« Marketing products with very long sales cycles | Main | Google finally gets real-time »

December 03, 2009


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Open letter to Ed Whitacre, new interim CEO of GM:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Wise advice. Chris Barger was a guest speaker here at Social Media Club Detroit, and it was very inspiring to hear the steps GM took to engage in the social web. It would be a shame to see that progress stalled.

Arun Agrawal

While we struggle to convince the small business owners to adopt the social media to get closer to the current and prospective customers, you are telling this about the CEO of GM.

Shocking and shameful (for GM)!


Tony Faustino

Bravo David. The points expressed in your letter are highly relevant if GM is truly committed to regaining consumer trust through social media relationships. I sincerely believe GM has a significant opportunity to reinvent how we perceive them. Your previous videos interviews with their executives certainly influenced me. Let's hope their commitment to building social media relationships continues and is part of their selection criteria in their CEO search.

John Harris

Ed Whiteacre was born in 1941. How many 68 year olds are using social media at their job today? And I don't mean staying connected to their grandchildren via Facebook.



I agree with you – Fritz is a remarkable guy and served our company for many years, importantly leading us through the Chapter 11 process and helping us to emerge as a new company. I have a lot of respect for him and appreciate his willingness to communicate with all of our constituents, including our consumers on the social web. I'm sad to see him go.

However, Ed Whitacre has been our Chairman for several months and also helped to guide GM through these unprecedented times. Yesterday I asked him during our employee broadcast if he would personally help us continue the momentum we've achieved on the social web by being transparent, and telling our stories. He said that while he's not on Facebook or Twitter, that he likes people; is open, and made a promise to tell us everything he knows about this company. So yes, he's game, and I'm thrilled he's willing to engage. So, stay tuned!

He also told employees many times that he's a "walk-around guy." He wants to meet as many of us and possible and hear how we believe we can best serve consumers and to change the company as quickly as possible – and importantly, to make money! While you know I'm a strong proponent of communicating on the social web, and I’m glad Ed will personally get involved, I admire his recognition of the importance of interpersonal communication. It's all about building relationships.

Additionally, I think it's important to consider that our leaders have made a huge commitment to communicate – on the social web and elsewhere. Since June, our executives have participated in more than 40 web and Twitter chats. They've authored blog posts, visited many cities, participated in Tweetups and invited consumers to tell them how we can best meet their needs. Ed clearly plays an important role, but without the support and engagement from the rest of the team, we wouldn't get anywhere.

I hope that helps to alleviate your worries about Ed's commitment and style. For the record, he does do e-mail, but it's not his favorite thing (mine either, frankly!).

Mary Henige
Director, Social Media & Broadcast Communications
General Motors

P.S. to Tony - the answer is yes -see above! ( :

Account Deleted

Hi David,
I must say that I am sorry to see Fritz go at such an instant in time... Although I carry a prejudice to finance guys being CEO's, I sincerely evaluate Fritz Henderson as "the" CEO who kept challenging my mentioned prejudice at its best. Say for his involvement in the social media and for how he strived to be a 'good boy' for Washington D.C. & the Auto Task Force making promises to pay back the loans... Here's further posting/comments I had recently put re.Fritz Henderson & his departure: http://tinyurl.com/y9hv2ww

Account Deleted

By the way David, I apologise for not stating-in my previous comment- my intense agreement to each & every word u have in your open letter to EW. You said it, nothing less and a lot more needs to be said may be. Nicely done!


I have been a GM owner most of my life. It has been good to finally see them engaging their customers and prospective buyers online. In fact, it actually makes them look like they have an interest! In return, that interest in us, created more interest in them.

I agree completely with your post, David, and hope they do find someone who has more background in new media to put at the helm. It will only do them good, given we are being bombarded by their competitors already.

I had to laugh when I read part of Mary's comment - I guess as an owner of multiple GM products - I am glad that Ed "likes people". In his position, I would certainly hope so! It's pretty easy to spot the pretenders online AND offline.


David, when you are breaking ice like you do everyday, the fact that you took the time to publicly state your thoughts and feelings reassure me that there are still leaders out here who care. Like Beck says, there has to be accountability. Good job.



I find that GM is currently surprisingly accessible, but I agree it is important that the new CEO understand social media.

