In 1982, seven residents of Chicago’s West Side died mysteriously and were alerted to the authorities. After a few tests and an investigation, it turns out that McNeil Consumer Products, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson had taken Extra Strength Tylenol with cyanide.
Speculators said Tylenol would never sell again, but a miracle work of public relations was there to rescue the brand and its products. Putting customer safety first, Johnson & Johnson immediately took Tylenol off the market, regardless of the cost, to ensure that this incident would not happen again. By alerting citizens via media about what had happened, the company was able to build a closer relationship with the Chicago Police Department and the FDA. As a result, today we have sealed containers and other preventative materials to stop foreign substances from contaminating medicines and other products.
Wow! What a way to handle PR! Oftentimes we see companies try to make the effort in ensuring quality products, but I think Johnson & Johnson hit the nail on the head with this accident. Public relations is all about how you can help others view your company, and regardless of what happens, there is always a way to mend goodwill. By taking the time to actually stop the problem altogether, without thinking about cost is what really matters in this situation. Really, it takes a thoughtful approach to bring everyone back to feeling comfortable with you. Looking at the channels the word spreads through is a great way to handle PR. It’s more personal and helps everyone connect with restoration.
Can you think of any other crisis and how they’ve been handled?
Another company that has struggled with their image shown to the public is Taco Bell. To some it doesn’t matter the quality of meat they use, but to others it does matter. One thing that hasn’t helped is the continuous string of scandals they seem to have regarding the quality of their products. Here’s a quick video with the response from Greg Creed, President of Taco Bell, as to the latest scare in taco world: