Johnson & Johnson handled the cyanide crisis masterfully and the Washington Post said, "Johnson & Johnson has effectively demonstrated how a major business ought to handle a disaster." Much can be learned from the Tylenol crisis on how to manage a crisis and restore customer confidence after a corporate disaster. Johnson & Johnson acted quickly to indentify a crisis management team, took steps to prevent a future crisis, won sympathy from the public, and offered reparation. Here are the 5 steps Johnson & Johnson took to successfully manage the Tylenol cyanide crisis.
1. Crisis Management Team - In any crisis situation, a small team of senior executives, including the organization's legal counsel and public relations executives needs to be immediately formed to steer the actions and communications for the company.
One of the first actions Johnson & Johnson's CEO, John Burke, took was to form a 7-member strategy team. John had the team focus on two things: 1) How do we protect customers? and 2) How do we save this product?" The strategy team took swift action and Johnson & Johnson's first step was to alert the public not to consume any Tylenol product until the extent of the tampering could be determined. The company pulled all Tylenol capsules from Chicago stores immediately and then pulled all Tylenol capsules nationally. The decision to withdraw Tylenol capsules from all shelves in the United States showed that Johnson & Johnson was willing to bear the short terms costs in the name of consumer safety. This move played a key role in restoring consumer confidence in Tylenol.
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