Lessons from Toyota for the Pope

As a recovering catholic myself, I thought Michael Valpy’s column in The Globe and Mail this month should be required reading for the old guy in Rome who is running the world’s most out-of-touch religion. For his illuminating piece on ‘The Troubled Church: Catholics At Crossroads’, Valpy interviewed Gene Grabowski, a leading U.S. expert on consumer product recalls, in a  feature called Sex Abuse: Defences Unacceptable, Solutions Elusive.

This seemingly unlikely linkage – product recall plus catholicism – makes sense. Grabowski is a superstar in the world of public relations (he was named PR Week’s 2007 ‘Crisis Manager of the Year’ for his work on U.S. national recalls of pet food, spinach and 45,000 Chinese toy imports).

And issues management and crisis communication are part of an increasingly important focus in the field of public relations – whether you are in the business of marketing cars or marketing something called faith.  Continue reading

If only Avandia were more like Toyota

Poor Toyota.  The car maker has been forced to recall more than 8 million vehicles worldwide after news that at least 34 deaths have been linked to Toyota vehicle problems going back as far as 2004. But compare those 34 deaths with the more than 1,000 reports of patient deaths linked with the prescription drug Avandia in just one nine-month period last year, a death rate described by an Institute for Safe Medication Practices report as: “more than any other drug we monitor.” John Mack, editor of Pharma Marketing News, warns:

“If people are afraid to buy Toyotas, then based on average yearly death rates, they should be about 400 times more afraid to take Avandia.”   Continue reading