Mary Barra’s first couple of months as CEO of General Motors have been anything but easy. The career long GM employee has been and will continue to be under the close watch of customers, investors and industry analysts while GM deals with the recall of 2.5 million of its small cars over faulty ignition switches and the resulting swarm of lawsuits and government investigations.
GM released five online videos last week addressing customer concerns in regards to the recall. The Detroit Free Press says Barra’s personable nature, which is evident in the videos, will be an asset to the company as it attempts to move forward from the recalls.
“We intend to make this recall as smooth as possible for you so we will not let it ever happen again,” Barra pledged. “We will learn from this, and we will be a better company.”
Barra is set to testify before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday as to why GM failed to address the faulty ignition switches earlier, after an internal investigation revealed the company may have known about the issue as early as 2001. She is looking to appease any uncertainties customers have about the defect through a publicity campaign, which included the online videos, a press conference with reporters and an Op-Ed in USA Today.
“If you look at the average car buyer in America, they are expecting a General Motors CEO out of central casting,” Matt Friedman, a member of the Michigan-based strategic communications firm Tanner Friedman told the Free Press. “Mary Barra does not fit that profile. I think that will be a pleasant surprise to car buyers who today don’t know what she is. But next week they will.”
“There is some comfort the public has in seeing humanity,” Friedman added.
Barra has ordered an internal review to discover why it took so long for GM recall the affected vehicles. She has hired the same bankruptcy examiner who was appointed to investigate the now defunct investment banking firm Lehman Brothers, Tony Valukas.