Former CNN bureau chief leads Chrysler’s brand journalism team

Seeking to spark media stories, Chrysler’s in-house writers and videographers cover everything from Motley Crüe’s last tour to a guy who drove around in his Jeep helping snowbound people.

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Chrysler and Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne was at the company’s Belvidere, Ill., plant, which assembles the Dodge Dart, when he saw a familiar face in the crowd.

Ed Garsten, a former CNN correspondent and bureau chief who heads Chrysler Digital Media, had brought a crew to shoot stills and video, and produce stories.

Marchionne told Garsten with a smile, “You’re everywhere, just like the reporters that hound me.'”

It was an emblematic moment in what Chrysler calls “corporate journalism.” The team looked more like journalists covering a story than PR guys staging an event.

“And that’s exactly the way we want to be looked at: as reporters,” Garsten says. “We’re covering the story, just like everybody else.”

Early innovation

Chrysler Digital Media was one of the early adopters of what is more widely known as brand journalism. Starting in 2006, Chrysler abandoned video news releases for more journalistic video stories that are spread across social media and Chrysler’s website.

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