By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Feb 28, 2011 at 8:28 AM

The Greater Milwaukee Auto Show is on at the Frontier Airlines Center, and it offers the perfect chance to see what's new in the car world. It's also a chance for hometown guy Eric Peterson to come home, hit his favorite Tosa spots (Peterson's a Wauwatosa West grad) and talk to me about his work at Ford, social media and more.

I caught up with Petersen and asked him several questions. Stop at the Ford area at the Auto Show to see him.

Jeff Sherman:  What's your role at Ford?

Eric Peterson:  I'm the truck and SUV/CUV communications manager -- advertising/marketing for those vehicle lines.

JS:  Interesting. Give me an example of how Ford has best used online/social media?

EP:  We partly revealed the new 2011 Explorer online via Facebook. Facebook has allowed us to share the new model directly in nine cities and then immediately with all our "fans" who follow us on Facebook. This form of social media was just the beginning of conversation with our customers- we use it as an immediate forum to take questions or concerns from community of over 140,000 about the new Explorer. To keep the conversation vibrant and engaging, we then respond directly through videos featuring people ranging from everyday engineers to celebrities like Bret Michaels. Now we're transitioning that conversation to another level by launching a new program entitled "Go. Do. Adventures." This program is designed to showcase the Explorer and it's customers' ability to handle all types of adventures. We're inviting people to name any type of adventure and if selected, Ford will make it happen.  

In addition, we've also been very active in social media for our trucks, more so through the forums and blogs, where we found many truckers get their information. We also hold live chats with engineers, another way for truckers to get unfiltered access to the people designing and building our trucks. It simply boils down to illustrating that level of authenticity and unfiltered access that people are searching for online.

JS:  Is TV advertising still relevant for automakers? Or has online/social taken over?

EP:  Absolutely, when you're trying to build awareness, TV is still an effective tool. It allows Ford the ability to convey things to people on TV very efficiently and allow them a quick opportunity to connect with the brand. That said, online community continues to grow and affect our plans.

JS:  How will the recent F-150 airbag and door spring recall impact Ford?

EP:  Our customers are our top priority and they're the reason we've been the top selling trucks for 34 straight years, so it's imperative that any concerns are addressed immediately.

JS:  What can I expect to see at the auto show this year?

EP:  The most fuel-efficient line-up of car and trucks including all new 40 mpg Ford Focus. Be one of the first to come down and check it out. And if a car isn't what you are looking for, the 2011 North American Truck of the year, the Ford Explorer, is on display. If trucks are your thing, the all-new F -- 150 with EcoBoost engine is waiting for you to discover it.

JS:  And finally, for the record Tosa East is still better than West. Defend if you'd like.

EP:  There's no need to defend, as we always say, "West is best, East is least."

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.