Monday, May 17, 2010

What Will Toyota Do With Its Polling Results?

Just because someone says it, writes it or reports it, doesn’t mean it is true and just because someone denies it, doesn’t mean it’s not true!

I wanted to clear that up.

This week The Washington Post reported that Toyota executives considered a public relations strategy to attack the credibility of at least two public critics – A Massachusetts safety consultant and a technology professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Part of the evidence the Post used for its story was a series of public polls commissioned by Toyota, and including questions that challenged the integrity and motivation of the two men.

Toyota says it never used the poll information in any advertisements and Congress wants to know if it was used in any other way.

In the real world, corporations and politicians spend a lot of money on market research and polling. Politicians do it for the same reason companies do; to find out what the public knows, cares and thinks about a product or a candidate and the competition, whether it’s another car company or an opposing candidate.

It’s how companies/politicians put that information to work that, sometimes, raises eyebrows.

There’s another group that uses similar polling – plaintiff’s attorneys. Toyota already faces more than 327 lawsuits and those lawyers use market research to see what arguments will win them money and where the most likely “customers” are and how to sign them up for their class action lawsuits.

You know how you feel about some of the so-called dirty politics that grow out of the polling information that candidates use. We should feel the same way if a company, like Toyota, were to use that kind of information for any other reason than a fair defense of its own position and to point out legitimate mistakes or misinformation from its critics.

From a crisis communication perspective, we frequently encourage our clients to avoid criticizing the “other side” and concentrate on emphasizing their own facts and truth.

No comments:

Post a Comment