Monday, 8 September 2008


Well, General Motors certainly don't think much about the treatment they've been getting at the hands of bloggers.

According to a report in the Financial Times, carried today by Gulf News, GM's spokesman Tom Wilkinson reckons, "We've found that the travails of the auto industry have spread beyond the business pages to the general media. Bloggers and others tend to pick up misinformation and recycle it endlessly."

So here, perhaps, is an example of a company that didn't just sit back and sulk when it doesn't like what's happening out there in the Internet. It got off its bum and did something about it. GM's website not only directly addresses hard questions, it even asks readers to submit rumours!

"If you’ve read or heard something about GM we’d love to know about it so that we can have an opportunity to address it."

It's certainly an agressive and targeted outreach effort that pulled major global media hits when it was announced on the 5th September. The editor of is, incidentally, one Tom Wilkinson!

If you Google General Motors Blogs, you'll find that at least the first three pages of results are utterly dominated by GM's own blogs: a nice effort at SEO domination, for sure. A quick search of other coverage shows much of it is 'on message', too. Top marks for GM?

Well, let's not be so quick to go clapping backs.

It's actually quite hard to find the 'negatives' that GM has reacted so strongly to. So at first glance, we've got an impressive piece of PR work that got GM's story out there and shouted down the critical voices quite neatly, apparently addressing their assertions and restoring 'balance' to the debate. But it's done so with such efficiency that there's no debate at all to speak of...

And the GMF&F site doesn't allow people to post comments. So it's not really dialogue: it's just big-budget shout it from the rooftops assertion. And the trouble with that kind of assertion is that you can't really take a realistic tone and address the debate as a participant - you're just blaring your viewpoint and not listening to others. And that's not polite conversation.

There's this blog, for instance, which accuses GMF&F of 'cherry picking' and then goes on to take a sharp cutlass to the site. And, in fact, there is an increasing volume of comment on blogs of a similar nature, although the tone of response is generally cautious and wary rather than condemnatory.

As one forum comment put it: "I looked at that website. It's sad when a formerly proud American corporation resorts to peddling half truths like that on a website. No solid facts are provided about their dire financial situation and yet GM has the arrogance to try and dupe the public into believing they aren't receiving a government handout. Sad, sad, sad."

Perhaps interestingly, the day before the outreach on facts and fiction started, GM apparently recalled almost a million vehicles due to a fire hazard... the recall is also carried on the US NHTSA database under NHTSA Campaign Number 08V441000.

Although GM appears not to have issued a release on that... Almost a million fire hazards wouldn't be as important as 'addressing myths'.

Or am I just being too cynical again...


Grumpy Goat said...

I have an odd mental picture of someone from a bad fantasy film in a spiky suit of armour attacking his foe with a belly-lunge. What else could a sharp cuirass be?


Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo said...

General Motors (and other American car companies) were accused of buying up pieces (directly and indirectly) of various forms of public transit and then running them into the ground. When I tried to enter my email to take me to the part of their website where I enter my "myth" it simply told me "thank you" for entering my "myth" (the one I wasn't even prompted to enter).

Jack Daniels said...

GM is only trying to protect themselves from as*h*le like this writer.

alexander... said...

GG. Cutlass. As in oriental disembowelling cutlass. Mind elsewhere, typed in cuirass instead. Thanks be to Google, I can correct it and make my excuses.

ABDP. Because this is one-way communication, not two-way communication. Otherwise people would be asking them what the hell they mean by 'cuirass'...

JD. Let's have a look... Is that He or She talking?

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