Goldman Sachs & Toyota Make Crisis PR Missteps, Says Dobson

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Brian Dobson of says the Crisis-Arch(tm) is predictable when major problems hit, such as at Goldman Sachs and Toyota, and no brand is beyond the corrective reach of public opinion. He adds, Crisis PR missteps can be fixed by both companies, but it will take time to regain brand luster.

If you’re the best-in-class, it’s best to show class in all situations, especially in crisis management

“This is shaping up to be the year-of-the-crisis as iconic brands Goldman Sachs and Toyota took major damage due to crisis public relations missteps in prevention and initial handling as a media blitz hit each brand,” said Brian Dobson of Dobson Communications, a public relations and crisis PR firm.

“If you’re the best-in-class, it’s best to show class in all situations, especially in crisis management,” said Dobson.

“Despite being at the top of their competitive sectors, the gleaming images of Goldman Sachs and Toyota each got tarnished in a matter of days in crises that could have been prevented or minimized with tighter controls,” said the PR expert who has been quoted in the media about various crises during the past years.

“To a large degree, the Toyota and Goldman brand damage was due to decisions that the public regarded as pushing the bounds of propriety,” said Dobson.

“No brand is beyond the corrective reach of public opinion,” he added. “Goldman is mired in what the public sees as favoring certain clients and benefiting from a public bailout and Toyota is seen as initially minimizing electronic acceleration problems by focusing on floor mat and gas pedal issues.”

Dobson predicts that the crises will fade but so will the luster of those top brands. “Bottom line, Goldman will still be a top investment bank and Toyota will remain a leading car maker. However, facets of their gleaming reputations may not shine as brilliantly until time and performance help to regain lost luster.”

“The crisis PR errors of major companies indicate an unpreparedness that runs counter to the general assumption that major companies are run by the best managers,” said the former head of PR at a Fortune 50 company.

“Toyota is running car deals to regain its market and sales have started to climb once again after an initial sharp decline. Goldman is so vast and intrinsically a part of the capitalist structure of America that its successful future seems assured. Both companies have massive financial resources to tap in fixing damage,” said Dobson, founder of

“It is important to show concern and full disclosure as soon as a crisis hits. Toyota seemed initially disengaged as consumer fears mounted regarding gas and brake pedal troubles. Some of the Goldman officials seemed stoic in Congressional hearings," said Dobson.

"Crisis begets crisis. Product and image problems that cause media coverage are often followed by regulatory hearings and more oversight, turmoil among suppliers and distributors, weakened customer loyalty and market share losses. Toyota has had each of these elements hit its brand, and Goldman has already been before a Congressional committee to answer questions and is facing a Justice Department criminal probe.”

Dobson said, “The Crisis-Arch™ in the case of a major company is fairly predictable. There is a massive problem with attempts to minimize the scope, followed by heavy media attention, Congressional hearings, customer dissatisfaction, morale problems and class action lawsuits or more.”

Seeing recovery ahead for both, he added "Goldman Sachs and Toyota can rebuild public reputations and regain popular support by being open, transparent in their actions and responsive. Both grew to prominence and dominance by being great companies, but they went somewhat off course and corrective actions are underway.”

Dobson has managed crisis PR in many situations, including for a global company's European unit during an extortion episode, brand image in a food recall, client comments during a major Justice Department case, crisis PR strategy for a firm embroiled in a tainted blood scandal and as spokesman during plant closings, among other crises.

Dobson Communications is a full service public relations firm with expertise in marketing, product and corporate public relations in addition to crisis PR. For more information visit, or contact BGreen(at)DobsonPR(dot)com or call 203-894-9240.        

© 2010 Brian Dobson

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