Public Relations at Toyota
Public Relations at Toyota: Toyota and the effect of public relations to its recall on vehicles production.
A good company that had spoilt its reputation to its customers is Toyota. The company specifically received claims from its customers that some certain features were not functioning properly. This was directly concluded as a decline in the quality of their products. Although Toyota was placed at a bad position in the public image, it played every role it could in order to repair the negative publicity. Examples of reported claims included poorly placed floor mats under the seat of the driver, which was linked to the cases of uncontrolled acceleration. The company received extended public scrutiny and critique when a Toyota Lexus owner had a fatal crash and died as a result of failure of the accelerator (Fan, 2011).
The masses protested on social media and both physically claiming that the company was responsible as accelerator related cases were being reported daily. A number of Toyota owners also reported cases where their gas pedals were sticky. This prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to put pressure on the company and order for proper scrutiny of their production process. They also ordered for a total recall of the additional vehicles by the company including other of its models. The company was hit by a total challenge as it struggled to clear off its bad image in a bid to spring back to business. Their domination in the market had started to diminish as its popularity also started to fade away. Considering that previously, its reputation was regarded highly in relation to the quality of its products, the company knew that something had to be done immediately. The media played a big part in notably publicizing the defects in Toyota vehicles, a move that was negatively received by the public, although some of its competitors enjoyed the media outrage.
Toyota knew that they had to introduce effective public relations techniques in order to survive the fall and get back into operation. Although the company is still in the recovery process, it might still take some more time before it completely survive the negative impacts of the recall. They first came up with a new motto which would act as a motivation to its staff and assure its clients of better expectations. The motto was, “move forward”. Public relations is the specific act of managing the spread of information, which in most cases is negative information concerning the products or services of a company (Stewart, 2007). Through public relations, Toyota decided to control the negativity in their company through social media. In Twitter and Facebook specifically, they guarded their reputation through assuring their customers that all the defaults were restored and all their cars were functioning to full capacity.
Toyota used the media to manage customer relations and also in turn assure customers of better products with zero defaults. Toyota also invested heavily in its marketing team in a bid to reach out to more customers and convince them on the betterment of their brand. They also came up with strict policies on faulty new cars, making It clear that equal compensation or complete replacement would be done if a vehicle was found to be faulty. This was as a measure to assure their customers of the complete change and improvement in their vehicle manufacturing process. Although it was challenging in the start, the company started gaining back their customer trust with time. Toyota is still currently in the process of recovering from the recall on its production, a move that reduced its annual expected returns and one which lowered greatly its annual profits. I would therefore advise Toyota to maintain effective public relations and maintain the existing client trust, in a bid to improve it. This way, it will gain back its reputation and come back into full operation. A complete change and careful scrutiny of its workers and clear inspection of the completed products will reduce the number of new reported cases of default. Testing of the manufactured cars is also highly advisable.
Fan, David P., Geddes, David S., and Flory, Felix. (2011). The Toyota recall crisis: Media impact on Toyota’s corporate brand reputation. Paper presented at the 2011 conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.
Stewart, Thomas A. & Raman, Anand. (2007). Lessons from Toyota’s long drive. Harvard Business Review 85 (7), 74-76.