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The Importance of an Apology: Toyota manages crisis, its leaders say “sorry” February 7, 2010

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Facing a major recall after discovering that some of its cars with malfunctioning gas pedals may be causing serious accidents, Toyota’s leaders have confronted the crisis with public apology. Toyota’s president, Akio Toyoda, apologized for his company’s recalls, and promised to ensure better quality control by setting up a special committee that he would lead. Moreover, the president and CEO of Toyota’s U.S. sales, Jim Lentz, said in a video on the company’s web site, “I know that our recalls have caused many of you concern and for that I am truly sorry.” Lentz also apologized to consumers on numerous morning news shows. With more than 2,000 documented reports of sticky gas pedals since 1999 that have caused 815 crashes, leaving 340 injured and 19 dead, it remains to be seen whether Toyota’s apologies will help repair the company’s image.

See the following videos to watch the apologies yourself, and to see a review of the company’s crisis management strategy:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why is offering an apology such an important part of crisis management?

2.  Aside from an apology, what else should companies like Toyota say when issuing a statement about a major product recall?

3.  What messages could Toyota use in its future campaigns to erase the public’s memory of this major crisis?



1. Melissa Edwards - February 7, 2010

Well, I guess sorry is the very least they could do. Now how about putting us Toyota owners to ease by fixing the freaking problem and fixing it fast.

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