The best thing you can do to defuse a public relations crisis is to: publicly accept responsibility, admit the mistake and outline what steps you are going to take to rectify the situation, Jeff Ansell says.
The former Winnipeg Free Press reporter and current media advisor to a number of major North American corporations and governments was the keynote speaker at the Manitoba Motor Dealers Association’s (MMDA) Sales Certification Program graduation breakfast on Nov. 24, at the Hilton Airport Suites Winnipeg.
This year, a record 250-plus sales reps and business office personnel, representing more than 40 different dealerships from throughout the province, earned sales certification diplomas.
The MMDA launched its groundbreaking Sales Certification Program in 1995 in order to improve the expertise, professionalism and image of sales representatives in the automobile industry in Manitoba. The program has been available online and is a comprehensive training program for automobile sales personnel and managers — designed to ensure the highest standard of knowledge and professionalism in the automotive industry. Additionally, a professional code of conduct adhered to by the certified sales representative assures the automotive consumer and the general public the representative is committed to providing customer-focused service.
The program has been available online for more than 10 years. The online availability means participating sales reps no longer have to take time out from their dealerships to attend the workshops. Having the program online also makes it easier to update the program.
The morning event began with opening remarks from MMDA president Brian Lowes (who is president of Mercedes-Benz Winnipeg) and Marni Patrick representing Manitoba Public Insurance.
In Ansell’s remarks, he presented several examples of how to react and what not to do when confronted with a PR nightmare.
“In general,” Ansell said, “consumers are prepared to forgive a screw-up. What they won’t forgive are attempts at obfuscation. When your company’s integrity is in jeopardy, you have to show your customers the positive values underlying your company. People don’t care how much you know. They want to know what you stand for.”
The other highlight was the presentation of the Gerald Rewucki Scholarship to nursing student Zachary Rawluk, the son of Birchwood Auto Group executive Mike Rawluk. Gerald Rewucki, former president of the formerly-family-owned Eastern Chrysler (now part of the Auto Canada group of dealerships), and one of the founders of the Sales Certification Program, died tragically in an auto accident a number of years ago.
Presenting the scholarship this year were Rewucki’s sister, Marietta (a past MMDA president) and his son, Derek Rewucki, who works in the parts department at Selkirk Chevrolet GMC. Derek is the fourth generation in his family in the auto industry.
Vickar Group donates for breast cancer research
On Nov. 23 the Vickar Auto Group presented a cheque for $16,100 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
“This year, we dedicated a portion of the proceeds from every new and used car we sold at our dealerships (Vickar Chevrolet, Vickar Nissan, Vickar Mitsubishi and Waverley Mitsubishi) throughout the month of October to breast cancer research,” said Vickar Auto Group marketing manager Steve Lipischak.
“This was the largest donation we have ever received from the Vickar Group,” says Donna-Lynn Gualgliardo, the co-ordinator of the foundation’s annual Run for the Cure.