Saving Toyota's Reputation

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Week 7, Assignment 4
Saving Toyota’s Reputation

Robin S. Klombers
Jack Welch Management Institute

Dr. Ardith Bowman, Professor
JWI 505 Business Communications

August 26, 2012

Audience Analysis
The assignment was to specifically rebuild Toyota’s public-facing reputation. I consider this to be both to customers, as well as from a brand management perspective, potential customers. In addition, I have considered the driver of another vehicle brand, who may recognize the Toyota logo and wonder if they are safe on the road next to that vehicle.

Communication Approach
My objective with respect to the approach for this assignment is to get a response from the media and from customers who receive this follow-up letter of, “Finally, maybe they get it.” I happen to have been a recipient of the initial letter as a Toyota owner at the time of the recalls. I thought back to how I reacted to it, as well as to what I wrote for W6, D2, as I crafted my letter. In Week 7, Lecture 1, there was mention of cultural interpretation as a cause for a lack of candor. The fact that Toyota is a Japanese company, weighed heavily on me as I considered the initial approach that was taken in February of 2010, as well as my attempt now. Traditionally, and according to Science Direct, Japanese companies have long-term plans in place that focus on growth and employee welfare, vs. that of financial goals. Toyota had been number one for quite some time and as a result, the Japanese culture may not have “permitted” the consideration of error or fault on their part. This consideration supports my W6, D2 sentiment of “disbelief internally that their product could be defective in some way.” In America, we take a proactive approach to crisis management, based upon the financial and brand impact that negative press can have – Tylenol and Pepsi-Cola as sited in Weiner are two examples of such mitigation. I considered Weiner’s Ten Rules for Crisis Management in preparing my...
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