General Motors has rehired Steve Harris to help hammer out the dents in the corporate nameplate after the company's beating by the press last year.
Tom Kowaleski, 54, president of GM global communications, will step down March 1. Harris, 60, who retired from GM in 2003, before taking a position as chief communications officer at communications company ClearBlue, Detroit, returned to GM last Wednesday as head of GM communications.
Harris, who said he committed to a two year engagement, said CEO Rick Wagoner, to whom he will report, approached him in late January. "He was the best boss I ever had; we had a great working relationship. So, it was hard to say no."
He said a first challenge will be simply getting the press to listen to a more rounded story. "GM is a company that everyone feels they know extremely well, based on recent coverage," he said. "But there are a lot of stories that aren't being told."
Jim Sanfilippo, consultant with AMCI, Detroit, said he's the right choice for the company. "I think it's a tougher job to credibly communicate to the press and public about recovery than about a slide," he said. "He has a reputation as someone with gravitas. That's a big deal. They will listen to Steve, they will know he's there."