vision, ie: outside comments.

    There will always be ROOM for both.

    Having just read some of the comments on SU, there appears to be a bit of bickering starting……this is not necessary & against what SAAB need right now….

    PEACE

    1. Rose colored glasses is one of the qualities I wish for the enthusiast to have.
      Going ballistic over Spy-pics and Djupstrupery is something we need to have and have longed for quite the time now.

      What I dislike is thinking of an enthusiast site being an institution and authority of absolute truth, damned be the ones that dare to question.

      Yeah, I have been banned as well… Right after I was defriended on FB.

      Cheers/Tom

        1. Yes.

          During time in hospital, q4 -11, someone thought it be a good thing to sever the ties I had to SU. Without notice I was removed from the “team”.

          I still stay in touch with the people that are my friends but hardly ever log on to SU anymore.

          1. Tompa, a very bad call IMO. Haven’t seen anything from you that would have hurt the Saab in the past, ever. Just the opposite.
            Have no idea what happened but there have been times pressure has gotten the best of people and we can only imagine how much, especially Tim has had to deal with since the line shutdown in April 2011, just after taking over Swade’s SU…

      1. In my humble opinion when Swade left SU it quickly became little more than a receptacle for the written wanks of a few crackpots who were too naive to conduct proper due diligence on the information they were given.

        (I must declare, I was barred for offering an independent opinion, based on correct information, that differed from the claptrap they were publishing at that time.)

        Anyway, to the question, a well run company blog from inside an organisation can coexist happily with external channels but sadly I feel that the team at SU are not up to the task. Let’s face it they wouldn’t know how to report a story if it was delivered to them on a silver platter by a world-class journalist : )

        (In the interests of context and before anyone jumps down Joe’s throat for being quite forthright, it should be noted that Joe worked for Saab PR for many years and thus has a unique insight into this question. Joe was my main point of contact within Saab PR throughout the sale of Saab in 2009/10. He left Saab to start his own consultancy after Saab were sold to Spyker – SW).

  2. I think the two roles are quite different. Sure, as an independent blog there’s a duty to report news, but you can do a lot more than that – there’s room for speculation, excitement, talking over wish lists and examining new tech or ideas that we’d like to see, and of course all the features around existing and old Saab models and owners, mods, stories, meet ups.. There’s loads for them to cover. It’s not hard to engage fans and to start discussion around what we all dream the future might be.

  3. Keep up the Saab chat on here. I’m sure you still have good connections in Sweden. I’d much rather read info on here than SU. Seems that he (Tim) is only looking out for the workers in Trollhattan (we all care about them) and not the Saab fans around the world.

    I think a return of ‘Inside Saab’ is a great idea IF they plan on going global again. I’m not sure how well you speak Mandarin…or Cantonese.

    1. It all seemed very contradictory to me. And nearly everything that Tim wants NEVS to do, Victor and Steve did at both, even before Steve was officially hired.

  4. Since I suggest inside and outside SAAB again here is my reaction. (Sorry Swade I did not know it was an a open nerve) SU should never get their personal aversity involved in a blog. Freedom of speech, so you should also must be able yo post on SU. That said.

    On topic I think NEVS should start story telling about the brand SAAB. Since they haven’t (sufficient) cars to talk about. The one they have is perceived old, allthough we the fans may feel different. If they want the worldwide SAAB community to get involved, SU and other blogs like a very good German one (I am Dutch) are there for the fans and some followers. But the majority of potential clients still think SAAB is banktrupt. If you want to sell SAAB’s again than NEVS should get the full potential clients involved and do the story telling themselves.

    If you take a look outside the car industry (think differently) you will see that social media, facebook and blogs, are being used by company’s for the branding and involvement of consumers. Companies do this from the inside. So to my opinion it was a great move when SAAB started inside SAAB. That does not have to be a Swede, could be Swade, Most important, tell the story of the brand SAAB and get started now. You do not have to wait on the cars.

    If you sustain the PR of NEVS, “we only tell something if we have something to say”, and the SU point of view “We know a lot more but I won’t/can not tell you, because I don’t want to harm the interests of NEVS” than there will be no public for NEVS to sell their SAAB’s to. Unless your startegy is China only, in this market SAAB is just an other luxery brand form Europe.

    As to you, please keep writing about SAAB and use the contacts you have. As to SU, Let it be.

