News from the crisis world brings us to the mess Toyota still finds themselves in -- a mess that just got messier with various reports pointing towards an email from a company exec to another Toyota employee basically begging the company to come clean about the various recall issues they were up against.
Can you hear the dominos falling?
Here's the gist of the latest PR head scratcher (from my post over at Technorati):
In January, Irving Miller, then a group vice president for Toyota Motor Sales USA, wrote to another Toyota staff member via e-mail, "I hate to break this to you but we have a tendency for mechanical failure in accelerator pedals of a certain manufacturer on certain models...The time to hide on this one is over. We need to come clean."
Just three days later, Toyota succumbed to pressure and issued a recall on sticking pedals affecting millions of vehicles.
Maybe I've been in the PR business too long, but I'm not shocked by this.
The most valuable asset a company has is their reputation. By no means do they want to jeopardize it because a good brand can sell a crappy product and a great brand can sell tons of good products, as was the case with Toyota (being the number one auto manufacturer).
However, consumers are seeing tons of Toyota ads, begging for a re-connection with the brand and a plea for forgiveness. Then news like this comes out and it'll only make matters worse, in my opinion.
The first thing you learn when working a PR crisis is to address it immediately. Gather your facts, alert all the appropriate audiences and begin the messaging campaign. Do not leave any stone unturned because believe me, someone will flip it over.
Just ask Toyota.