Seeking to Kill Bad Press IS Bad Press

It’s a part of the game.  When a company is publicly traded they are targeted with a great deal of public scrutiny.  Many times, companies try to avoid this or discredit those who are criticizing them.  This is only natural to defend the company’s image.  However, I believe sometimes these efforts can make a company look worse.

A financial analysts I work with wrote up his/her analysis on a health care company.  The company didn’t like what our analyst had to say and tried to discredit our analyst.  However, our analyst proved that she built her opinion based off of financial reports that the company released themselves.  Not to mention, because our analyst is  part of an independent firm, (s)he may say what (s)he wishes about the company if it’s based in research and her professional opinion.  Someone with stakes in a stock cannot dictate what an independent person says about that stock.

I think the same is true for Toyota.  With all the public scrutiny,  Toyota tried to say that they were being unfairly scrutinized by the press.  It is the press’ job to identify issues that the public should know about. Knowing about Toyota’s “vehicle issues” is the public’s right .  This isn’t great for a company’s image; however, trying to place blame on those who are criticizing the company actually makes the company look defensive and ultimately guilty.  Pointing fingers is never good press. Here is a great article that analysis Toyota’s PR crisis.

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4 Responses to Seeking to Kill Bad Press IS Bad Press

  1. tburns says:

    I think that you are missing the point in Toyota saying that they are being “unfairly criticized.” I don’t think they are denying the fact that there are problems occuring with their vehicles; I also don’t think they are denying the fact that the public has a right to know.

    I think they are upset, because car companies have recalls ALL the time. Whether its a part under the hood or something inside the car or something on the exterior of the car, there are common problems that occur with all makes and models. However, how often do you hear about it? Take for example, right around the time the Toyota hoopla started, my boyfriend’s mom’s Nissan Altima had a recall. Why wasn’t that blasted over the news?

    Toyota is one of the most commonly bought cars in the U.S., and it has had recalls occur throughout its history multiple times. However, whether its because American car sales or down or because the Prius was such an innvative idea that everyone was waiting for something to go wrong, whatever the reason was behind it, this time the problem was a huge news topic and all you could hear about for days.

    Yes, car safety is certianly a “the public has the right to know” topic. And it really should be covered with such scrutiny all the time, but it really is not. I think that Toyota was simply wondering why was it them with the big fat finger pointing at them as a failure. Should they have expressed such a sentiment? That’s a different argument. But I think understanding why they felt such a thing was occuring with the media needs to be established first before asking if they should have said anything about how the company felt.

    • adouglas says:

      tburns- Considering they knew about the problems since 2006, I think they absolutely had disclosure issues. They also were mainly forced by the crisis situation to come fully clean, which they took quit a while to do. This has been a greater magnitude than other recalls. But you are right a lot of other recalls have taken place that did not receive similar publicity. The difference with this recall in comparison with the thousands of others, is this one is a FATAL problem with the computer technology in the car. Therefore they deserve to be scrutinized further. The consequences of the error are more dire.

  2. kwashburn says:

    I think Toyota handled the situation the best way they could. The company has been such a credible, reliable brand for so long that this probably was a shock to the public, therefore they were scrutinized a little more harsh than some other companies would have been. Their track record has been clean and successful and this gave others an opportunity to point fingers and make negative comments against Toyota. Sometimes I think criticizing other companies in order to make your company look better, only makes you look worse. I think it is a negative tactic to use, it can come off as immature and desperate. You should depend on the success of your own company, not on the failure of others.

  3. srugeris says:

    I think it was a mistake for Toyota to wait so long to respond. Their recall plan was effectively planned and Toyota has sufficient time and money to implement their PR plan immediately, but they waited a few days for it to come to the attention of the press. Adouglas, you are right that pointing fingers is never good press. I would assume they are frustrated that the press responded to the situation faster than they did. However, I disagree with your title, “Seeking to Kill Bad Press IS Bad Press,” because I think it is important in many cases to establish accuracy of facts that many bad reporters skip over for their own self-serving purposes. You are right that it may have looked like Toyota was almost complaining, if that’s what you meant by your title.

    Tburns, I agree with you about the Good crisis management focuses on addressing and accepting full responsibility. Toyota may have been trying to downplay the newsworthiness by affecting the immediacy of the story break. For example, if they were to implement the plan and then contact the reporters with all the positive measures they put into place and that the problem was already being resolved, it sounds better than just announcing there was a major mistake without any work to fix the problem being done yet. With public relations professionals on their payroll with multi-million dollar salaries, their crisis management plan was not implemented soon enough in my opinion.

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