  5. SU is clearly viewed by some as a mouthpiece for NEVS, particularly in recent times. Balance is hard to mantain in the present situation with all the ‘goings on’. But what else can they do? SU is not what it once was, surprise surprise…but to have your comments vetted and revoked smacks of much more than bias.
    I read, follow and comment on both pages and it is a good thing to be able to get balance from this site. Everyone knows SU is not going to bag anything NEVS does. They just can’t. SU could be perceived as a defacto advertising and media release machine but some distance from NEVS to this site is actually an advantage. It is sort of like when you sell a car to a friend and you dont like what he is doing to it. And you need to keep your distance…so you don’t get caught up in anything vitriolic or toxic. Which is where this is rapidly heading.

  6. Robert wrote:

    “As to you, please keep writing about SAAB and use the contacts you have. As to SU, Let it be.”

    I agree 100%.

    Of course an inside company blog run by an employee and outside blogs run be enthusiast can coexist.

    The inside one is a way to share information in a more direct form to those who are more than customers just buying the product. It is building the brand without just using faceless PR speak. Someone (a human being) is there talking about it all, and showing that real devoted people actually makes up a company.

    The outside one(s) are those digging for information, posting stuff that my always not be flattering, speculating about products, wishing for things to happen, talking about whats good and bad with the products. These are the enthusiast that can earn trust from the company through their integrity, but should be able to exist without any formal ties to the company.

    I actually read the comments Swade linked to here (looong time since I visited SU). I think SU-Tim desperately wants to be the official and approved blog source, but at the same time pretending to be a regular outsider and Saab owner. I think he thrives in running around at Stallbacka with a badge and talking to old firiends, so that he can write about all he sees and knows but can’t divulge. But either you are invited as a guest and everyone is clear on that you will write about it that way, or your are one of the team with all the responsibilities and gagging orders.

    I hope NEVS (when they are ready to engage the public with products) start an inside blog of the same type Swade had, and just leave SU for what it is and treat them as an ordinary media outlet.

    1. You’ve totally nailed it CTM. Exactly how I feel.

      Plus, I would add, it was a sad day when Swade sold SU….

      At least we can come here for a balanced, sensible view. 🙂

      Keep up the unbiased analysis Swade – we love you for it!

    2. CTM, you’ve saved me a bunch of typing!

      One thing to add. As far as I can recall, the idea of having a serious blog that is dedicated to one automotive brand is Swade’s. There were fan blogs prior to trollhattansaab (and SU), but I don’t remember seeing anything that did serious journalistic legwork on current issues.

      The closest equivalent at the time were sites like VWVortex and Allpar that cover history, press releases, and rumours, but that don’t take an editorial stance.

      I think that SU has transitioned to being a traditional fan site. That is absolutely fine as long as everyone is clear on that point. It’s good to have a place where you always cheer for the home team.

      It should go without saying that this whole made-up conflict between Tim and Swade (as documented in the SU comments) is absolutely silly. I understand that Tim feels like he’s under the shadow of the “prior management,” but the only way to escape that is by making his own mark. Time is on his side.

    3. CTM wrote “I think SU-Tim desperately wants to be the official and approved blog source, but at the same time pretending to be a regular outsider and Saab owner.”

      That captures Tim’s dilemma in a nutshell. Tim is betwixt and between. Either you’re independent, or you’re not. If someone is paying you something, you lose a bit of independence or bite the hand that feeds you, but you can still be relatively independent if you divulge whatever relationship there is. Swade struck the balance pretty well: he divulged what he was able to dig up from his deep throat sources; he criticized when he thought criticism was due; and he cheered when he thought cheering was in order. Was he always right? None of us are. But there was never a doubt that Swade was calling things as he sees them.

      Meanwhile, Tim seems to be so afraid of upsetting NEVS or endangering the employment of those who have or will be hired by NEVS that it’s hard to consider SU the voice of the Saab community. I have no doubt that Tim loves Saab as much as the rest of us, that he thinks that what he’s doing is best for Saab, and that striking the right balance is not and easy thing when you are dealing with an incredibly closed mouth company. It’s his blog and he has a right to do with it and say what he wants. But I respectfully disagree, the Saab community wants an open and free wheeling discussion of Saab, warts and all. If NEVS can’t take a bit of well meaning critical comments in a blog, they’re not ready for prime time. Tim may be bringing them useful input behind closed doors and it sounds like some at NEVS are reading SU, but Tim hasn’t proved to many of us that he represents the voice of the Saab community vs. the voice of NEVS. Which will it be, Tim? Make up your mind.

      1. Concur. What made SU worthwhile even after the appearance of IS was that it was in a position to poke, cajole, critique and leak.

        At this point, SU is just puff pieces and ads. I usually just read the headlines in my feed and mark all as “read” without actually bothering to read whatever non-news has been posted.

