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General Motors is kicking off a new word-of-mouth campaign to get people talking about its lineup of vehicles. The talkers GM has in mind? Its own employees.
The campaign is a whistlestop event called the "Vehicle Plant Tour" -- which may not be the best title we've ever heard, but it's a pretty accurate description of the project. The Tour involves GM reps visiting 40 of the company's manufacturing plants with a number of hot GM vehicles in tow, including the Buick LaCrosse, the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon, the Chevrolet Equinox, Camaro and Malibu, and the GMC Terrain.
At each stop, factory employees will learn about those models, and they'll have the opportunity to test-drive them. There are also some public events on tap -- presumably so that the employees can experience the vehicles in the company of family, friends, and other members of the community. Each stop on the Tour will last about a month, and in total, the campaign is expected to reach about 40,000 GM employees. The Tour kicks off at facilities in Arlington, Texas, Defiance, Ohio, and Tonawanda, New York.
In fairness, this isn't a groundbreaking idea. Keeping employees in-the-know about company products is a longstanding tradition in many industries; restaurant employees, for example, learn their menus by tasting the food so they can accurately describe it and sell it to customers. And in fact, the Vehicle Plant Tour is itself the offshoot of smaller pilot programs that have taken place in GM facilities in Michigan over the past year.
That said, it sounds like a great campaign to us -- not only because it will give GM employees first-hand knowledge of the company's new vehicles, but also because it's likely to boost morale in the workplace, which is especially important for GM right now. Over the past year, General Motors has undergone some dramatic, traumatic changes, and thanks to ongoing personnel shakeups, the dust at GM yet to settle. Making things worse, many people have criticized GM for its inefficiency and for taking bailout dough from the feds, which has led some to refer to GM as "Government Motors". GM employees are a dedicated bunch, but in the face of all that instability and bad press, it's been a bit harder for them to keep their spirits high.
The Vehicle Plant Tour should help alleviate some of those problems. It's the sort of project that engages workers and makes them feel closer to the products they manufacture and to their fellow employees. As a result, they're likely to do better work and -- as GM certainly hopes -- talk up GM vehicles. It may not be what the rest of America thinks of as "social networking" these days, but hey: baby steps.
Even better: GM developed this project in conjunction with member of the UAW, which, you may remember, now owns a significant chunk of the company. Maybe the two have learned to play nice after all?