Crisis communications support for Nissan Spain Plant General Manager

In October 2008, Nissan Europe asked Media in English to lend assistance in preparation for announcing the rightsizing of its Nissan plant in Barcelona, Spain.

Adding to the complexity of messaging to the government, trade unions, employees and the Spanish press, was the fact that the new plant manager had just arrived from Japan, two weeks prior to the announcement.  He had never met or spoken to Spanish journalists.  After prior announcements of layoffs at other Spanish auto plants, the press suspected the manager to be the “axe man” from Japan.  Because of his fluency not only in Japanese, but English and Spanish as well, it was decided to have the general manager make the announcement and answer journalist’s questions in Spanish.

The Media in English team, along with the Spanish heads of public relations, human resources and sales and marketing worked with the general manager in English and Spanish, to make sure that the message was delivered with human care and consideration for the employees.

The press conference and announcement was very well received by the media.  Over the days following the announcement, Nissan was pleased to see that the press reports in newspapers, on television and the internet were mainly neutral.