Effective Communication Case Study

Essay by 1stladyUniversity, Bachelor'sA, September 2009

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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...