PR Campaigns – The blog

November 27, 2008

Big Three Bailout: What about your consumers?

Filed under: The Agency — bkranz @ 9:50 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I’m sure I’m not the only American sick and tired of hearing the phrase “bailout” repeatedly throughout the day. In these harsh economic times, it’s nearly impossible to escape it. For lack of a better way to describe it, I don’t get along with numbers well (I’m a journalism student, I can’t help it). In an effort to better understand the whole “bailout” issue, I went googling and came across an article on PRWeek.com about the automobile industry and the bailout they are trying to convince the government they need. “Big Three can learn from comms mistakes” talks about Ford, GM, and Chrysler and their economic issues.

The issue seems to be that while the “Big Three” is asking for an enormous amount of money to fix the problems they are facing, the companies are lacking in communication with their most important customers, those living in Middle America. Instead of communicating with the public as to what they need the money for and how it will be used to their advantage, the Big Three has avoided communication and instead the CEOs are traveling by private planes to meetings. If you are in such deep economic trouble, why would you choose to fly private instead of commercial like the rest of the country?

For someone who doesn’t understand money in the greatest sense (I’m not naive, I just don’t do economics), this makes less sense than calculating supply and demand curves. If you want to entrust the people of the country as well as the government with saving the financial well-being of your corporation, why would you not communicate those goals? I am a Ford driver, I have heard nothing of the issues they face. I’m not about to support a bailout that is going to drive our economy further into oblivion if I don’t know why it’s happening. I’m usually quite satisfied with Ford, but after reading this article, I’m more than a little annoyed.

I think this is definitely a PR issue considering communication is at the forefront of it. What do you think? Should corporations be asking for help without going into detail about their troubles? Should we just assume that they will be doing the right thing with our money? I find it difficult to believe anyone would think that, but I’m interested to hear what others think.

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8 Comments »

  1. I heard about this on the news a few days ago. They were talking about how the “Big Three” are in trouble and are now saying they need a bailout even though they fly private jets and are living the high life. As Americans I think that we have become spoiled. We will get to a certain point where we actually have more than what we need but we think that everything we have is absolutely necessary. Once anyone starts losing their little spoils in life they start freaking out and will do anything to get them back. I really don’t think that this bailout is necessary.

    Comment by knish21087 — November 30, 2008 @ 11:42 pm | Reply

  2. I agree with the idea that the auto makers could be doing more to garner support from “everyday” people, i.e. consumers. I think most people are pretty sick of hearing the financial jargon and most get that this could mean massive job loss. But, outside of those directly affected by it, there really isn’t any really clear communication happening directly to the country on how we would all be affected.

    Comment by asbrooks04 — December 1, 2008 @ 1:41 pm | Reply

  3. I agree with asbrooks, in that these companies should be gathering consumer support. They would have not only more people, but more negotiating power than they do now, while keeping consumers in the dark. While I don’t think the bailout is a great plan, these companies aren’t using their consumers to their advantage, which certainly is ignoring a vital stakeholder.

    Comment by kakeane — December 1, 2008 @ 3:00 pm | Reply

  4. The “Big Three” need to justify their needs to the American people. It is ridiculous that they are seeking a bailout for their own failures that could easily have been avoided. These fat cats are greedy and as much as their demise will negatively impact our economy, I think that their downfall is what it will take to get things back on track.

    Comment by davemerenda — December 1, 2008 @ 8:45 pm | Reply

  5. This seems like a PR nightmare to me. Throughout the media, the only thing that is projected about the automobile industry is their actions with the private jets and the notion of greed. What happened to the PR department focusing on disseminating the strongest message to benefit their client? How are consumers supposed to support the auto industry if they aren’t looking for ways to help them? I think a strong PR team could have prevented all of this negative publicity.

    Comment by ccharvey — December 1, 2008 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

  6. This subject matter goes way beyond PR, but I do agree that these big time corporations are not effectively communicating. I also heard about how the CEOs traveled by private jets, which in the realm of things, does not present the greatest image especially when they are asking for bailout money. Although a little PR assistance could have possibly shun some negative light away from this, I think the problems go way deeper and they need a lot more than a good image to show off to the media and consumers.

    Comment by letsgoblogging — December 2, 2008 @ 9:51 am | Reply

  7. I remember hearing about this situation. I believe the CEOs were even asked if they would give up their private planes and none of them responded. Obviously a “no” to that one. They just weren’t thinking. If you’re coming to ask for a great deal of money don’t do anything extravagant that makes the request seem ridiculous. These CEOs definitely needed PR guidance to avoid negative media coverage. Personally, I don’t think they should be granted such a large bailout.

    Comment by marialinda17 — December 2, 2008 @ 10:41 am | Reply

  8. I’ve been following this story. I do think that many of the companies, especially the automobile ones, asking for governmental assistance, need public relations help. For instance, the representatives of “the Big Three” irritated Congress by flying on their private jets and not decreasing their salaries or taking other cost-reduction methods. It’s surprising to me how disconnected many of these companies are about how image affects the way the public views them.

    Comment by mara2009 — December 2, 2008 @ 1:56 pm | Reply


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