The Tylenol Crisis: Exemplary Public Relations Case

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The Tylenol Crisis of 1982 Situation: The Tylenol crisis: Seven people died after taking Tylenol capsules laced with cyanide. This happened in 1982, but is highly regarded as an exemplary public relations case. How did Johnson & Johnson handle this crisis that made them such a lauded example of effective crisis communication? Problem/ Opportunity Statement: The Tylenol company was the leading pain-killer medicine distributor in the United States. They controlled thirty-seven percent of the market and had a revenue of 1.2 billion. But in October of 1982 they face their biggest crisis after seven people in Chicago were reported dead after taking extra-strength Tylenol capsules laced with cyanide. It was reported that an unknown suspect(s)…show more content…
The company needed to effectively address all of their publics, and use effective public relations tools and techniques to keep their publics informed about what steps they were taking and what the company had found. Since the crisis occurred in 1982, there would have been different tools and techniques used from what we would use today to help supply a stable stream of information to the different publics, and make sure that an effective public relations campaign was conducted. Johnson & Johnson’s corporate personnel reacted to the negative media coverage by forming a seven-member strategy team., to tackle the dilemma. They needed to find the best way to deal with the tampering of the products, without destroying the reputation of their company and the Tylenol product, the team needed to answer "How do we protect the people?" and second "How do we save this product?" (Mitchell,…show more content…
Johnson & Johnson’s effective communication between them and their publics kept the criticism following the crisis against Tylenol to a minimum, and kept everyone involved informed on what was going on both inside and out of the company to insure that there would not be a repeat. The company’s leadership successfully took control of the situation from the beginning by making public safety the number one concern of the company. However, even though Johnson & Johnson 's leadership did excellently during the crisis there were areas Tylenol improved upon after the crisis, that would have made things easier in the beginning. Johnson & Johnson did not have a proactive public affairs program before the crisis, the company’s only media relations was in the advertising and marketing area. Johnson & Johnson 's failure to establish a positive relationship with the media forced the company to respond to the crisis in an advertising-like manner, that resulted in the company receiving criticism from the media for not being genuine due to the slick sales-like response ads that where run during the crisis. The company did manage to get passed that problem due to personal messages with the media from the CEO. Due to the success of the campaign the company was able to reestablish the Tylenol brand name as one to the most trusted over-the-counter consumer

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