GM Issues Recall for Safety Belts


The Story

Right on the heels of communicating good news (profits for a second quarter) and a big management change, General Motors gives us the bad news: 243,000 crossover vehicles are being recalled for a safety belt inspection.  


Read more here.

Discussion Starters

  • What are the potential consequences -- financial and non-financial -- of this recall to GM?
  • What are the potential consequences of not communicating this message well?
  • What considerations should GM take in communicating this bad news?  What can it learn from Toyota's recent experience?

Assignment Ideas

  • Analyze GM's recall message. Does the statement use the direct or indirect style of communication?  Why do you think the company chose this approach?  What other principles of communicating bad news do you see used in this message?  Discuss your ideas with a partner.
  • In small groups, search online for other recall messages.  Have each person review one other recall message.  Then, as a group, compare these messages to GM's.  Which work best and why?
  • Imagine that a business associate works for a bicycle manufacturer and has to recall 12,000 bikes because of faulty tires.  Write a memo to your associate with your advice for writing an effective recall statement. 
  • Now imagine that you have to write the recall statement for the bicycle manufacturer.  Draft and revise your statement until it's ready for publication.