Toyota is currently in the midst of a massive product recall. Last week the company announced it would recall “approximately 2.3 million vehicles to correct sticking accelerator pedals on specific Toyota Division models.”
Just yesterday, the company changed its tune, moving from solely a recall to suspending sales of certain vehicles altogether. Dealers across the country are bracing for the worst but also hoping that somehow the recall will be behind them as soon as possible.
Gene Grabowski, senior VP-chair of crisis and litigation for Levick Strategic Communications, told PRNewser in a phone interview today, “Toyota is no longer in the car business, they are in the safety business, whether they like it or not.”
Grabowski expressed doubts in the company’s communications strategy, saying, “if they have a strategy, it’s looking pretty shaky right now.”
Other PR professionals agreeed. “The story just kind of drags on. That’s just deadly for a reputation,” Brenda Wrigley, chair of the public relations department at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications told the Associated Press.
Added Grabowski, “What they were telling consumers last week is different from what they are telling consumers this week. Last week was it was a minor malfunction, this week, they’re saying the car is still safe but we’re going to stop selling it. It’s a risky strategy.”
Golin Harris is PR agency of record for Toyota.
MORE: TVNewser reports that an ABC News investigation had a major impact on the recall.