A wedding toast from a corporate PR guy

follow url Blog writers should stick to their knitting. This being a blog about communications issues, I keep the focus on issues in communications, or at least current issues from the lens of a corporate communicator.

buy an essay But in five days my oldest son is getting married, and the upcoming joyous event is at the center of most of my thoughts these days.

So I'm going to muse on what I have prepared to pass on to my son, Mike, and to his bride, Michelle. I hope these thoughts are received in the spirit they are offered, a little preachy perhaps, but well-intended.

I plan to make a five-minute toast/blessing at the rehearsal dinner. (My number two son, Tim, the best man, gets the big stage of the wedding reception toast, and I'm sure he will make the most of it.) After a few not-too-embarrassing anecdotes from Mike's childhood, I'll offer these short bits of unsolicited wisdom (hey, we're footing the bill, so I might as well take the opportunity to offer my two cents…):

  • One – invite the Lord into your marriage. Pray together every day.
  • Two—Listen to each other, even when you’re sure you are right.
  • Three—Be kind to each other in all ways.
  • Four—Be a team together, a oneness in each other. Any hurt you would cause the other, hurts yourself. Every kindness, every act of generosity to the other, makes you happy.
  • Five—See every day as a gift not to be wasted, part of your lifelong journey together, and an opportunity to learn and grow a little more.
  • Six—Stay close to your family, even when you are far away.
  • Seven—Make good friends of good people, and hold on to your friendships. People are not lettuce, after all. (That’s an inside joke; I'll explain the reference in my next post).

- Jon Harmon

Thankful for family brought together by the holiday. What are you thnakful for?

Is Toyota on a path to becoming Walmart — aka, the ‘Evil Empire’ so many people love to hate?

New twists and turns in the Toyota crisis saga:

As predicted here, Congress is starting to clamor for company President Akio Toyoda to testify. So I’ll repeat my advice from Feeding Frenzy: “When Congress calls your company on the carpet, they want to hear from your CEO. Don’t waste time arguing; it’s not an argument you’re going to win.”

News reports now say Toyoda plans a trip to the U.S. in March to meet with media, dealers and others to try to help rebuild trust in the company. The company is not yet saying that he will testify before Congress. Better bake that into the boss’ itinerary, guys.

It was less than a week ago that Toyoda finally emerged from his undisclosed bunker to apologize at a hastily called Friday evening press conference that got mixed reviews from the Japanese press. But at least he is taking steps to shed the unflattering nickname: “No-show Akio.”

Toyota’s quality problems are snowballing like a runaway Lexus down Capital Hill in a blizzard – first rogue floormats then a faulty accelerator pedal blamed for the sudden acceleration worries, then hesitant brakes in Prius, the company’s halo car, now worries about steering problems in Corolla, the world’s best-selling car. What’s next? Will the Tundra be blamed for record snowfalls in Washington?

Are the media just piling-on in gleeful Japan-bashing? Please. Spare me.

I remember back in early 2006 asking my Ford colleagues the question: click here When will Toyota become Wal-Mart?

The Japanese automaker was on a decades-long roll, set to surpass GM as the world’s largest automaker and it occurred to me that we might be witnessing a transformation. The much-admired, seldom-criticized Toyota juggernaut might be headed into a buzz-saw. Everyone aims their arrows at No. 1. Just ask Wal-Mart. When it grew from much-admired, seldom-criticized regional retailer bringing low prices and brand-name quality to small towns in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma to become the world’s largest retailer, it became a magnet for unrelenting criticism that simply out-matched its quaint and unsophisticated PR department.

That will never happen to Toyota, I was told. They’re much more sophisticated and strategic in everything they do, including communications. Well, that sophistication also made the company arrogant and impervious to criticism. The company may not yet be inspiring a whole cottage industry of anti-Toyota megaphones ala Wal-mart Watch or WalmartSucks.org – but those organizations exist because of anti-Walmart-litigation-enriched lawyers (“Find a Lawyer to Sue Wal-mart“) and the plaintiff lawyers defintiely smell a cash cow in Toyota.

