NYT Article: In Serious Company Crisis, "P.R. May Only 'Get People to Hate Them Less.'"


The Story

The New York Times reported quite the story about the recent P.R. failings of BP, Toyota, and Goldman Sachs, citing both missteps and what sounds like hopelessness.  Some crises, the article concludes, may be beyond repair through communication. This paints a dim picture of corporations' attempts to recapture trust and rebuild a brand. 

NYT In Case of EmergencyNYT In Case of Emergency
NYT In Case of Emergency 

Discussion Starters

  • Do you agree with the conclusions drawn in the article? Why or why not?
  • If these companies-BP, Toyota, and Goldman-hadn't made mistakes in their communication, would public perception be different?
  • Thinking as a customer or client of each business, what, if anything could each company have done differently to win you over?
  • What principles of persuasion (from Chapter 7) did each company use? Which could it have used more or less?

Assignment Ideas

  • As a group, watch viewers' perceptions of CEO Akio Toyoda, as he discusses Toyota's issues. Why do you think the viewers gave him mixed reviews, with "skepticism" their most common reaction? At what points did viewers' ratings decrease and increase? What do you think caused these changes?
  • After reading the NY Times article, choose one of the three companies and do your own research about how it handled the crisis. Write a report to the CEO with your analysis and recommendations for communicating during a crisis in the future.
  • Find a speech or commercial from one of these companies about its crisis. You'll find several on MediaCurves.com, on YouTube, and on each company's website. Analyze the video in terms of persuasion techniques discussed in Chapter 7. Write a memo summarizing your analysis.