talk about Toyota. What words come to mind when it comes to their PR?
Floundering? Lack of explanation? Multiple bungles and major bungling? Yeah,
it’s pretty awful. Last Wednesday, February 3rd, Reuters reported: “
Toyota has consistently played down recurring complaints of unintended
acceleration, breaking what PR experts said is the cardinal rule in crisis
management: assume the worst.”
surprising in all of this is the lack of communication coming from Toyota. Some
PR experts wonder, for example why Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, hasn’t
addressed the public or the media. You get the feeling that the people at
Toyota are still in shock, walking around muttering, “How could this happen . .
. to us?!”
happened here? Did someone say, “I have an idea! Let’s blame the floor mats!” I
know; that’s a little unfair, but honestly, I’m thinking that this could’ve
been handled differently. I understand that when lives have been lost,
especially those whose voices are memorialized on youtube.com (the infamous 911
call of the off-duty California Highway Patrol officer trying to bring his
rental Lexus to a stop).
happened to companies taking full responsibility for their products? What about
some respect and empathy toward the people who’ve died and their families who
wonder what to do next? And what about a succinct and organized approach for
dealing with the problems? In other words, how about outlining, hmm, let’s call
it a solution.
know I’m simplifying things, but this behemoth of a PR crisis is anything but
simple. When you read headlines like this one from The New York Times: “Toyota
Has Pattern of Slow Response on Safety Issues” you have to wonder how any
company could bounce back.
of the most important things we’ll learn from this episode is that you don’t
wait for a crisis to occur. And you certainly don’t wait to put a plan in place
once that crisis happens. You should always have a plan, one that’s often
reviewed, changed, and given a high priority.
try to get some comments from other public relations pros who’ve been through