With lawsuits now flooding in against Toyota, the critics are marching to the beat of the cash register. Maybe the supposedly grass roots site, ToyotausaSucks.com, will be joined by louder voices. Maybe Toyota is having a full-on Wal-Mart.

- Jon Harmon

Update: Toyota responds to criticism about shipping parts to plants ahead of customers

Update to story below from Toyota's newsroom:

Toyota's Statement On Associated Press Story:
 
“Our highest priority is to fix the accelerator pedal problems for our existing customers, and our pedal supplier is starting to ship newly designed pedals to dealers to meet the most immediate needs.  One of the main reasons we are stopping production next week is to make more of the new pedals available to dealers right away. But at the same time, we are continuing to test effective pedal modifications for existing vehicles on the road that will be available to our customers quickly. We expect to announce a comprehensive remedy program for all affected customers and new vehicles soon.”

What are you thankful for?

As we near Thanksgiving Day in the USA …

What are you most thankful for this year?

Family, friends, good health … yes, but also

… the cusp of possibility …

… the sense of having survived a deep and awful downturn …

… the thrill of a sunrise breaking through distant purple and orange clouds …

… smiles on other people's faces telling me, "It's going to be all right" …

… what else?

- Jon Harmon

Update 11-24: I posted the same question on some Linked In groups I belong to, as well as on Twitter. Here are some of the responses:

A talented staff … some terrific clients … and a new year's budget on the way! Jim Bianchi President, Bianchi Public Relations, Inc.

I couldn't have said it any better than you guys. Family, friends, health, keeping our heads above water, and of course, good clients. And all of the gifts of nature the good Lord has given us to remind us just how small we and our problems are in the grand scheme. That sunrise is a great reminder. I will resolve to enjoy a couple more next year than I did this year. Tim O'Brien Owner, O'Brien Communications

I love this! "the thrill of a sunrise breaking through distant purple and orange clouds"…one of my favorite things! The peaceful silence just before sleep – that comfortable sense of relaxation at the end of a good days work! Sheila McGirl Advertising Representative/Catholic Star Herald

That those close to me have rallied to keep my spirits up during this terrible economy and that I have remained optimistic that I soon will return to a rewarding position with a company or nonprofit……or maybe even win the lottery!!!! Mike Virgintino Communications Consultant

I'm thankful that my income is only down about 10 percent this year, and that I used some of that downtime wisely to start a blog and to undertake other efforts that offer long-term potential benefits. Beyond that, I'm grateful that family members and close friends are doing well. Richard Buse Independent Writing and Editing Professional

My new job at Pyramid Communications! Sarah Cohen Administrative Assistant at Pyramid Communication

I am grateful for my job in PR at Northern Quest Resort & Casino! Our new hotel is opening Jan 2010! Sooooo busy! www.northernquest.com if you want to see our progress! Jennifer Simmons Community Relations Coordinator at Northern Quest Casino

What am I grateful for this year? That there are agencies out there still striving to innovate. And succeeding by embracing technology and merging this with world-class creative content and business savvy. I'm overjoyed that I have been fortunate enough to interact with (humble, yet brilliant) shops that actually can & are solving business issues for their clients through the process described in the latter, even in the face of this drastic downturn. JC Fantechi Owner, Icebreaker

I'm glad I've been out of the business for a year. Nothing much has changed, Digital agencies claiming they can save the world with a proliferation of social media channels that do nothing for a brand except damage it. TV ads that are getting worse by the minute and the demise of data driven campaigns because brand managers can't be bothered to do the tricky data management part and so have resulted to e-mail which is now defunct!

On the positive side it's nice to see some premium brands return to what I call dialogue marketing which enhance the relationship with the most valuable customers thus empowering an extended sales force. Gary Brine Super Experienced Marketing and Branding Professional

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