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Posts Tagged ‘Akio Toyoda’

Guest Post: Crisis Comms Means Knowing When to Hold ‘Em and When to Walk Away

Another day, another crisis, it seems. But when a crisis arises, is it mandatory that a company react publicly?

Chris Gidez, U.S. director for risk management and crisis communication at Hill & Knowlton, takes a look at two recent case studies – Toyota and Taco Bell – to compare and contrast when a public response is appropriate, or even necessary. One of those circumstances: “The company is backing up its words with actions – e.g., file suit, etc.”

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Toyota and its Ongoing Reputation Redo

Photo: The Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot

Toyota needs “a better approach to dealing with what remains a crisis of confidence among consumers” says a Globe and Mail story. With other brands biting at its heels — Hyundai is set to launch the Elantra, Ford with a new Focus on the way and Honda’s new Civic on the horizon – the company’s new Corolla is a start, it says.

New headlights, taillights, and grille are a plus, for example, but paired with a “seemingly endless list of recalls,” the company “keeps undermining the incredible performance of their vehicles,” the story quotes DesRosiers Automotive Consultants data saying.

The story asks if Toyota may be lacking a “sense of urgency” born out of earlier successes.

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What Recall? Toyota Posts $1.2 Billion First Quarter Profit

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Despite a massive recall of more than 8 million cars in the first quarter, Toyota posted $2.2 billion in profit for the year and $1.2 billion in profit for the first quarter of 2010.

“We’re still in a storm – there’s been no change on that front…But from the storm, we’ve begun to see glimpses of sunny but faraway skies,” said Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda.

Toyota agreed to pay a maximum $16.4 million U.S. government fine in April, and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is undertaking a new investigation to determine whether or not Toyota stalled on the recall.

Golin Harris is PR agency of record for Toyota.

RELATED: Toyota PR VP Pre-Recall: ‘We Are Not Protecting Our Customers By Keeping This Quiet’

Toyota CEO Apologizes As FBI Raids Toyota Suppliers

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Things just seem to be getting worse for Toyota. As the company’s chief executive Akio Toyoda apologized in front of a U.S. congressional panel today, saying “we never run away from our problems,” the FBI raided the office of several Toyota suppliers in Detroit.

The raids add yet another layer onto the crisis communications catastrophe being faced by the company. Nearly every crisis communications executive PRNewser has spoken with said the company is not handling the recall as well as they could be.

Also in the hot seat: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA, which is now being implicated as “going to easy on the company” in advance of the recall.

Ray Wert, editor-in-chief of auto industry news blog Jalopnik told PRNewser earlier today, “I’m interested in hearing Akio Toyoda answering questions with a translator’s help. On the basest of levels, that alone may hurt their public perception given the automaker’s desire to market themselves as an American automaker. Especially after [Jim] Lentz’s inability to answer questions yesterday on safety because all of the real decision-making occurs at Toyota Japan.”

In regards to media coverage, Wert said, “There’s a handful of reporters who got into the hearing, but there aren’t any real media avails happening right now, especially given the news that the SEC and many state attorneys general may be filing or opening cases against Toyota.”

RELATED: Toyota To Dealers: Don’t Hire Your Own PR Firm

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Toyota To Dealers: Don’t Hire Your Own PR Firm

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Just last week, many media outlets — PRNewser included — reported that Southern California Toyota dealers took their image into their own hands, hiring powerhouse local PR agency Sitrick and Co. Now, it appears the deal never went through.

At the last minute, Toyota told dealers they preferred to handle the PR campaign.

“I was told Toyota and the dealers felt since they would essentially be delivering the same message, that Toyota Corp. should handle all communications,” Michael Sitrick told the Canadian Press.

Meanwhile, Quinn Gillespie & Associates dropped Toyota as a client this past Friday. QG&A president J. David Hoppe said the agency “was in a position adverse to Toyota.”

This all comes amidst news that Toyota executives highlighted $100 million in company savings for not issuing a recall this past summer, as well as the recall expanding into potential criminal and securities investigations.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. President James Lentz will testify in front of the House Energy Committee tomorrow. Toyota Motor Company CEO Akio Toyoda [pictured] will testify in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on February 24.

“We’re going to hold Toyota’s feet to the fire and make sure they do what’s necessary,” said Olivia Alair, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Department in a statement sent to The New York Times.

Toyota CEO Breaks Silence Amid Continuing Challenges

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Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda addressed media for the first time this past Friday since the company announced massive recalls. “Please believe me, [putting the] customer first is [our] first priority,” he said.

The press conference comes with news of yet another Toyota recall, this time more than 300,000 Prius’ set to begin as early as this Tuesday.

In other damaging news for the brand, ABC News reports that Toyota dealers in five southeast states have pulled all of their ads from ABC local affiliates in protest of “excessive stories on the Toyota issues.”