Lack of institutional control – embezzlement. It was revealed that automaker financial contributions to a joint venture union-global automaker National Training Center in the Metro Detroit area were being mis-conveyed to officers of the consortium. This proven malfeasance, which subsequently resulted in criminal prosecutions, presented a huge public relations nightmare for the union and its automaker partner as it appeared that the company was bribing the union for better contracts.
This adverse publicity and the resultant distrust called into question whether such training centers should exist; and distracted from their many real-world accomplishments in promoting autoworker training standards and career advancement, safer and more efficient work practices, and product quality.
Marx Layne & Co. devised and orchestrated a comprehensive community relations program to fully explain to the public, as well as specialized audiences including elected officials, industry regulators, the automotive press and autoworkers, the full scope of the National Training Center and its programs, why the training center existed, and its many benefits and achievements.
The components of this community relations campaign included the development of a dedicated National Training Center website that fully explained the Center’s programs and activities; publishing a series of e-newsletters and print newsletters; and extensive outreach to critical media reporters and outlets, to include media tours of the facilities. In pursuing this campaign, Marx Layne & Co. worked closely with the union’s legal counsel and high-level executives.
Working in this way with Marx Layne & Co., the union was able to better articulate to the public, the automotive industry and its workers, and select audiences, the purpose and value of the National Training Centers, thus, successfully “changing the conversation.”
This case study further demonstrates the importance of working with a public relations and crisis management firm with rich experience in the modern automotive industry, as well as organized labor, along with the ability counsel large entities on sensitive issues that can have wide-ranging impacts. In such assignments, Marx Layne & Co. also conducts post-crisis impact analysis and stakeholder engagement, aimed at sustaining any reputation recovery and fortification.