GM: Still Reticent On Its Recall Response

Mar 27 2014, 3:02pm CDT | by

As you probably know, General Motors is in the midst of a crisis involving defective ignition switches in some of its cars.  The defect has been linked to 12 deaths and at least 31 accidents over the past decade.

What’s more, according to The New York Times, GM had received reports of the faulty switches as early as 2001—three years earlier than previously disclosed.

With the tumult surrounding “Switchgate” growing, I drafted a blog on March 13, asking “Where’s is GM’s CEO?”

Mary Barra was about to “come out.”  She authorized the release of an employee video to the press and public, and shortly thereafter, hosted a press conference at the company’s headquarters.  She spent 45 minutes with 13 representatives of major media outlets, according to PR and marketing trade publisher, Jack O’Dwyer, who writes that “there were no restrictions on the questions and everything was on the record. There is no video of the session.”

It was definitely an advance…but, in my opinion, only an incremental advance.  She did answer many safety questions in her orchestrated press conference, but the methodology of inviting reporters selectively for a company dependent on customers in almost all income strata was disappointing.  It is not too late to communicate more broadly, more rapidly.

She missed an opportunity to have an open press conference (which any reporter could attend) or a series of meetings across the U.S. with customers, their families and the American public—to which the press was invited. My guess is had she had an open press conference in New York or Detroit, it would have been standing room only.

As noted in my previous blog, and worth repeating, her unorthodox employee video released to the media had both good and bad in it. She finally admits that “terrible things happened,” but doesn’t specify what they are.  Why not be specific about the tragedy of the deaths?  One would think that, as a more than 30-year employee, she could have added further perspective to her assertion that “something went wrong with our process in this instance.”  Shouldn’t she have a clue about what the “something” was?  Was it a legal clamp that caused this hesitating?  The PR folks and the attorneys are sometimes on opposite ends, but in this case the marketplace will rule.

She did reiterate the importance of putting customers first and subsequently announced the appointment of Jeff Boyer as the company’s first safety leader, charged with insuring that GM has “the tools and resources to quickly identify and resolve product safety issues, starting immediately,” according to an article in the Detroit Free Press.

Nevertheless, we’re still left with the mystery of why the ignition switches factor didn’t merit immediate action.

In today’s transparent world, I’d say that Barra’s actions were timid.  I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt, but she has been slow to come to the table since the revelations first began rolling in, more than a dozen years ago.   The logical inference in this situation is that she had to get things in order before talking.  Maybe there was something to hide.  Not a shining example of best-in-class.  It is particularly dangerous for a huge business dependent on trust to violate a fundamental rule of crisis communications:  tell it fast and tell it all.

Overall, I feel that, collectively, her responses fell short in detailing the steps GM is adopting to prevent a recurrence of the problems that led to this crisis.   A new appointment, an intimate little press conference, direct mail targeting owners and a customer service hotline just aren’t significant enough to transform regret into a new way of doing business.

Source: Forbes Auto

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
Our sister site I4U News is giving away a brand new iPad Air or if you can wait an iPad Air 2. This is an $499 value.
 
 
Your Parent Or Kid Moved In: Are You Covered?
A record 57 million Americans now live in multigenerational family households — double the number in 1980, according to a new Pew Research Center study. And I bet many of them have the wrong homeowner’s or renters...
 
 
Pandora Looks to Challenge Terrestrial Radio's Dominance in Cars
Pandora Media is one of the largest Internet radio providers in the U.S. with more than 75 million active users. While the company’s active user count has increased at a robust pace historically, it is likely to slow...
 
 
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
Are General Manager Salaries About To Skyrocket? Will There Be A Front Office Salary Cap?
It’s January 2026. New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner gets out of his driverless car and triumphantly marches before the gathered press to introduce his prized new free agent. It’s a record-breaking contract—over...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Bush shoe-tossing painting hits record at Doha auction
Doha, Oct 15 (IANS/EFE) A controversial painting by Iranian artist Mahmud Obaidi, depicting an Iraqi journalist throwing shoe in 2008 at then US president George W. Bush, was sold for $62,500 at a Sotheby's auction in...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
US offers $45 mn bounty for eight terror leaders
Washington, Oct 15 (IANS) The US said Tuesday it is offering rewards totalling up to 45 million dollars for information on eight key leaders of the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorist organisation. The...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
UNSC extends peacekeeping mission's term in Abyei
United Nations, Oct 15 (IANS) The UN Security Council (UNSC) has renewed the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Abyei border region between Sudan and South Sudan. In an unanimously adopted resolution, the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Ebola cases in West Africa could reach 10,000 per week: WHO
Geneva, Oct 15 (IANS) The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa could reach 5,000 to 10,000 cases per week by the first week of December. "Quite frankly, ladies and...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Turkey, Singapore sign strategic partnership agreement
Ankara, Oct 15 (IANS) Turkey and Singapore have signed a strategic partnership agreement to boost economic, political and cultural cooperation, as well as security collaboration, during the official visit of...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Christina Aguilera is returning to 'The Voice' USA
Christina Aguilera will return to 'The Voice' USA next year. The 'Your Body' hitmaker, who previously shared a rotating spot on the judging panel with Shakira, has been replaced by Gwen Stefani this season as she is...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kesha's music producer hits back
Kesha is being countersued by her record company boss, Dr. Luke. The 41-year-old music producer, who runs Kemosabe Records, claims the 27-year-old 'Tik Tok' singer is a liar and is trying to extort him after she accused...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Jason Derulo won't get back together with Jordin Sparks
Jason Derulo insists his split from Jordin Sparks is permanent. The 'Talk Dirty' hitmaker, who recently ended his relationship with the 'No Air' singer after three years of dating, has ruled out getting back together...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Josh Groban feels 'very lucky' to be dating Kat Dennings
Josh Groban feels ''very lucky'' to be dating Kat Dennings. The 'Brave' hitmaker was very nervous before singing in front of the '2 Broke Girls' actress for the first time at the Carousel of Hope Ball in Beverly Hills,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Australian Richard Flanagan wins 2014 Man Booker prize
London, Oct 15 (IANS) The first Man Booker prize to allow American nominees was Tuesday night won by an Australian, with Richard Flanagan triumphing for a novel of love and war that tells the harrowing stories of...
Read more on Celebrity Balla