Toyota: the PR crisis

February 20, 2010 at 11:18 pm (Public Relations) (, , , )

The Toyota story in PR is huge nowadays. There are so many mistakes. It is not just the pedals that have problems. Toyota need to fix is PR as well.
In class we spoke so much about the importance of body language in Japan and how a bad bow can turn things worse.
But what should one think about Toyota if the president Akio Toyoda uses an Audi?
This is yet a another mistake that damages the reputation of Toyota. Those who represent the brand, (especially the president) should put down the flashy car and show that Toyota is safe. This incident really sends the wrong message, right from the center.
Mr. Toyoda was also reported to give only short statements.  This is really unwise as so many others speak question the safety of these cars.
It will take longer to counteract this air of ignorance around the leadership of Toyota than the time it takes to fix the cars. People who have no choice but to drive to carry on with their lives do have a reason to be worried.  Even if statistics  show that the likelihood of the accelerator or the break in the car malfunctioning is minimum, Toyota drivers can’t keep asking themselves: Will I be the next one? Will my car stop?
The slower the recalls and repairs take the more the panic will grow. Therefore the company really needs to communicate and fix, and should have done so from the beginning.
Probably the long term PR priority will be to rebuild the trust and the reputation for safety, by putting it out to the media as often as possible.  Toyota can no longer take trust for granted. I imagine they will need to enter competitions, compare themselves with other cars in the category and prove through there, where they stand.  It some way it is possible they have to start form nearly the beginning (depending on the damage  this crisis end up resulting in). As for being represented it is possible that Toyota will possibly need a new “face” , someone who people can connect with more. This representative has to have a very good rapport with the media. I wouldn’t be surprised if the would  get a (car racing) celebrity on board to enhance the image.

Future will tell how and if Toyota will be the safe brand again.

Meanwhile look at:

Friday Drop Bad week for Toyota UK Head PR Scott Borwnlee

Toyota CEO Will Now Testify Before Congress (Video)

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