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

The Black Friday 2014 Sales You can Shop Today 11/26
The Black Friday 2014 Sales You can Shop Today 11/26
Over 20 Black Friday 2014 sales are already launched. Get the deals early to get your head free for the hard to get Black Friday deals to be released on Thanksgiving Day.
 
 
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...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Zenit keep hope alive with vital away win over Benfica
Lisbon, Nov 27 (IANS) Russian Premier League front-runners Zenit St. Petersburg gave themselves a realistic chance of qualifying for the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League for the second consecutive year after...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Ex-lawmaker faces charge for plotting Venezualan president's murder
Caracas, Nov 27 (IANS) Former Venezuelan lawmaker Maria Corina Machado will be charged for her involvement in an assassination plot against President Nicolas Maduro. One of Maduro's fiercest adversaries, Machado was...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Modi, Nawaz shake hand, meet briefly at SAARC retreat
Kathmandu, Nov 27 (IANS) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif Thursday shook hands and met briefly during the retreat at the Saarc Summit. "Yes, they have met and shook hands at the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Eye's 'glassy' proteins behind sight deterioration
London, Nov 27 (IANS) The age-related long-sightedness could be due to proteins in eye-lens that are converted from a fluid solution to a solid glassy state, making the lens more rigid, says a study. Around the age of...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Dortmund coach Klopp disappointed at loss to Arsenal
London, Nov 27 (IANS) Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp was disappointed after his team lost 0-2 to Arsenal in the Champions League at the Emirates Stadium here. "It took a while to get into the game. It was the...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Novel sound device to enhance wireless technology
New York, Nov 27 (IANS) Engineers have now developed a chip on which both sound waves and light waves are generated and confined together so that the sound can efficiently control the light. The novel device platform...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Daily coffee may cut Alzheimer's risk by 20 percent
London, Nov 27 (IANS) Researchers have found that drinking up to five cups of coffee per day may help curb Alzheimer's risk by 20 percent. Caffeine in coffee helps prevent the formation of amyloid plaques and...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Kindle Black Friday 2014 Deals Live Now
As expected Amazon will have a huge Black Friday sale on the Amazon Kindle eBook reader and the Amazon Kindle Fire Tablets. The Kindle Black Friday 2014 Deals are live now. Amazon will offer the Kindle Fire HD 6 for $79...
Read more on Black Friday Countdown
 
Mandzukic's hat-trick fires Atletico Madrid to pre-quarters
Madrid, Nov 27 (IANS) Atletico Madrid secured their place in the last 16 of the Champions League, thanks to a 4-0 win at home against Olympiacos at the Vicente Calderon Stadium here. Atletico kicked off the game...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Atletico Mineiro clinch their first Copa do Brasil title
Belo Horizonte, Nov 27 (IANS) Atletico Mineiro clinched their first Copa do Brasil title by defeating local rivals Cruziero 3-0 on aggregate in the two-legged final. Brazil international striker Diego Tardelli struck...
Read more on Sport Balla