What Did We Learn from Toyota and Tiger Woods?

Crisis communicationsphoto created via wordle

Posted by Deb Fiebig, Director of PR

For weeks, we’ve seen the world’s largest and most profitable automaker besieged with negative publicity. Toyota’s accelerator problem came to a head in August, when a horrifying 911 call made moments before the crash was played over and over on the national news media. The company’s inability to communicate in a timely manner only made the situation worse.

The same can be said about the Tiger Woods incident. Not responding for 13 hours increased speculation and ignited the media frenzy to tarnish the image of the world’s most famous athlete.

Will Toyota and Tiger Woods recover? Yes, but it will take time. These examples highlight the importance of having a Crisis Communication Plan. In today’s 24/7 social media world, your competition, customers and industry pundits will be ready to talk to the media if you don’t. The quicker you respond, the better off you are.

Rules to remember when a crisis strikes:

  • Have the CEO answering questions openly and honestly.
  • Always tell the truth and speak from the heart.
  • Be prepared.
  • Listen to your customers.
  • Apologize and explain how you’re going to fix the problem.
  • Move quickly.
  • Make swift decisions and immediate adjustments.
  • Return all calls from the press promptly.

Avoid becoming the Toyotas and Tiger Woods of the world and have a crisis communications plan in place.

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