How to learn from what Toyota learned.

Image of Toyota LogoToyota have had another recall issue to come to grips with. This should be no big deal. Most manufacturers have a number of these each year. Toyota’s always seem to come under a rather brighter spotlight which may be a reflection upon their reputation for process, reliability and build-quality. So, when an issue arrises, the media is quick to jump upon it.

You may remember the previous recall of 2009 that received a lot of high-profile press comment. One of the things that characterised that event was the surprisingly bumbling way that the company seemed to react. By comparison, this latest event was an object lesson on sound press relations and crisis management.

What can the rest of us learn from this?

  1. If it can happen, at some point it probably will. Don’t assume it can never happen to you no matter how sound your practices. Be prepared.
  2. Have your ‘spill-drill’ in place – know how you will deal with a media storm in practical terms. Who will handle what and how.
  3. Identify spokespeople in advance. There is nothing worse than journalists calling various different members of staff for comment. Some may have no experience with the media, others may know nothing of the problem. The result  can be conflicting, ill-informed and clumsy stories. Nothing looks worse. Get your spokespeople in place in advance: make sure everyone knows who they are and directs any questions to them.
  4. Don’t hide – nothing makes journalists more curious and antagonistic than, ‘No comment.’
  5. Act fast – in today’s digital world news flies! Deal with one story straightaway and you won’t have to deal with 100 ones in the morning.
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