RECALLS: Honda CEO sets an impressive standard

2014-10-28 by Ronn Torossian

honda recall

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.

About Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations. He is an experienced leader in the public relations industry with over 20 years of experience. Ronn Torossian has been named as Public Relations executive of the year by the American Business Awards, and has run countless award-winning Public Relations programs.

Ronn Torossian: Insights from a Native New Yorker and CEO of 5WPR

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 250 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities