Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Drastic Action by Toyota

As a crisis consultant, we frequently are faced with making the best recommendation to a client facing a difficult situation.

The "best recommendation" is not always the perfect recommendation, because the "perfect" recommendation is just not practical or saleable to the decision makers in an organization.

My hat's off to the person or persons who recommended Toyota suspend manufacture of eight models with potentially flawed accelerators, and I am equally impressed with the decision makers at Toyota who made the decision to stop production until the problem can be fixed.

Skeptics may say Toyota is using this problem to "save money" by temporarily halting production and not paying suspended employees for days or weeks. If that was the motivation for suspending production of the Camry, Avalon, RAV4, Corolla, Matrix, Highlander, Tundra and Sequoia, it may cost the company a lot more than it saves in reputation damage to those brands.

We almost always counsel clients to take responsibility for their problem or mistake and then fix it, and begin rebuilding customer confidence. Tylenol was one of the first really big examples of a company taking drastic action and recovering stronger than ever as a brand, and Tylenol was the victim of an outsiders' actions. The company had not done anything wrong.

I've always been taught, and believe very strongly, that whether in our personal lives or our business lives, "doing the right thing, is almost always the right thing to do!"

Toyota is proving that again.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Royal Caribbean Explains Itself

Three days after an earthquake leveled the largest city on the south side of Haiti, Royal Caribbean cruise ships began sailing into the north side of the island nation, bringing passengers to Labadee, a day-stop on the Royal Caribbean cruise schedule.

Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein did a live interview on National Public Radio a few days later, explaining, not defending, the company's decision to resume stops at the devastated island.

In a very appropriate tone and style, he explained that the Haitian government had invited his ships to resume stops in Labadee because the locals needed the business, since that part of the island will bear a significant part of the burden of helping the quake ravaged south side rebuild.

In addition, Goldstein announced his ships were carrying much needed water and other supplies that were being unloaded at Labadee, Haiti and trucked the 80-miles across the island to Port-au-Prince. He had already announced that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is committed to provide $1-million in humanitarian relief to Haiti.

Critics claim the company is insensitive to the suffering on the other side of the island. $1-million dollars of insensitivity most likely will be very helpful to the victims of this awful disaster.

Cruise lines frequently stumble when faced with crises, but in this case Royal Caribbean has stepped up, and not only not stumbled, but appears to be well prepared to head-off unwarranted criticism.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Crisis Communication Training Opportunity

The first month of the new year is half-over and the first Institute for Crisis Management Crisis Communication Certification Course is fast approaching -- Sept. 2,3 & 4 -- it is not too late to sign-up and plan your trip to Louisville, KY for the intensive and thorough two-day Crisis Communication training and/or the optional third day of media/spokesperson training.

There are still openings in all four sessions of the 2010 Edition of the ICM Crisis Communication Management Certification Course.
Feb. 2-3 & 4
May 11-12 & 13
July 20-21 & 22
Sept. 21-22 & 23

For more information go to:

If you are part of a management team, and particularly if you are on the crisis management team, you will find ICM's crisis training extremely valuable.

Whether you are responsible for internal or external communication or not, the ICM crisis training will be worth the trip. And even if you are not normally the designated spokesperson, the third day of spokesperson training will be helpful. The more you know about the media and how to "use" the media in a crisis or any other time, the easier it will be for you to do your job, regardless of what your responsibilities may be.

A member of the United Nations Mission to Haiti came to Louisville in October for media spokesperson training. Less than three months later the earthquake struck and he has been using what he learned with us, around the clock, as media stream into the devastated island nation to report on the quake aftermath.

There is no company, organization or non-profit, no matter how big or small, that will not benefit from crisis communication planning, training and media/spokesperson training.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lessons From Haiti

The dust has not even begun to settle in Haiti, literally, and there are lessons for every community, organization and business everywhere.

Natural disasters are inevitable and each part of the world/country has its own set of most likely types. In the Midwest, its tornadoes and flooding. In the southeast its hurricanes, flooding and tornadoes. In various parts of the U.S. there are earthquake zones. In different countries there are different combinations of natural disasters ranging from earthquakes to flooding to tsunamis.

It doesn't matter if you are a small business or big one, small town or big city, non-profit or for profit, you need to have three crisis plans: 1) a crisis or disaster operations plan, 2) a crisis communication plan, and 3) a continuity or recovery plan.

If you have one of each, when was the last time you updated it or practiced with it?

Like the businesses in the World Trade Center Towers Sept. 11, 2001, most of the businesses and organizations in Port-au-Prince that have a crisis plan will recover and rebuild. Those that did not have a plan, like those in the Towers, will not recover.

The Institute for Crisis Management has consultants with years of experience, ready to help you update your existing crisis plans or create a new set of crisis plans.