Is Marketing Now in Charge of Customer Relations?

Julie Hamp, Communications Chief Toyota
Julie Hamp, Communications Chief Toyota

Julie Hamp’s appointment as communications chief for Toyota Motors Sales, USA, Inc. may halt or hasten the dismantling of what at one time was rated the most potent PR force among the automakers. Retirement, resignation and severances have removed four seasoned veterans from the Toyota field force and three of its PR field offices have been shuttered. Calls to them are either greeted with “out of service’ or referred to Toyota’s U.S., headquarters in Torrance, Calif. With Hamp’s arrival the company may be following the perceived communications curve reported by the Center for Media Research that puts the marketing departments of most U.S. companies in charge of customer communications and fashionably assigning more marketing monies these days to multiple new channels at the expense of auto journalism – until the recalls begin.

Yet, Mark Walsh reports in Online Media Daily, a new study reveals “nearly two-thirds (64%) of people say they “hate” when a company targets them through their social networking profile, and 58% agree that social media marketing is invasive.” Walsh concludes from findings of the study conducted by Insight Strategy Group, “In short, people like being able to provide feedback to marketers via social media — but they don’t necessarily want to be followed by them.”

In another study reported in The Social Graf by Erik Sass it was revealed that the more time college students spent on Facebook, the more likely they were to have low self esteem. Published in an academic journal called Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking the study is titled “‘They Are Happier and Having Better Lives than I Am’: The Impact of Using Facebook on Perceptions of Others’ Lives.” It is based on a survey of roughly 425 college students asking them about their own lives and the lives of friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Also, the time they spent and frequency of using Facebook. Sass notes other studies have shown a correlation between social media use and mental health issues but not, necessarily, a causal relationship. However, Facebook’s IPO flop may have put some investors in a funk.

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