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Managing Disaster: Best Public Relations Practices, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 383

Essay

Johnson and Johnson – the Tylenol Scare

The problem: In 1982, seven people in Chicago died after taking Tylenol capsules that were later found to contain excessive amounts of cyanide.  Tylenol manufacturer Johnson & Johnson found itself in a potentially catastrophic situation.  The loss of life threatened to undermine the company’s corporate image, which could have had a disastrous impact on sales.

Response: Johnson and Johnson responded to the crisis in two stages: the logistical handling of the crisis and a “comeback” phase (Knight, 1982).  Company executive put consumer safety above every concern and immediately alerted the public to the danger, then recalled about 31 million bottles of Tylenol nationwide, equating to 100 million dollars in sales.  Phase two included a multi-tactic plan that included a new triple-seal protection package, discount coupons and widespread presentations to physicians.  Result: Johnson and Johnson maintained a constant flow of honest information.  The company was spectacularly successful at convincing the public that it had their best interest in mind.

Pepsi Co. – the Syringe Crisis

The problem: In 1993, syringes were reported to have been found in cans of Pepsi.  When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised the public to empty cans of Pepsi into cups before drinking, the company was faced with a public relations crisis that spoke directly to customer vulnerability and fears.

Response: A four-stage public relations response was developed to maintain communication with the public, reassure consumers as to product integrity and avoid a catastrophic drop in revenue.  Pepsi communicated new facts to the FDA and the public at large as they became available.  On-site interviews were held and camera crews were invited to film workers on the canning line.  Pepsi’s CEO made appearances on every major television network to reassure the public as to the company’s intentions and discuss steps being taken.

Result: Pepsi’s public relations response helped the company return to normal sales levels within two months of the crisis. The company’s response gave consumers a rare look inside the production process, which helped to allay fears of further sabotage.  Pepsi’s public relations response opened a critically important channel of honest and timely communication to customers and the general public.

References

Hendrix, Jerry A.  Public Relations Cases.  2001, Wadsworth.  Belmont, CA. Pages: 67-75.

Knight, Jerry. “Tylenol’s Maker Shows How to Respond to Crisis.” The Washington Post. October 11, 1982

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