Can Herbie ever ride again or is VW on the road to nowhere?


By Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

The dust has begun to settle on the biggest scandal in the history of the car industry, although its ramifications will last for years.

Volkswagen’s reputation is in tatters, its share price has driven off a cliff, former chief executive Martin Winterkorn is facing possible prosecution in Germany and the future of diesel-powered vehicles worldwide is now under the microscope.

The German car giant admitted cheating emissions tests in the USA during a major drive to sell ‘low emissions’ diesel cars.  It confirmed around 11 million cars across the globe had in fact been fitted with a ‘defeat device’ designed to manipulate test results.

When the story got out VW bosses quickly realised they were behind the wheel of a wreck on the road to nowhere.

They admitted the firm had ‘broken the trust of our customers and the public’, which was the right thing to say, and sort of blamed a handful of rogue engineers, which wasn’t.

Blaming employees is absolutely not best practice – companies must accept collective responsibility, whatever the consequences.

It has left consumers – that’s you or me, possibly with a Veedub sitting in the garage – wondering if we can believe the environmental credentials of any car manufacturers.

Such is the climate of doubt created by major corporate scandals like this that it leaves us less trusting in general.

And what if you were a small business owner with a dark secret – something so serious that it would threaten the existence of your company should it get out?

Naturally it would be on a smaller scale than VW’s, but do you have a plan of action for when this damaging secret becomes public knowledge? And why do you even have a secret in the first place?

If the corporate might of VW can’t keep a scandal quiet what chance would you have?

Your absolute best chance is to be totally ethical and not harbour anything that might compromise you one day. And if it’s too late for that, then start to put things right as soon as you possibly can.

My advice, should anyone ask me, would be to keep your business clean and wholesome and grow it organically. Resist the temptation to make a fast buck, and look after your customers well.

Above all create a prevailing ethical climate within your business that would render anything remotely fraudulent or dishonest as utterly impossible.

And what if something terrible does happen? Do you have a communications team ready to step in at a moment’s notice to handle media relations?

Appointing experts in their field is a basic requirement to ensure your company is presented honestly, ethically and in the best possible light.

Your reputation is at stake and, like VW’s, can be trashed in a moment. Make sure you have the tools, and by that I mean a good media relations company, to protect your good name.