It’s Like This, GM. When Did Bad News Become a PR Machine?

Today I realized that on a productive day (meaning I am researching, reading and learning and not on Facebook), that I will have at least 3 tabs open in FireFox that are either bad or leaning towards bad news regarding GM. If you were to look at my Delicious account you would see that when I have been bothered to tag what I save, GM is not just a tag, it is an entire lifetime supply of sticky notes.

I have started so many blogs about GM that my drafts folder in WordPress is a virtual diary of issues that screamed to me that I needed to say something to you but then I would worry about your health. It is personal to me. It’s like telling a close elder relative that they offend everyone at Thanksgiving dinner with their un-Big Fish-Like stories and are clueless to this and something should be done but then Thanksgiving passes and so I kind of hope/think that your spouse must be telling you why people pick on you.

But here are some observations.

Whether or not you actually pay eBay for the recent trial endeavor of listing your new inventory on eBay Motors that is now coming to an end, I know this:

  • - eBay Motors doesn’t care if you pay them. The free marketing you did for the most cheap and marketing incompetent major company in the world realizes that it was your money who brought them all of those wonderful hits. They base stock price on hits. No sales for you but hits for them.
  • - While we are on your money? It was nice of you to pull eBay Motors along with you while you paid back part of your loan … that wasn’t your money at the time nor was the contract with eBay even signed when the program was announced. I like team spirit among people. Sharing is nice.
  • - You did a nice thing for your franchisees by putting their inventory on eBay Motors on their behalf so they didn’t have to pay a marketplace they had all abandoned long ago because it was useless to them and didn’t increase sales. I bet after they had so many peers lose their franchises it made them feel warm and part of the GM family to know you could offer them a snowcone treat on a freezing day.
  • - Fritz Henderson had a genius idea with this eBay Motors thing and announced it as if it was All New! although it had already been 2 years in the works and, in the panic of securing government funds, grasped it as an example of how GM was changing and showing appreciation of being allowed to continue breathing.
  • - Playing with eBay Motors and pretending like cars were really going to sell was optimistic. Audi only sold 2 cars in their entire history of listing their Certified Pre-Owned cars on eBay on behalf of their dealers but you decided that GM would be different. Despite public opinion and franchisees well known for their lack of follow through on internet leads, you were going to sell cars, dang it!
  • - Everyone knew that this eBay program was about generating leads and you say that you got 15,000 leads on 16,000 cars in 225 California dealerships which is great but you claim you don’t have visibility on how many of those ended in successful sales. You could (dealerships and eBay are run by this thing called software) but then the cars that were listed as current inventory on eBay were very often no longer available. So maybe you got some buyers in other cars. Who knows? You could tell us but you don’t, you silly little tease!
  • - Speaking of releasing actual numbers: it is cool that most of the cars you listed on eBay were higher than the prices of the actual cars on the actual lots (which is higher than people actually negotiate) because that helps the perception that we all crave in this economy (e.g., cars are worth more than they are if you see it on the internet).

We don’t have to talk about the money back guarantees and how that worked out for other companies before or how playing conkers with the media is proven to be a bad idea. I do want you to start talking though. This Penske deal is a huge heartbreak for a lot of people. I am keeping my fingers crossed for Hummer. This isn’t pretend anymore. People have used you and you show a kind face of being optimistic and take the knocks of being the one at fault. Managing bad news is not a fun job and a lot of very tired but loving employees working on your behalf. Bad news is not a PR opportunity. It is a sign that everyone is tired. It is time to start making some good news.

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