        I think Tim is going to need to face the piper on this sooner, rather than later.

  7. When Swade sold SU I said that he should continue in control of the site, or close it. SU have the right to block whoever they wish (I think it a mistake personally) and that was my fear at the time – that Swade would disagree with the new management at some point (or they with him. The fact that I follow this site and not SU should make clear where my loyalites lie.

    Swade may feel there is room for two blogs (in selling SU knowing he was going to be blogging from inside tells me he does) but Tim clearly does not.

    For me the real question comes down to who knew what when SU was sold and none of us know that (although Swade has always seemed to be totally honest and ethical in his dealings) except for those involved.

  8. how long is a piece of string… swade will have his view and su will have theirs… always wise to allow the right to reply… so swade have you “banned” su in retaliation? if i post on swadeology will i get banned from su, heaven forbid nevs may not even allow me to order a new saab, this may end up like the current australian-indonesian “phone tapping” saga…

  9. I read this post before any comments were up but I wisely waited until others more eloquent and insightful than me would say what I thought. So, in summary, I vote wholeheartedly for what ROBERT, CTM and HWEISMAN said. 🙂

    However, I think Tim needs to develop a tougher hide or less sensitive ears. I like Tim and he is very trustworthy, but the whole purpose of a blog is to let the opinions roll. It’s not the place for censorship, except to censor those making personal attacks, which you certainly did not. I will continue to visit here, looking for your opinion on matters that I care about.

    1. I forgot that Tim is no longer majority owner, as Terry9000k pointed out, so I amend my comment to say “the saabsunited crew needs to develop a tougher hide…” rather than just Tim.

  10. Actually Tim is no longer the majority owner of SU.
    He sold the majority of his stake to another commentator, Till or Trued, I think…..

  11. The topic of this article is inside vs outside Saab blogging. We haven’t had inside blogging since the bankruptcy. When Swade was editing SU the articles were very insightful and I really enjoyed reading them, logging in every morning to see what was there. I don’t know how he managed to do this for so long, by himself. However I found that I was less interested in Inside Saab and even though it was a very difficult time for Saab I think that Swade was really restricted because he was now working for the company and had to follow the rules. I was expecting more from this website. Swade just couldn’t say what he wanted to say and I think that this would have been the case even if the company had been doing well.

    So maybe Saab/NEVS should have the ability to provide guest editorials or articles to SU as a semi combined approach. Maybe an inside blog by itself isn’t that effective. What do other car companies do? Also I think it would be useful if they helped to provide extra resources and access to people/information to the team at SU.

    I’d also like to say that whilst the team at SU are pro-NEVS and pro-Saab so they generally should be, in my view. Not everything they say about NEVS is positive, but most is, which is to be expected of fans. Also I think it is easy to lose sight of the fact that everyone at the moment does this for free. Is SU helping Saab? Yes I’m sure they are and so they should. I still enjoy reading SU. I really also like the fact that there are multiple bloggers and the community seems to be more involved.

  12. I have no problem at all with both inside and outside bloggs. In fact, I do think that is a good thing.

    I have no knowledge if SU was taking a hit by saab inside or not. I read both with interest.

    I don’t have a problem with what is written on SU, on contrary, I like the writing.

    What I do unlike as SU is the comment section.

    If the owners of the site want the commenters to be pro NEVS, so be it. It is thete site! But, some commenters is alowed to take such a big space that it suffucates anyone else.

    That has made the SU crew and the followers in one team, and the rest of the commenter the other team.

    But everyone else who used to take part of the discussions seems to be out or only reading the articles.

    But there is a place for both bloggs, and I would like two typs of bloggs. Inside and outside.

    1. I think this is right on. The sort of tension that Tim and Rune experience with not wanting to alienate NEVS (and perhaps being righteously optimistic) is more than outweighed by the constant, nonstop, endless negative refrain in the comments section about what NEVS woulda shoulda coulda, and the concomitant hysteria anytime the “E” in NEVS is brought up, and how they are alienating SAAB loyalists who by the way claim they won’t buy an EV anyway. It’s totally suffocating, as TTAero rightly points out, and I feel like middle ground readers (well, me) are trapped between cheerleaders and doomsayers.

      So to me–another voice would be welcome, particularly if it could skew toward a more balanced “inside/outside” perspective.

  13. Let it go to the keeper Swade. I’m sure it stings a bit but honestly, its a storm in a teacup. Schoolyard nonsense from boys wearing mens pants.

