Handling Crisis through Social Media

Not many students can say they do not have a Twitter page and even less can say they are without a Facebook page. Social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have become the new social norm. Several hours of good study time is spent updating, posting and “liking” various personal pages.

Mary Henige, director of social media and digital communications for General Motors spoke with the Wayne State University’s PRSSA chapter about using social media in navigating GM through its financial crisis. Henige offered a wealth of knowledge on how GM strategized and executed a social media plan that would “build relationships and changes perceptions” about their brand. She shared with students how several GM executives participated in active two-way communication with consumers. Gone are the days of brands talking to consumers; now starts an era where consumer can voice their concerns. Sites like “GM ReInvention” were among the first provide consumers with video, blogs and live updates that give a front row seat to all things going on with GM.

Social media may be the norm for several individuals but convincing a major brand like GM to actively participate in conversations with consumers was not initially embraced. Thus, a social media team was created, complete with a lawyer to “ok” every tweet, everyone had a role.

In keeping with the idea of transparency and two-way communication it was clear to followers who were receiving these updates that there was a team of individuals driving the conversation and answering questions, even if it was the previous CEO, Fritz Henderson

Many students have a natural advantage in using social media. Posting videos, pictures and live feeds of events come as easy because it is done everyday. Honing in on this skill and making it an asset to companies is an invaluable tool as the profession of PR evolves.

As Mary stated, “There is no best way,” no textbooks or case studies. However, students across the country are actively participating in social media everyday.

Follow Mary on twitter @maryhenige

This is a post from Wayne State PRSSA Director of

Social Media Tracey Shavers.


One response to “Handling Crisis through Social Media

  1. Hi Tracey,

    Thank you for your nice post! You were clearly engaged throughout the discussion and I appreciated all of your good questions. One point of clarification, we thought all of our tweets would need to be approved, but as it turned out, once others watched what we were doing they realized that we were responsibly extending the reach of our messages.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s