Toyota’s North American President Yoshimi Inaba is supposed to testify at a U.S. congressional hearing tomorrow. Yikes! Yesterday, I asked via Profnet for input from PR pros across the country on what Toyota should be doing to begin the company’s repair job. If you didn’t see yesterday’s post, you might want to read that first and then the ones below:
“Toyota should be everywhere and have simple, concrete and prescriptive answers for consumers. The apology is important, but more importantly consumers just want answers and they don’t want to have to hunt for them. Set up a 1-800 number, have a dedicated Web site, and then immediately contact all your dealers and service centers and tell them exactly how it’s going to work.”
–Joe Hodas, SVP of Brand Communications at Vladimir Jones
“Regaining trust requires accountability. Toyota must go beyond merely fixing the problem to taking responsibility both with customers and dealers. Perhaps a ‘contract with our customers,’ warranty extensions, buy backs, etc.”
–Karen Albritton, president of Capstrat, a mid-sized PR and advertising agency based in Raleigh, N.C.
“Toyota Needs to ‘Open Up Their Kimono.’ There is a sense that Toyota is still holding back information about the possibility there are software and other electronic issues causing the sudden acceleration problem. If they want to begin to regain the confidence of the American consumer Toyota needs to open up their Kimono.”
–Scott Lorenz, President, Westwind Communications
“Complete transparency, admission of any responsibility, and an outline of anything else coming down the pike. Anything less won’t be trusted.”
–Jim Joseph, President of Lippe Taylor
“Immediately after Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota Motor Corp. North America and chairman of Toyota Motor Sales USA, testifies before the House subcommittee on Wednesday he should go to a suburban DC Toyota dealership, put on coveralls and help technicians replace a recalled accelerator part, then tell the media that from this moment there will be a new era of timely accountability at Toyota.”
–Richard Lavinthal, CEO of PRforLAW, LLC legal media relations in Bucks County, PA
“Toyota should take a note from Domino’s Pizza. Acknowledge the flaws, fix, acknowledge again and note the fixes and then spend the next 12-18 months on rebuilding consumer confidence through strategic advertising and PR. Social media will be a way in which Toyota can impact its customer base positively as well and help speed the healing.”
–Heather Logrippo, ExposeYourselfPR
“I think my biggest criticism of Toyota is the company appears to be having a cultural disconnect. People have died, others have been put in peril and they have been very slow to apologize. Apologies are a big deal in Japan, so they are made very carefully and not made lightly . . . Toyota needs to realize that the silence here is being read as being calculating (see lawyers advising them to not admit guilt and to minimize their litigation risk). This is the last thing they should be worried about. Toyota’s reputation, its most valuable asset is being put at risk.”
–Peter Morrissey, Associate Professor, Boston University College of Communication & President and CEO of Morrissey & Company (reputationexcellence.com)
Many thanks to all the people who responded to my Profnet query.