Cool Jobs: GM Exec Takes Three-Pronged Approach to Rebuilding Brand

Communications professional mixes grassroots with digital engagement

Jocelyn K. Allen, Communications Director, General Motors (Image: Allen)

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The It Factor: Delivering strong and confident consumer impressions is an essential part of General Motors plan to regain consumer trust since it emerged from its government-backed Chapter 11 reorganization in 2009. A key executive charged with executing that strategy is Jocelyn K. Allen. As the director of regional, grassroots, and diversity communications, Allen is responsible for the public relations strategy for GM’s U.S. regional offices and national diversity outreach to media and other constituents.

A Day at the Office: Allen’s job incorporates three separate but interrelated positions. “GM has five regional offices around the country and each of those offices has communication staff that handle media relations within those regions who support GM media directives and support the executives in those offices,” she details. “All of those teams report up to me. On the grassroots side, I oversee the implementation of the work that we do in the community where we concentrate really get involve working on a local level to expose them to our product. The diversity piece of my job is really to focus externally on four markets: African American, Latino, Asian and LGBT. In every case, our goal is to win back support from consumers.”

Rebuiliding Engagement: Allen finds the traditional way of reaching customers where they are and relating to them is key. “It’s important for us to be on the front line —from the Rotary Club to the Chamber of Commerce, connecting and identifying with our audience,” she says.

Social media is another vital tool used to maximize the company’s reach among consumers. “GM is very invested in understanding how our various markets want to be communicated too, which very often breaks down to the nuances of culture and lifestyle. Social media allows us to really listen to our customers, so it’s an important platform for us that we are pursuing aggressively,” she says.

Strong Rebound: Though GM has experienced some distressing times as of late, Allen remains more than optimistic about future advancement based on new strategies and car models. “If we never forget what we’ve been through and vow to never repeat the things that got us to that place, then we will be great,” she says. “If you look at our product, it is some of the best product that we have ever produced. A big part of my job is to get people into our cars so that they can experience the amazing quality that GM delivers today. Our cars are very distinctive and represent powerful brands that stand on their own.  As long as we remained focused on what our consumers are telling us and stay in front of that, we will change the perceptions and images about our brand and be all right.”

Winning Advice: Allen says she mentors professionals both internally and externally, and she is one of the company’s lead recruiters for communications, which involves speaking to a lot of students and new professionals. “For those who wish to enter PR, it’s important to understand that this is a contact sport. You are a company spokeperson and an ambassador for the brand your represent, so you must know how to dig deep and stay motivated,” she says. “It’s also important to stay open to new opportunities and experiences, learn quickly on your feet and remember to surround yourself with people who have strengths that you don’t have. You need to bring your “A” game to the job every day and know that what you don’t know, you can learn.

 

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