In my opinion the current tools are only scratching the surface for what GM could be doing. Many GM products have all the hardware in place to 'phone home' with real time vehicle telemetrics. A lot of customer satisfaction is a matter of being on the spot to show some concern and attention to fix obviously fixable customer issues. That can quickly change an unhappy customer to a brand advocate.

Immediacy of information flow can move GM months ahead in the conversation with their current and future customers if they choose to take advantage of it. We are in a time that GM can realistically deal with customers individually in almost real time with the right tools and planning.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks all, for jumping in to this discussion.

Mary, what a thoughtful response. Thank you so much for taking the time to engage in what must be a busy week. I'm glad that you find Mr. Whitacre engaging and that he cares about web communications.

BTW - I'm serious when I say that I (and my readers) would help vet CEO candidates!! Send them our way for an interview!

Keep up the great work, Mary!



Nicely written David.

I love the speed of Social Media. It is great to see Mary quickly joining in.



Hi again, David & others - TGIF!

Yes, it's been a busy week, but aren't they all?! Always glad to let folks know what we're doing. We understand there are a lot of questions so we'll take them as they come.

Sharon, thank you very much for your loyalty to GM and our brands. We truly appreciate your business.

With all that's happened this week, we haven't been able to appropriately promote the fact that we now have customer assistance center reps on Twitter -- you'll see them on our Facebook fan pages, too. There's a lot to do and we know it, but we're trying to make progress every day.

Please follow @GMCustomerSvc to learn more and let us know what you think.

Thanks for the interest and suggestions.


Michael Karesh

When I observed GM from the inside a decade ago, it was very much a command-and-control organization.

I don't know how much it has changed since then. Not enough, judging from its current condition.

The primary requirement for any future GM CEO should be to transform this organization into one that effectively cultivates and synthesizes the knowledge of its members. Much more attention needs to be given to the informal organization.

Until then, companies like GM when engaging in social media must often pretend to be something they're not. Not that this is uncommon--far from it. But it will limit their effectiveness.

Executive summary of the 2001 report:



When GM kicked Ross Perot out ... bought him out of the company for an inflated price ... because he was trying to get them to change, that was the moment I knew GM would never change. At the top they still haven't changed. They're just putting lipstick on a pig.

I don't buy from companies I don't like if I have a choice.

Jodi Kaplan

Hmm, crowd sourcing a CEO. Now, that would be remarkable!

Airam Ferrer

Great post, David! I think it's about time all businesses at least looked into online communications. It's easy, fast, and will let them personalize their brands more effectively.

The Internet lets companies to reach out to a bigger number of people, and respond to their concerns sooner than most traditional means. This allows brands to put a face and character to their products and services better than anything they'd spend more on. Online platforms are also cost-effective, and will open more doors for innovative promotions and customer service.

I really hope GM and other companies learn from your letter. It's an excellent suggestion that will help them grow as a company, and as leaders in their own field. Listening greatly contributes to development, whether it's for a product or a CEO already at the top of his game.


Mary, This is probably not the forum for this, but I don't know where to go. I have a GM vehicle with a problem that GM knows about that I cannot get them to fix. I tried going through Customer Service but I am not satisfied with my treatment on of this issue. I am looking for someone at GM who can listen to me and give me the attention that I deserve as a loyal GM owner. Please direct me on where to go with this.


Hi Aaron,

Please send me an email with your contact information. If you have your case number available that would be handy, too.


John Beckley

I listened and enjoyed your video interviews with Mr Henderson and although I'm not every knowledgeable with matters of GM I did forward the interviews on to several of my clients. d

I explained to my clients how it is important for the top CEO's to be socially aware and know how to use new rules to communicate. Great post to Whitacre...balls in his court.

William S. Hamilton

I liked that GM down sized the Brands. I also realize that Buick was one of the First Brands in GM's History.
However, Cadillac and Buick are too closely aligned Price/style wise.
GM should do away with Buick and bring Back the Great Saturn Brand !
Cadillac- High End
Saturn - Middle
Chevy - lower or common brand.
GM - Trucks/SUV's

This was the only Huge Mistake that GM made.

The comments to this entry are closed.


Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

follow me

David Meerman Scott books

I want to speak at your next event!


David Meerman Scott e-books

David's iPhone and iPad apps

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 12/2004