When Bob Nardelli, Chairman and CEO of beleaguered automaker Chrysler, posted Thank You America on Chryslerâ€™s corporate blog at the end of December, I imagine the last thing he or his communications team expected was the scale and depth of vitriolic comment left by some of the good citizens of the USA in response.
Beginning his post with a well-meaning â€œThank you for investing in Chrysler – America’s Car Companyâ€ was a trigger for the vitriol.
In particular, itâ€™s the unfortunate use of the word â€˜investingâ€™ â€“ itâ€™s what many people see that they have involuntarily done through the federal governmentâ€™s planned bailout of the US auto industry, so it isnâ€™t quite the best word that car customers would have in mind.
Thereâ€™s a lot of passion â€“ almost all of it totally negative â€“ in the more than 250 comments. And to make a comment, you have to register on the site, a process that tends to put off many people from commenting on blogs. Not these citizens. From just four of those many opinions:
Mr Nardelli, Fire your PR and advertising teams and execs immediately. We the People did not want to see any more ads and money wasted on ads, be it from Chrysler, et al, or from your own pocket.
Your resignation and the resignations of senior executives who have mismanaged the business would have been much more appropriate.
I’m speechless. And I’m saddened that a corporate management team is so inept at understanding public opinion. Some advice: issue a press release stating that you regret that you made a mistake using taxpayers’ money in this manner.
Thank You? Kiss mine you looters. I had ZERO choice in the matter.
While there is no direct response in the post or elsewhere on the blog from Mr Nardelli, or anyone else in Chrysler, that Iâ€™ve been able to see, one thing struck me head on â€“ all comments on the Chrysler blog are moderated.
That seems to mean that someone at Chrysler would have reviewed each of these comments, and approved them for public view. Or maybe reviewed once published and not removed any.
And itâ€™s certainly the most engaged-with post on the site. Contrast the number of comments on that post with just a handful on a post the other day announcing a strategic alliance with Italian carmaker Fiat, some news that youâ€™d think might make a lot of customers a lot happier.
I guess it illustrates one aspect of human nature â€“ or of pissed off customers â€“ that good-sounding news isnâ€™t necessarily that which stimulates reactions (if that were the case, we wouldnâ€™t have any tabloid newspapers).
Interesting to see what Chryslerâ€™s communicators do next.