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Andy’s Answers: How General Motors used social media to avert a crisis

Social media is speeding everything up, creating challenges and opportunities for marketers. This is especially true (sometimes painfully so) when a public relations issue comes up. Though social media can make an issue spread faster, smart marketers also see the opportunity to use that speed to quickly correct the issue.

During his BlogWell presentation, General Motors’ Joe LaMuraglia shared how they did just this. After an internal draft memo was leaked that seemed to indicate Chevrolet’s management team was forbidding employees from using the brand’s “Chevy” nickname, LaMuraglia’s team used social media to clear up the misinformation and avoid a PR crisis.

A few of LaMuraglia’s key tips:

  • Video allows for greater authenticity. GM originally responded to the misinformation with an “official statement” — but bloggers and brand fans weren’t impressed. LaMuraglia’s team then stepped in and filmed an executive offering a plain-English, authentic explanation of what had happened and posted it to YouTube — which significantly reduced the online criticism.
  • It’s about the message, not the production value. LaMuraglia’s video was shaky and lacked the production quality of a traditional corporate video — but because the message was genuine, it still worked just fine.
  • It’s OK to say, “We were wrong.” LaMuraglia explains that it’s OK to admit when you’re wrong and that in doing so, you build long-term credibility with fans and critics alike.

And if you like this presentation, be sure to check out our upcoming BlogWell in Philadelphia on Nov. 9.