General Motors : Talking people
Use of audio testimonies is both unusual and effective in giving the company a ‘human’ face.
GM (General Motors) is one of the ‘Big Three’ vehicle manufacturers, employing about 325,000 people worldwide. Its main website is both a gateway to its global operations and brands, and the country site for its ‘home’ market, the US.
Life@GM’ is one of three main content areas in the ‘Careers’ section, which can be reached from any page via the universal navigation bar. Clicking on the Life@GM button leads to an overview page that includes a dropdown menu of Career Path People pages featuring 12 job areas from Communications to Sales, service & marketing. Each leads in turn to its own job requirements overview page, five of which include not only a quote underneath a photograph of a named employee, but also an option to “Listen to audio clip”. The sound sequences, which last around 45 seconds, feature the employee talking about their responsibilities at GM and what it is like to work there.
Many companies talk about their employees being their greatest asset, but surprisingly few carry this through to the extent of using them in profiles or case studies in the careers sections of their websites. While GM still seems in two minds about the value of doing so, its use of audio testimonies is both unusual and effective in giving the company a ‘human’ face.
Partly, the success of the clips lies in the medium – the sound of a person’s voice is naturally more intimate and immediate than the written word. Partly, it is in GM’s use of interview ‘soundbites’ rather than scripted statements to produce a natural and individual flow to the words. All the Career Path People contributions lack supporting material about the individual or their job. That those which include an audio clip can nevertheless create an engaging first impression of GM and its people indicates the potential of ‘talkies’.http://www.gm.com
First published on 16 November, 2004