DETROIT -- Among her numerous interests, Katrina Jefferson blogs for a women's fashion and fitness Web site called fabfitfun.com.
The site has more than 100,000 mostly women subscribers ranging in age from 18 to 45, Jefferson says. She also posts a feed on Twitter under the name intelligente.
Jefferson, 36, is just the kind of person Ford Motor Co. is counting on to spread the word about the redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion outside traditional channels. Think of it as relying on good, old-fashioned word of mouth -- 21st-century style.
Jefferson was one of 150 bloggers and "influencers" Ford paid to fly into Detroit from around the United States and from 15 other countries, including Turkey, Russia and China. Ford took them to the Henry Ford museum and gave them a tour of Ford's product development center in Dearborn to show them how cars are designed.
For decades, car companies have paid to bring automotive journalists to auto shows in hopes of generating publicity about their vehicles. Ford is expanding that tactic by inviting bloggers such as Jefferson who normally do not write about cars. The group included bloggers who specialize in ecology and green topics, fashion and electronics.
Ford set aside a section of its auto show stand during media days for the bloggers. Company executives came by to explain various facets of the car and the company.
Jefferson was impressed by the new Fusion.
"I love it because of all the different features," including the MyFord Touch infotainment system, she said. "But the body of the vehicle is what people look at first. "The most intriguing thing to see at the show is how many different brands are pushing eco," she said after a tour around the show floor.
Scott Monty, Ford's manager of digital and multimedia communications, said the number of bloggers Ford invited was up by 50 percent over last year, the first year Ford staged the event.
Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president of marketing, sales and service, said Ford brought the automotive novices to Detroit because "we want to give the brand over to other people to market. Having them here allows us to democratize the show."