  14. Tim? Paranoid? Well, perhaps more than little. II just read old Swade’s comments that allegedly got him kicked out of SU. None of which were personal in any way that I could see. If Tim can’t take a little heat, and if you’ve been following him over time, you know that is true. Well, then he needs to get out in the kitchen. By the way, whatever happened to Jason Powell? He is not commented in over two months on SU. He was the voice of stability and fairness, but unless he is taking a long vacation, he appears to be gone. Lots of instability at SU. Why? Also, why does Tim put with the likes of Angelo. Don’t get me wrong, I think Angelo is making a lot of good points, Angelo is also very entertaining, and he has certainly attacked people more personally on SU then most. So why is Angelo still there? I can’t figure this stuff out. All I can tell you is, if you trust the Chinese. You need to rethink everything..

    1. Chris, after reading Tim’s and Swade’s writings for years I have to say one can only admire the passion they have for the brand. Both guys are also of very high character and a bit sensitive 😉 (sorry) so no surprice a ‘family feud’ happended over something so little -which was most likely a missunderstanding anyway- i.e. to pay someone a visit.

      Anyway, agree fully that it’s strange how Angelo can be on SU slamming NEVS 5 times aday and Swade is banned to comment when Tim is talking about him?! This has to change quickly or SU comment section might aswell be deleted completetly.
      The information however the SU Crew provides is invalueble at this point if you own a Saab post-2003, without it we wouldn’t know *** what’s going on at THN, the parts company or new owner.

      It can not can come as a surprice to the Chinese that if they buy what was rest of SAAB and they initially just wanted to clean the air 10.000 km east of Sweden, that there would be a huge outcry from brand loyalists.
      I however see a good chance that the Saab spirit rubs off and we could have a real car company on our hands in a few years – unless they dump the heritage completely?
      I was also pleased to here last week that KJJ said they will to provide cars that are usefull in Sweden (have enough range) at least in the near fututre. It’s not enough though but a nod in the right direction and if there is the slightest chance a Phoenix based Nevs/SAAB will eventually have a model built to compete with an A6 wagon I’ll stick around.

      1. Personally, I think Angelo brings a little sanity and balance to SU. And if you read him carefully, he never gets personal. It’s obvious that he loves Saab, but feels NEVS needs to speak out or all will be loss. But obviously, there’s a pretty thin skin there somewhere: Swade is banned; Tompa is banned; Joe Oliver is banned. These were all extremely important contributors to SU. Who’s next?

        1. The problem with Angelo isn’t his opinions, it’s the fact that every fifth comment on SU is him re-stating the same 3 points: Nevs are idiots because they won’t reveal everything right away; Saabs should be as cheap as Camrys; Nevs should drop plans for electric cars.
          You can bank on those 3 comments, several times per thread, regardless of the contents of the blog entry.

  15. Ah, ‘The Asian Way’.
    Anyone who has business experience with the Chinese will most likely know what is coming…
    If they don’t like what they see they will make you wait, and wait and wait… Seen this before?
    It will be very interesting to see how the first batch of cars is received in China by the Government Officials, and by the public. interesting times await.
    SW, write what you write and sleep at night…

  16. Thoughtful piece, Swade.

    My observations are; “Inside” type blogs will always be looked on from the outside with a degree of skepticism, given they are always going to have to be ‘on message’. Given the raft of enthusiast bloggers out there, a company has no difficulty in getting the message it wants to out there, and the stuff it doesn’t, will get out there anyway. I have no idea if the “majors” (ie Merc , Bmw, Audi) have blogs per se- or just use other social media outlets. But their message gets out there just fine.

    Back in the day – I would sometimes read inside saab, but I would always read SU.

    I think SU has done a pretty good job since the NEVS era of still finding something to write about, even when there was basically no story at all. Tim has been quite open about what his goal was/is: to support the owner of that factory, and the economy of Trollhattan. I have no problem with that. If that means he ends up being used as a mouthpiece for them, then so be it. Its their site now; they can do what they like.

    I think SU has mellowed a bit since the wild ride of 2011. I remember almost getting banned, because I called Jeff out on a fawning puff piece he did on Alex Mascioli and North Street Capital, when he “was singlehandedly going to save Saab” I think Jeff responded by yanking all the comments

  17. P.S. Hope the family wedding went well, but I sure hope you didn’t go dressed like that 😉

    Must say, looking at that stuff on SU, I found it hard to believe that people would actually suggest there was no room for Inside + Outside to co-exist! Nevs can and should get themselves an “official” blog / facebook page / whatever. But they don’t blow their own trumpet much even on their official News page. Q: Is this just a reflection of a different culture?

    I keep up-to-date on SU, but find some of it lacking in substance. Swadeology is in my favourites.

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