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Toyota’s PR Disaster – What We Can Learn From It

Toyota’s PR Disaster – What We Can Learn From It

For many year’s Toyota was synonymous with quality, not any more. All it took was one massive recall (now two as of this writing) to change the public’s perception from one of admiration to genuine fear of getting behind the steering wheel of a Toyota. We think we know what went wrong with Toyota the company.

The first mistake that Toyota executives made was to not listen. We are confident that Toyota higher-ups were counseled by their legal and PR teams to get in front of this crisis, to own-up to the brake failures and to find the fix quickly. Did they do it? This leads into their second mistake.

Toyota failed to act quickly. They allowed the crisis to get ahead of them instead of getting in front of the crisis. It took way too long for Toyota to act on a solution or finding a fix to their brakes problem. We understand that Toyota is a large organization and to steer a large ship in a different direction takes time. But look at it another way, Toyota has massive resources at its command. Why did it fail to act quickly?

It took nearly two weeks for Toyota’s big cheese – Mr. Toyoda himself - in Japan to communicate. The press conference was hastily put together – like almost an afterthought -and when he did say something, it was the wrong thing. Case in point, (1) he said during his press conference there would be no Prius recall, (2) then days later Toyota said they were looking into it, and (3) now nearly half a million Prius’ are being recalled worldwide. It’s a case of the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. The right information is not being funneled where it should be.

And finally, Toyota is not executing. Toyota should be humming along on all cylinders. Every department, dealership and division should know what to do, when to do it and what to say. Instead, the entire organization looks in disarray and confused. Another part of the problem is that Toyota was probably run so well and methodically that when problems did arise they just were not ready or equipped to manage such a massive PR disaster.

So in a crisis or when experiencing business problems, what can we learn from Toyota: Listen, Act, Communicate and Execute! You will look poised, in control and ahead of any problem. You don’t want to look like you work for Toyota.

Posted by Ramir Camu on 02/09 at 11:22 AM in BusinessPublic Relations

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