GM comms team looks to tackle rumors

DETROIT: General Motors' communications staff, hit with a barrage of critical stories, is trying to swiftly knock down rumors while maintaining normal activities, said Tom Kowaleski, VP of global communications.

DETROIT: General Motors' communications staff, hit with a barrage of critical stories, is trying to swiftly knock down rumors while maintaining normal activities, said Tom Kowaleski, VP of global communications.

"The mode we are in is separating fact from fiction," he said as he attended the New York auto show last week.

GM answered reports that it planned to lay off up to 28% of its work force by reminding the media that the company has put in place an early retirement option for white-collar workers. "The numbers are all sheer speculation," Kowaleski said.

GM also sent that message to workers through internal channels that included a TV network, an employee website, and meetings between company executives and staff.

GM's PR staff has been handling the situation without using outside agency help.

But GM has coordinated with other partners, such as GE. The two companies issued a joint statement last Tuesday to deny press reports that GE Commercial Finance had withdrawn a $2 billion loan facility from GM.

"A good communications staff doesn't only have the capability of dealing with good news; you have to deal with the challenges, too," Kowaleski said.

No special press sessions were planned for the auto show to address financial problems, he said. Communications at the GM auto show focused on new car models.

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