Crisis Lessons

April 17, 2011

Crisis Lessons

I was lucky enough to attend the Arthur W. Page Society meeting a few weeks ago and hear some thought-producing  speakers on reputational issues in a complex world. I believe I promised in my last blog post that I would write more about the 10 lessons learned from the global corporate communications officer at Toyota, Jim Wisemen.  One of the statements he made which deeply resonated with me was how he used to think that he was among the top corporate crisis counselors – pre-recall, that is.  He candidly and I must say very humbly said that he learned once the crisis began that he had a thing or two to learn about crisis in today’s world.  Wisemen said that when the recall began, they were receiving 500 calls a day from the media! And although they had a 1-800 number for customers to call regarding the recalls and that they had been used to getting 3,000 calls daily on average, that figure jumped to 100,000 per day when the recall began.  And this 800 number had only been programmed to manage 15,000 per day.  Imagine managing in this type of reputation-on-fire environment.  So here are the 10 lessons he gave to the audience of senior corporate communications officers at the meeting. Worth keeping in a safe place to pull out when the fire bell rings at your company. His lessons are good guides to our collective futures. Thank you to Jim for sharing with us.

  1. Listen to customers
  2. Communicate internally, fast and frequently
  3. The new media breeds hysteria, deal with it
  4. Get help from friends
  5. Understand the politics and fight back
  6. Swallow pride and communicate with legal (you are now joined at the hip)
  7. Educate the media (consider informing reporters on automotive issues beforehand such as safety)
  8. Emphasize social media
  9. Stay true to your principles (The Toyota Way)
  10. Don’t let it ruin your life –try not to take it personally
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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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