Effective Communication Case Study

1171 words - 5 pages

In October of 1982, Johnson and Johnson’s suffered one of the worst corporate crisis in modern history when some unknown person or persons laced Tylenol Extra-Strength capsules with cyanide. The cyanide-laced capsules killed seven unsuspecting people in the Chicago area. The news media quickly reported that people were dying from poisoned Tylenol (Berge, 1990). Without delay Johnson and Johnson chairman, James Burke formed a strategy team to handle the crisis. The two objectives Burke gave the team were first, "How do we protect the people?" and second "How do we save this product?" (Broom, 1994)Johnson and Johnson’s initial response was to tell consumers through media outlets not to use any Tylenol products. Next they stopped production and advertising of Tylenol and began a nationwide recall of all Tylenol even know evidence showed the tampering was isolated to the Chicago area. This action effectively communicated the company’s willingness to put consumer safety ahead of corporate profits. In addition to the consumer public, Johnson and Johnson successfully communicated with the associated external and internal publics during the crisis by using the various PR Tools describe later in this paper.News media, customers, retailers, police, and the FDA were the main external publics involved in the Tylenol crisis. While employees, management, and McNeil Consumer Products Company were significant internal publics in the case. The early PR campaign focused on communication with external publics especially the consumer public. Johnson and Johnson wanted the external publics to know that it was doing everything in its power to help the police and FDA with the investigation as well as protecting the consumers and keeping them informed of the situation.The primary internal public associated with the crisis was McNeil Consumer Products Company, the Johnson and Johnson subsidiary that produced Tylenol. By assuming responsibility for its subsidiary Johnson and Johnson effectively displayed corporate integrity. The company showed a united front willing to take any action necessary that would benefit the long-term relationship with its internal publics. This was accomplished with specific PR tools for each internal public; for example, a booklet was made for employees who explained the crisis in detail and what their company was doing to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again.The communications between its publics created a positive result for Johnson and Johnson. Before the incident Tylenol had 35% of market share, although sales plummeted to only 8% of market share shortly after the deaths were publicized Tylenol eventually regained and later exceeded its original market share through effective communication. Johnson and Johnson also went on to win numerous awards including the “American Corporate Conscience Award” for its social responsibility and integrity. The case is still considered today as one of the best examples...

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