Effective Communication Strategy
In the summer of 1993, the makers of Pepsi and Diet Pepsi found themselves in a public relations nightmare. A local Tacoma, Washington couple claimed a hypodermic needle was found in a Diet Pepsi can. Numerous accusations in multiple cities were reported across the country and Pepsi's alleged product tampering was front page news for seven brutal days.
Immediately PepsiCo Corporation took on an offensive strategic campaign in order to combat the negative backlash from the syringe incident. Time was of the essence during the crisis. The reports of the alleged product tampering appeared in news reports on June 9, the same day Pepsi's local bottling corporation; Alpac along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and local health officials began an investigation into the claim. "The plant was opened to the media and the plant owner, manager, and quality assurance manager were made available to the press" (Center & Jackson, 2003, p.
328). The three major factors in Pepsi's effective communication strategy was that the company took an offensive approach, the company dealt strictly with the facts and evidence and maintained open lines of communication with its publics.
The PepsiCo Corporation faced the problem head-on and maintained open communication with the media, consumers and FDA. Pepsi's response team had round the clock employees that were available to address the barrage of questions and concerns from the media and the consumers. During this crisis the importance of fact-based answers to questions was a vital key to effective communication. The response teams gave information that was supported by evidence, all the while polling Pepsi's public image as the crisis unfolded, joining two essential techniques; damage control and risk assessment.
Pepsi's public relations campaign was focused toward the corporation's internal public as well as external public. The...