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The reeling Japanese automaker turns from old school PR to new media.
A bunch feel like Toyota marketing department plants:
And, since this is the internet, the best subset is just plain funny:
Will this new strategy work? Of course, it's too soon to know and much will depend upon Lentz's performance when the interview takes place next week.
Moreover, the 14 previous Digg Dialogues have starred less controversial subjects like NFL running back Adrian Peterson, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, and Matt Damon. So featuring a harried suit in crisis is a departure for Digg, let alone for a traditionally conservative corporate giant like Toyota.
But in the grand scheme of crisis management — to say nothing of the vagaries of a fragmenting media industry and the idiosyncrasies of a worldwide consumer market — this feels like the right move for our times.
First, it allows a global audience to ask a global company about a global problem. Toyota is putting the world in the world wide web, as a way to respond directly to its cascading quality and image woes.
But best of all, the Digg strategy sidesteps well-coifed talking heads like the "Today" show's Matt Lauer and ABC's Brian Ross. That's a big depature from traditional ways to get a corporate message out.
Instead, it puts the power — or at least the power to question — where it belongs: in the hands of people who actually might want to buy Toyotas again.
This recall crisis will only end with real people making real decisions about what they really want to buy. For Toyota, a more transparent and democratic approach now playing out on Digg could make all the difference.