Tuesday, January 20, 2015

PR expert and professor Shannon Bowen analyzes Toyota's PR response to SUA crisis and finds ethics wanting

Are we shocked that Toyota's ethics are wanting? ....um, no!  But this is interesting as a quantitative analysis of just how Toyota's PR was handled as it covered up SUA in general and electronically-induced SUA ...

Doing the Right Thing  - article describing the study and background

".....For Bowen, the episode is a stark example of what can happen when ethical behavior is not a driving force in top management and when a public relations strategy is not aligned with the tenets of ethical conduct. Her dissertation focused on how ethics derived from the work of 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant can serve as a guiding principle in public relations, and in her academic career she focuses on teaching and research involving the integration of ethical conduct into the highest decision-making levels of organizations. She sees an ethically grounded chief communications officer as an essential member of all top management teams."
Paper at Science Direct

This study employs a content analysis to examine news coverage concerning Toyota's recall crises from January 16, 2009, through November 21, 2012, in the following media: The New York TimesThe Washington PostUSA Today, and the news releases listed on the Toyota official website. We examine how the media frame Toyota's crises and responses, and whether the news coverage varied between mass media and Toyota's releases. The findings shed light on the crisis communication in terms of response strategy selection. In tracking the ethics of the Toyota crisis in the years since its inception, combined with a content analysis conducted in this paper, the authors attempted to integrate the literature of crisis management with that of ethics in public relations. Ethics should be foremost among the considerations of an organization's reputation and a primary factor of successful crisis management. The Toyota case has far reaching implications for ethical crisis management and recall strategy in the auto industry as a whole.