GM's Steve Harris to retire

DETROIT: General Motor's VP of communications, Steve Harris, will retire October 1, the company announced yesterday.

DETROIT: General Motor's VP of communications, Steve Harris, will retire October 1, the company announced yesterday. Harris joined as GM's VP of communications in 1999 from Chrysler. He led the automaker's communications organization from 1999 to 2003. Harris previously retired from the top comms slot at GM in 2003, but returned to the post in 2006. In the three-year interim, Harris ran his own Birmingham, MI-based communications consultancy.

Harris' experience with GM dates back to 1967 when he joined the company as a college graduate and went on to hold a number of PR positions throughout the organization.

Chris Preuss, currently VP of GM Europe communications and global product communications, will take over Harris' vacated role. He joined GM in 1998 as Cadillac's director of communications and has also led GM communications  for public policy, global products and brands, and product development.

Preuss will report to Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman, who recently returned from a brief retirement announced in February, to a new role where he is heading up all "creative elements of products and customer relationships." In that role, Lutz is also leading the marcomms function. "GM's brands, marketing, advertising, and communications will report to Lutz for consistent messaging and results," the company said.

"I am pleased to announce that we are 'unretiring' Bob Lutz so he can fill this important position in the new GM," said Fritz Henderson, in a statement. "This new role allows him to take that passion a step further, applying it to other parts of GM that connect directly with customers."

Lutz's return was announced on July 10, the day GM emerged from bankruptcy.

Harris' departure is the second senior communications executive to leave the automaker in the last six months. Tony Cervone, VP of global strategy and operations at GM, exited in February to take a top post at United Airlines. Also, in May, as GM and other automakers struggled, Harris told PRWeek that the companywide layoffs would include a "significant" number of communications staffers.

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