Bimbo Banter

Missing from VW’s Response? Its Own People

  • Crisis
  • February 29, 2016
  • by Merrie Spaeth


Criticism continues for VW, months after their decision to cheat on vehicle emissions tests first came to light. When found out, its global leaders tried to blame a few “rogue” engineers. It didn’t fly.

Now, they have a new CEO, a new head of communications from Porsche, a roster of huge, expensive PR firms and a new advertising campaign. Missing from this effort? VW’s own employees.

The goal of empowering and training a company’s own people is to get their voices about their personal commitment, effort and expertise into the discussion. They don’t have to discuss the legal or even engineering situation. They do need to know how to say passionately, “I can’t tell you what’s happening in that area,” and them move onto a description of their own responsibility.

BP’s experience in the Gulf spill is an example. They first mounted ads with the incredibly unemotional CEO Tony Hayward rattling off statistics about the number of planes, booms and boats. Then they put some of their own employees in ads with soft music and visual effects. Finally, they let their own employees speak about the job they were doing and they were convincing.

The New York Times’ tough report on VW's response recounts all the pieces – except the one most needed. VW: enlist and empower your own employees!

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