Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Toyota's Ky. town follows local paper's advice in weathering storm of bad press about recalls

Toyota hasn't received much good publicity in recent week in the midst of a massive recall across several models for sticking brakes, but one small town to which the company brought thousands of jobs is staying positive. Workers at the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Ky., and other U.S. towns with similar facilities are returning to a more normal schedule this week as the company resumes full production, and they maintain the company will thrive again, Mickey Meece of The New York Times reports.

An editorial in the local newspaper, the Georgetown News Graphic, may have helped quell some local fears, Meece reports. Its headline read, "Rest easy, Toyota is on the job," in the editorial's headline. "In many parts of the country, Toyota is a brand,” said the editorial by Publisher Mike Scogin. "But to those of us here in Georgetown and in Kentucky, we know Toyota because we are Toyota. Our friends, neighbors and family members manufacture the cars in question." (Read more)
Meece writes, "For more than a week, Mr. Scogin said, Toyota news has dominated the front page of the newspaper, which is published three times a week. By Saturday, coverage of the murder of a former school bus driver was the top story." Georgetown, about 15 miles north of Lexington, held a population around 10,000 before Toyota opened its plant 20 years ago and has since ballooned to 25,000, Meece reports. (Read more)

Meanwhile, Toyota dealers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas pulled their ads from ABC-TV affiliates, protesting "excessive" coverage of the company's problems. Here is ABC's report. UPDATE, Feb. 10: Led by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, the Republican governors of Indiana, Mississippi and Alabama, all with Toyota plants, have sent a letter to Congress asking for "responsible and fair" treatment for the company, praising its "exemplary citizenship," decrying "aggressive and questionable news coverage," and asserting that "the real story is how quickly Toyota identified the problems, found solutions and delivered those solutions to its dealers." Beware when politicians start telling you what the real story is, but here's the letter.

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