Monthly Archives: July 2009

The “Reinvention” of GM

When the country has been buzzing with the horrors of a failing economy for months, how do you look forward? What if your company has been forced to file bankruptcy and is in an industry that is slowly crumbling? If you are General Motors, you look inside for change and try to evoke a positive, hopeful spirit.

After filing bankrupcty in early June 2009, GM launched its “Reinvention” campaign. GM startedGMreinvention.com with links to the GM Twitter and Facebook accounts along with information about the bankrupcty status and new GM products and warranties.

The site also includes a “Tell Fritz” section that allows consumers to ask questions directly to CEO Fritz Henderson.

To me, the most impressive component of this campaign is the Reinvention Commercial, a powerful spot detailing the future of GM: “It’s not about going out of business, it’s about getting down to business.”

With this ad, GM admits to the public that they are in a serious bind. The ad even states that “no company wants to go through this.” But by displaying what they plan to do with their company and how they are going to re-vamp it for today’s markets, it opens GM up to positive change and a hopeful future.

The Reinvention Commercial definitely caught the attention of the public; however, not all attention was positive. Several blogs thought the ad was strange and didn’t like the fact that GM needed the government to help them out of bankruptcy. Despite some negative reactions, GM’s approval ratings increased after the ad started running.

On July 10, 2009, GM did what many people thought to be impossible: they came out of bankruptcy. Originally, they had planned to take 90 days to restructure in bankruptcy, but it only took them 40.

Although the government now owns 60 percent of GM, there are hopes that it will become a publicly traded company again. The New GM will be “leaner, greener, faster, smarter.” Its newest product, the2010 Chevrolet Camaro is selling well across the company, despite the economic decline.

To me, this campaign is one of the most radical movements by a company after the economic meltdown. GM’s innovative movement featuring the commercial spot, Web site and social media marketing has set the standard for a new approach to crisis management. While the future of GM is uncertain, it’s clear that they are taking a step in the right direction of change.

by Cara Cramer

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Representing the “Man in the Mirror”

I can only imagine what it is like to be Michael Jackson’s publicist. Needless to say, it must be an extremely busy job. Arguably, this is the most famous figure in pop music, the “King of Pop.” Love him or hate him, there’s no denying Jackson sits with a select group of artists who remain timeless. But what Jackson was most known for in the years before his death was his controversial and strange public demeanor. Since the 1980s, Jackson’s personal life has always been fascinating to the public. But, is Jackson just a victim of scrutinizing media, or was he feeding the fire himself?

In the late 80s, he began changing his face significantly with plastic surgery and his skin became lighter and lighter. There were rumors that he tried to buy the bones of the “Elephant Man,” and a picture of him sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber became tabloid fodder. E! News reported in its “True Hollywood Story” program, that it was Jackson who circulated the pictures and made up the rumor of purchasing the bones. He dangled his son “Blanket” over a balcony to hundreds of fans gathered outside, in what I consider to be a desperate attempt at publicity. Why would such a young artist, beloved by millions of fans, want to show the world this strangeness?

We will never know the true motives behind what Jackson did. The media frenzy surrounding his death was enormous and continues to grow rapidly. I can only predict that this will be the biggest entertainment story of the year, similar in scale to the Anna Nicole Smith child paternity controversy or Princess Diana’s car accident.

An interesting character to emerge out of Jackson’s posthumous media surge is his father, Joe Jackson. Three days after Michael’s death, Joe Jackson attended the B.E.T. awards and walked the red carpet like a star. He spoke with CNN reporters briefly about Michael, but focused most of the interviews on his new record label. Not typical grieving behavior if you ask me. Joe Jackson was seen standing outside of his Encino, Calif., home in the days after his death, talking with Rev. Al Sharpton and taking interviews with reporters. Many speculated that Joe Jackson was trying to capitalize even more off of Michael’s public attention and garner profits.

How do you represent someone who receives so much negative publicity? There had to have been times when his publicists or managers wanted to help him seem less bizarre. As a publicist or PR practitioner, it is your responsibility to help clients maintain the best public image for their field. PR representatives can and should counsel their clients about the long-term implications of their choices and behaviors, but in the end, it’s the client who must live with those choices.

In representing someone like Jackson, I can imagine that there’s no telling him what to do. Famous by the age of nine, Jackson was used to getting whatever he wanted. Had Jackson listened to someone with knowledge of PR, perhaps the world would have recognized him as the amazing artist and innovative performer he was while he was living. Only after he died did the world seem interested in the music that made him famous.

by Cara Cramer

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