DETROIT and TORRANCE, CA: General Motors worked to give the media explanations behind its first quarter sales figures after it became known that the Toyota Motor Corporation has passed the Detroit automaker for the first time to become the world's number-one auto seller.
Tony Cervone, VP communications for GM North America, was driving to work when he heard the news. "I thought to myself: 'OK, This is going to be an interesting day,'" he recalled.
Cervone said a small group of individuals who would handle the nearly 50 media inquiries worked on establishing the "proper tone and facts" for responses. A group also worked with Rick Wagoner, GM chairman and CEO, on his message.
GM spoke about the numbers being affected by it taking a few hundred thousand cars out of its production schedule over the past few years in an effort to focus less on providing cars for rental fleets and more on retail sales.
"We were reminding the media of what the make-up of the [sales] numbers were," Cervone said. "There's a perspective needed on that and we did that for a day and a half."
Jennifer Brigham, media relations administrator at Toyota Motor Sales USA, said it was business as usual that day at Toyota.
"The media picked up on the sales figures, but we didn't make an announcement based on our ranking," she said. "Generally they wanted to know our stance regarding our sales and the significance of the figures."