Friday, June 4, 2010
Ronald Reagan Fact # 20
The global economy has brought to the forefront clear cultural differences between modes of crisis communication and the means in which those are accepted as message delivery systems beyond one nation’s boarders.
For Japan based Toyota, the recent product recall in America was a lengthy, quiet process that redefined conservatism and showed the Japanese company that although business and information may translate well across boarders, the American perception of a sincere apology is something that public relations professionals at Toyota are realizing may prove to be more difficult said than done.
When crisis occurs within a Japanese company, it will tend to rely on a professional and trusted public relations firm for help with crisis communication. The only problem with this technique is the overarching Japanese tendency to keep quiet.
Problems within a Japanese company are often dealt with by middle management, are communicated horizontally and not top to bottom, and are in the hands of leaders not interested in taking risks. These factors limit the company leader’s foresight to evaluate how a crisis will affect the entire company in the long run.
When Toyota communicated it’s product recall earlier this year, the American public was upset with the company because of the slow received and hardly seen public apology issued by Toyota spokesmen.
Toyota’s recall in the United States proves that, even today, the global business still needs a great communicator.
A Culture of Apologies was written by Inoue, Takashi, Ph. D, “A Culture of Apologies.” Public Relations Journal May 24, 2010, www.prsa org.