Thursday, March 13, 2008

Crisis Headache

I was reminded of one of my favorite case studies in public relations the other day as I was browsing the PR blogosphere. For anyone who studied marketing, PR, or communications, the 1982 Tylenol scare was likely somewhere in the curriculum.

As Neville Hobson points out, Johnson and Johnson, the makers of Tylenol, engaged in "corporate social responsibility long before the term became fashionable."

If you've ever wondered why there's a piece of cotton at the top of most pill bottles, then brush up on the case here.

The crisis had all the makings of a communications disaster (or an A&E movie) : a police investigation, unsolved murders, a large corporate organization, and a massive product recall. For me, the takeaway is that, with the right processes in place, large corporations can act swiftly and transparently for the greater good.

I wonder how today's social media tools would have altered the response? Would Tylenol have posted a Youtube response like the JetBlue CEO as passengaers languished on the tarmac? Would they have worked with bloggers covering the crisis?

How could you use Twitter in a case like this...? Lots of questions, I'm not quite sure, how, exactly, to marry a 1982 event and web 2.0....

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