This article contains quotes from Ronn Torossian of 5WPR based in New York City.
Very few things can wreck perfectly good public relations like a public recall. Just ask GM. But auto recalls don’t have to kill your credibility. Ronn Torossian reveals how a recent move by a top automaker’s CEO shows how one can turn negative news into positive PR.
Honda recently announced a recall of 5 million cars in America related to faulty airbags. The issue, which has been responsible for at least four deaths, came on the heels of other massive recalls by competitors. However, unlike its competitors, Honda’s top executives have chosen to take a personal financial hit in the wake of the recalls. Honda CEO Takanobu Ito was one of the first – by taking a 20 percent pay cut for three months. Further, Honda Chairman Fumihiko Ike and 11 other directors will return 10 percent of their pay. While these sums may not prove to be huge losses for the car company’s top executives, the gesture translates into very positive public relations.
Honda is still working to fix the mechanical problem, however, this PR move has allowed the company to quickly and simply change the direction of news reporting as well as the public’s opinion surrounding the recall. Instead of just being one more uncaring automaker, Honda is now regarded as the company whose CEO took responsibility for a problem AND THEN went forward to work on a solution.
Ronn Torossian believes this PR stance works even better because it practically forces news reporters discussing Honda’s move to list other competitors whose top brass did not take the same personal responsibility. Americans love personal responsibility – particularly when it is being demonstrated by a household brand name whose associates really screwed up. This PR move might just encourage many buyers to decide that Honda is even more American than its competitors who actually manufacture vehicles in the USA.