Mary Barra's Video Message to GM Employees

As communication experts question GM's "no comment" strategy with the press, CEO Mary Barra continues her communication with employees. In a four-minute video, Barra addresses what a New York Times article calls "a decade-long failure to fix a defect tied to 12 deaths."

While people and companies are increasingly criticized for false apologies, Barra tries to go beyond a simple apology: "We have apologized, but that is only one step in the journey to resolve this." Of course, the company has little choice considering the federal investigations; it must take more action.

The video complements an intranet post for employees on March 4 that outlined GM's investigation plans and expressed confidence in the future.

Discussion Starters:

  • Assess Barra's video. What works well, and what could be improved in the organization, content, and delivery?
  • What key messages do you take from the video? How do they compare to Barra's message to employees on March 4?
  • Why is Barra choosing employee messages as her primary communication vehicle? She has declined interviews with the press. On the other hand, the video is public on GM's website and YouTube. What's her strategy?