Emerging Info Weakens GM’s Crisis Management Effort

How should the embattled automaker react?

What do you think is one of the most damaging pieces of information that could emerge when you’re in the midst of crisis management for a massive mistake?

If you said evidence that you’ve made that same mistake more than once, you must be following the GM case closely.

That’s right, with GM knee-deep in crisis management for failing to respond to the deadly ignition switch issue, it has been revealed that the automaker also refused to issue a recall of over 300,000 Saturns that could suffer from dangerous power steering failures, a flaw that’s been proven to have caused at least 12 crashes and drawn more than 30,000 repair claims.

The AP’s Tom Kirsher covered the story, and reported on several damning complaints from drivers regarding the steering issue dating back to 2004:

A search of the agency’s database records shows that Ion owners started complaining about power steering failures as early as June 2004, and the first injury accident was reported to NHTSA in May 2007. The owner of a 2004 Ion reported driving 25 mph and tried to turn the steering wheel, but it locked, and the car crashed into a tree.

“Saturn stated the vehicle is not a defect,” the complaint said.

Another driver who filed a complaint in July 2010 said that one evening, “midway around a bend, my vehicle’s electric power steering went out and straightened my wheel, putting me into oncoming traffic.”

“I could have died and killed another driver,” said that person, who also owned a 2004 Saturn Ion.

We always advise clients that if they’re already under fire about one issue and others may yet surface, proactively dislose, apologize and say what’s going to be done to ensure no future incidents of this type. Get it out of the way, and move on. Instead, GM is suffering the proverbial “death by a thousand cuts.” GM should stop letting its attorneys dictate its communications strategy, because the Court of Public Opinion is in session and they’re being found guilty.

The BCM Blogging Team

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