read the study case and answer the 3 questions. it need to be no less than 300 wordsChapter 9 . Social Media and Traditional Media Relations
3. Think of some crises that have hit U.S. corporations recently. Which of
these social media strategies that Berger used with GM could be particu-
larly useful in those scenarios? How would you use Facebook? Twitter?
YouTube? Blogs?
Source: Amy Jacques, “From Filing Chapter 11 to Opening a New Chapter,” PR Strategist, 16, No. 2, (Spring
2010), pp. 6-10.
Media relations and publicity work are essential ingredients of public relations
practice. The relationship between journalists and public relations practitioners
is a difficult one. If practitioners understand the media’s roles, however, positive
can be developed that are beneficial to all.
continued new uses of the Internet, global communication demands, and proliferating
The whole framework for media relations work has changed based on social media,
communication channels. The traditional mass media continue to offer an
For self-testing and additional
chapter resources, go to the
Online Learning Center at
method for commu
mwith large and dispersed stakeholders
, while the specialized
rrowly defined audience
Partl – The Publics
Case Study
General Motors Goes Social with
a Financial Crisis
Laurie Volkmann, PhD
Dominican University
eneral Motors used social media to help handle its bankruptcy financial
sultants advising GM, Christopher Berger convinced the CEO to use Twitter
and Facebook to let shareholders know of the chapter 11 filing. Berger, direc-
tor of global social media at GM, said that getting CEO Fritz Henderson on
board with the idea was crucial. GM followed a 20/80 policy on its social media
posts–20 percent was GM material posted to Facebook or Twitter or other
places and 80 percent was responding to questions. “Even if they were venting
and saying, ‘We hate you,’ we tried to respond,” Berger said. “During a crisis
you want to use social media as a tool to respond and make sure that consum
ers realize you are listening and you care.
GM employed such social media tactics as posting blogs and live webcasts,
playing a video interview on Facebook with Fritz Henderson, and putting the
CEO on Twitter for an open conversation. “You cannot overcommunicate dur-
ing a crisis,” Berger said. “Go on every platform, every possible place somebody
might be listening to you. The audience expects you to be there.”
During the first week of the crisis, GM engaged in direct conversations via
Twitter, Facebook, and through various blogs with about 800 individual people.
Berger noted that those 800 conversations were translated into communication
with thousands more because followers to those sites would see the conversa-
tions. “Again, it’s not ‘Here’s GM’s message; here’s what they want us to know.’
It is real people interacting,” Berger added. “That was a particular benefit for us.”
In one particularly effective strategy, GM even sought to engage its critics.
GM invited a popular blogger and frequent GM critic, David Meerman Scott,
to headquarters and gave him access to the CEO and anyone else he wanted
to talk to. Within a week of the visit, Scott had posted four blogs about GM to
his blog, Web Ink Now. Scott’s post were still critical of GM’s advertising strat-
egy (something he had been critical of the motor company for previously), but
were positive about the corporation overall. “You don’t engage everybody,”
Berger noted, adding that critics not interested in a genuine conversation are
you want to engage that person.”
not worth the time. “If somebody is giving good thought to their criticism, then
To have an effective and credible social media presence during a crisis, it
is important to establish a social media strategy before the crisis hits, Berger
maintains. “There is no over. This is not a campaign. It is a commitment. This is
a long-term way of doing business.”
1. Why do you think Berger says it is important to have a social media
strategy before a crisis hits in order to have any credibility?
2. What were some of the dangers of GM being so transparent in the social
media with the news that it was filing chapter 11? What were the advan-
tages of that transparency?

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