General Motors is in full-on crisis mode. GM has recalled 1.62 million vehicles globally, because a faulty ignition switch is capable of shutting off the engine, disabling the power steering, air bags and other electrical systems. 12 deaths and 31 crashes so far have been linked to the defective switches. 

To update GM employees on where things stand with the recall, CEO Mary Barra turned to video. As a result, she came off as confident, decisive and compassionate, saying, “Something went wrong with our process and terrible things happened.” While Barra’s delivery might have been a tad stiff and her hand gestures definitely forced, it was mission accomplished: her message was credible.

We all think of video as a valuable communications tool when there’s time for brainstorming and extensive pre-production. But video can also be an incredibly effective tool when communicating during a fast-moving crisis. That’s because video…

1)    Can be produced quickly. The most time-consuming element of the production is writing the statement itself to make sure it’s complete, strikes the right tone, and is approved by legal counsel. The shooting of the video and editing actually takes very little time. Much like during a breaking news story, well-shot and edited video can be turned around fast (under an hour) in the hands of professionals. It appears as if Barra was standing in front of a green screen in a studio, so set up time there is minimal. 

2)    Can communicate transparency. When statements are issued during a major crisis nowadays, it can seem as if the CEO and other executives are hiding behind a written news release. A video statement, if executed properly, communicates that you have nothing to hide…even if you’re not able to share every detail. It shows you’re willing to put a face on your brand—not just in the good times—but in difficult days as well.

3)    Can be easily shared across social media. According to Marketing Sherpa (and as I pointed out in an earlier blog), pages with video attract two to three times as many monthly visitors, double time spent on websites, and enable a 157% increase in organic traffic from search engines. We're talking the usual suspects here: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn. 

4)    Can be easily shared across mainstream media. Video is the one medium that can be most effectively shared with all broadcast outlets. TV will use clips from the video, radio will take the audio and print outlets can use quotes.

SM& Vice President T.J. Winick is a former broadcast journalist who writes regularly on video and leads Solomon McCown’s Creative Content Team. To learn more about our capabilities, click here. To learn more about SM&’s renown Crisis Practice, click here.