Response #1: From a PR standpoint, how is Toyota handing the recall crisis? What does it take?

How does a Toyota handle such a crisis?  Not only is it affecting their brand, image and sales, it is causing deaths and numerous lawsuits.  And after a congressional hearing, Toyota is going to have to flex some serious muscle to get back into the game.

From a public relations, communications and marketing perspective, these questions come to mind:

  1. How does Toyota approach this issue? 
  2. With so many people discussing this issue 24/7, how does Toyota get in front of the issue? How do they re-gain public trust (from an image standpoint)?
  3. How does Toyota’s social media team interact with the blogosphere and twitterville? What communities are they interacting with and why?
  4. How do they track public perception and concerns via online discussion? How creditable is the information they find? How do they track, trend, and analyze all the information?
  5. And lastly, how did they decide to make a “Toyota Conversations” social media outlet on Tweetmeme? What is the breadth and depth? Who will take the time to read through the information? What’s its value?

I was inspired to write this blog post after reading an article online titled, Toyota’s Crisis: Prism Into How Social Media Has Radicalized Public Relations.  This article is just one out of the myriad of articles regarding Toyota’s use of social media during the crisis.  However, this article had a comment from Denise Morrissey, a social media guru employed by Toyota.  Her comment was nothing special, it was full of corporate speak, links to Toyota’s website, and a few sympathizing comments towards the end.  However, the comment stood out because it was directly from Toyota!  Her comment made me wonder, within what outlets are Toyota trying to establish conversation?  More so, where is the conversation occurring – within what social media sites? Has anyone else noticed comments from Toyota’s social media team on blog posts or articles? How many comments is Toyota’s team making a day?

Who are the brains behind Toyota’s social media efforts?  According to Toyota’s twitter list, toyotatweeps, they have four individuals dedicated to social media: Denise Morrissey, Scott DeYager, Sona Moon, and Amy Taylor.  Question is: how are they handling the vastness of the internet to monitor online chatter? Where do they start? What are their goals? Aside from the four toyotatweeps, how many others are working to promote trust and value?

To help deal with the online conversation and help spur public trust, Toyota established “Toyota Conversations” through tweetmeme.  In the comment on the blog post I mentioned earlier, Denise Morrissey directed viewers to Toyota Conversations, but I wonder was that the right decision, how many people are using that site as a resource? And how is it promoting a positive image for Toyota?

“You may notice after taking a look at all of the top stories that are being aggregated on the site, that most of the news is positive. That doesn’t seem to match the general tone of the media writing about Toyota, which has been quick to criticize the car company for its manufacturing mistakes. If you take a look at Twitter sentiment app Tweetfeel, the sentiment of Tweets mentioning Toyota lean more negative. Tweetmeme channels can be set up to pick up only certain news sources. It looks like Toyota picked the friendlier ones.”

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