GM Stands For Great (PR) Move

In this era of instant online criticism and overreaction, the PR “fails” seem to get all of the attention. So, it’s important to note when someone – particularly a big corporation – absolutely nails taking advantage of a PR opportunity.

One of the best examples in a while is what General Motors did this week at their plant in Orion Township, Michigan. The plant is being readied to produce GM’s next generation of small cars. So, the company took advantage of an unusual opportunity to open up its assembly line training to more than a dozen regional and automotive journalists.

As you can see in this Detroit TV story and this blog, GM allowed journalists to experience some of what it’s like to work on an auto assembly line. Teams of journalists were given GM trainers to see if they could meet the company’s quality standards under realistic, simulated conditions. This resulted in honest, humorous and revealing coverage. The results were some of the best traditional media relations clips I’ve seen in a long time.

This one-of-a-kind access, which was relatively inexpensive, allowed GM to:

-Remind its audiences that it will soon be producing a new line of small cars
-Reiterate that those cars will be built in the Detroit area and in the U.S.
-Importantly, show respect for its blue collar workforce
-Underscore its message of quality
-Generate some “buzz” at the end of the first quarter
-Attract journalists to leave their desks and actually want into a company facility, something increasingly difficult to accomplish
-Enhance the relationships with those journalists

Every day in this country, thousands of press releases are distributed. Few ever make news or even communicate messages. In this case, GM broke the old corporate press release model and used creativity, access and relationships to actually tell a story and deliver messages. Great Move.