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Write a report on Digital Media Strategy for Toyota Motor Corp.
This research project helped to identify major flaws in digital media strategies employed by top companies.
The research has provided insights into various nuances. This includes the media used, the person who gives out the release, the time of media release during crisis communication and the magnitude of the crisis that impacts the company’s PR. Further research also throws light on the fact that by using digital media with the correct combination and timeline of updates, this can be turned in favour of Toyota instead of causing a negative impact on the brand. Also, with such huge companies, there could be legal implications involved in any media strategy, and hence these aspects or dimensions also need to be carefully analysed.
The key recommendation is to use traditional video press media to make the primary communication. It is also important to use third party networks for secondary media releases and to have the CXOs on the field during media coverage for optimal benefit. The strategy suggested also includes the use of social media in secondary crisis communication since it is one of the most effective media choices in today’s digital world but has to be judiciously used for reaping the benefit. This media strategy has been devised considering all affected stakeholders during a crisis, such as – employees, customers, suppliers, agents, distributors, shareholders and the public.
For purposes of the research and report, the company considered is Toyota Motor Corporation, one of the most popular names in the automotive industry. Toyota's major communication problems show that crisis communication was the weakest link in the otherwise strong communication network. In order to enhance their current crisis communication plan, a digital media strategy has been suggested. This report would aim to propose a digital media strategy in detail for Toyota Motor Corp. This strategy considers all areas of crisis communication, Toyota's organisation structure, their stakeholders and their vision.
Crisis communication refers to the important pieces of communication that take place when an organisation is hit with a crisis (Russell & Reimer, 2015). Most organisations, including Toyota, have crisis management and disaster management mechanisms. But these typically involve steps to address the impact of the crisis on sales, revenue, distribution channels and such operational aspects. The crucial aspect of PR (Public relations) that impacts the whole company is the least thought of. In this context, a digital media strategy to handle communication at the time of a crisis becomes relevant.
The biggest crisis for Toyota was in 2012, and they had to take back 7 million cars worldwide due to a fault in their windows. This showed the biggest loophole in their crisis communication strategy, and their PR was severely hit (Heller & Darling, 2012).
This report provides a digital media strategy in a phased manner, and this strategy would be based on the journal articles earlier discussed. The strategy includes what has to be communicated, by whom it has to be communicated and the medium that has to be used by Toyota to handle a crisis situation effectively without affecting their PR.
The proposed strategy
As already pointed out, unlike other digital media strategies, in crisis communication, the first press release that the company gives out is the most crucial. Due to excessive press exposure in the current digital world, any statement issued by Toyota would immediately get circulated throughout the world. Toyota being a market leader in various automotive products, relies a lot on the brand image it has built over the years. Hence the most important focus of this digital media strategy was to ensure that this brand that has been built by the delivery of quality products over the years is not compromised due to mishandling of a crisis. The stages of the proposed strategy are:
Primary crisis communication:
1. Internal communication about the crisis. In most companies, including Toyota, during a crisis, employees panic and release incorrect information about the issue, which is used by the media to tarnish the brand. Hence, the primary step would be to inform the employees about the crisis, the reason, proposed corrective action and the impact of the crisis on Toyota’s name. This internal communication can be via internal email systems, video conferences, and one on one discussions with senior authorities who in turn communicate to their subordinates (Wright, 2012). Most importantly, clear communication has to be made to the Human Resources department. In such a state of panic, the HR team should have all relevant information so that they can re-assure the employees about the state of affairs.
2. Video press release by a Senior Board Member about the crisis. Any Chief officer (CXO) should take charge of this announcement instead of the company’s regular PR person or spokesperson. This gives the news greater credibility. Many times, although companies spend a lot of money on news releases, they fail to make their statement via the right person. The primary statement made attracts a lot of interest, and this could give rise to debates and mixed responses if not delivered right.
It is also important at this juncture for the members of the board to understand their roles and responsibilities when a member of media approaches them. Clear instructions should be given to all members in key roles to ensure clarity in communication.
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