As former PR chief and spokesperson for Sony, Universal and Turner Broadcasting, I did my fair share of spin doctoring and damage control with the press. So I’ve been watching Toyota’s media circus regarding the “sudden acceleration” in the Camry, Prius and Lexus like a hawk.
Now that Toyota’s CEO has issued a public apology, it looks like they’re on the way to digging out of the negative press. They’re a good company with a strong track record, so I have no doubt they’ll eventually recover. But they made a critical error that could have been avoided. And it’s one that you should avoid at all costs.
Instead of being proactive, Toyota was reactive. They waited until the pressure was on – and 19 people had died – before they acknowledged their responsibility. As the PR pro’s would say, they failed to get in front of the story. Instead, they responded because they had to, not because they cared about their customers. At least that’s the way it looks.
The lesson for all of us, entrepreneurs and executives alike, is that it’s not just how you deal with a problem, but when you deal with it that counts. If you make a mistake, you’ve got to step, be accountable and fix it immediately. In fact, it’s the immediacy with which you take corrective action that creates the perception of caring in the minds of your customers.
Wanna know how your customers and clients perceive you? Just go to LibbyGill.com and check out the Cool Tools section. You’ll find a great exercise to help you See Yourself as Others See You.
For more on personal and professional development, check out www.MyAccountabilityClub.com and get in on our next Thursday call!