Tylenol vs. Toyota: Crisis Management at Its Best and Worst

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Tylenol Vs. Toyota: Crisis Management at Its Best and Worst

Tylenol and Toyota are two companies that have faced adversity in the form of crises. In Chicago in 1982, Tylenol was faced with the crisis of people dying from consuming its medication. The company acted quickly and appropriately; it was able to minimize its negative publicity and clear its image. Toyota has had its own recent crisis, and has been forced to recall over 8.5 million vehicles in the past seven months due to defective accelerator pedals. Some of these cars have been on the road since 2004. According to Corporate Communication by Paul A. Argenti, there are eight steps that should be followed in order to manage a crisis. They are as follows: * Step 1: Get Control of the Situation- First off, the appropriate manager must be made aware of the situation. His or her role is to organize everyone and get control of what is happening; this means that the problem must be defined. Goals should be set so the company’s constituencies will be able to measure its progress. * Step 2: Gather as Much Information as Possible- It is important for companies to understand the full extent of the problem. Data must be collected from numerous and reliable sources to ensure accuracy. Some companies have been negatively judged because the information took too long to be presented to the public. Even if it takes time to gather information, the company should still release a statement to explain its delay. * Step 3: Set Up a Centralized Crisis Management Center- Managers should set up a center that can serve as a platform for all communication during the crisis. Fewer communication failures will occur if all of the planning and decision making take place at one location. * Step 4: Communicate Early and Often- The company spokesperson should give a statement as soon as possible especially if the crisis involves a threat to lives or property. The spokesperson should also alleviate constituency concerns by answering the audiences’ questions. Employees, media members, and other constituencies should be told that the crisis center will continually release updated information. * Step 5: Understand the Media’s Mission in a Crisis- The company facing the crisis must remember that the media will always try to make a story more interesting and they will always try to break the news before their competition. Therefore, the company must work with the media to avoid false reports from being released. Also by doing this the company will stay on the good side of the media and prevent themselves from appearing secretive or untrustworthy. * Step 6: Communicate Directly with Affected Constituents- First a company needs to prioritize its constituencies. Whichever constituency is the most drastically affected by the crisis should be dealt with first. It needs to realize that while communicating through the media is helpful, it should be communicating directly as well. The medium of communication must be appropriately selected. A letter is usually a good form but if time is of the essence multiple mediums may be employed, including email. * Step 7: Remember that Business Must Continue- Whether on the crisis team or not, managers need to remain conscious of how the company is doing. He or she should try to anticipate any effects of a crisis in all aspects of business. * Step 8: Make Plans to Avoid Another Crisis Immediately- After a crisis, communication experts and managers should collaborate on ensuring the company will be more prepared the next time. Preparation is important in handling crises successfully.

The President of Toyota, Akio Toyoda is the grandson of Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries. He took over in the summer of 2009 to become president of the largest automaker in the world. When he first took his position he did not communicate how he planned to handle problems the company may face. Toyota has been a widely featured story in the...
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