Today’s congressional hearings on T0yota’s safety problems and a recent mini-crisis at work have prompted me to focus on the long held rules of crisis communications. If you read today’s coverage of the congressional hearings and what Toyota is doing about its unintended acceleration problem, you can see how these rules come into play.
Rule One: Show you care. Demonstrating that you are concerned about the issue shows that you are a responsible corporate citizen. Saying that you are concerned is great, but showing you are concerned is better.
Rule Two: Take action. The best way to show you are concerned is to take action to address the problem. This should be done as quickly as possible.
Rule Three: Admit mistakes and apologize for them. Toyota has done this today and it is an extremely effective tactic. Everyone knows that we all make mistakes and we are very forgiving if we believe the errors were unintentional. Americans love anyone who is willing to fall on their sword.
Rule Four: Take steps to make sure this horrible thing never happens again. Now this is easier said than done, but if you do steps one through three correctly, most folks will take you at your word for step four. Now just make sure it never does happen again or you’ll really be in trouble.