"Public Relations is the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the public on whom its success or failure depends."(Broom, Center and Cutlip, 1994).The effectiveness of communication between the McNeil Consumer Products, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, and the intended public that was composed of the affected population and the already alarmed consumer group was manifested in the fast and efficient response to acknowledge responsibility for the poisoning of seven people in Chicago. According to Kaplan (1998), “Johnson and Johnson's handling of the Tylenol tampering crisis is considered by public relations experts to be one of the best in the history of public relations”. This is because of strategic and careful planning that was executed to reach the customer population that was already in panic and considered Tylenol capsules as poison. By taking the full responsibility in alerting its customers not consume Tylenol capsules until the extent of damage was determined, Johnson and Johnson’s was taking an information to the public that it in deed it cared for their safety . This is one of the most effective public communication tools to the public that Johnson and Johnson’s was able to fully exploit to their advantage. In addition, the strategic approach to reach the public was executed in two phases. The first phase involved putting the safety of customer above the interests of the company and the second phase involved reaching out to the customers through the media. "What Johnson & Johnson’s executives have done is communicate the message that the company is candid, contrite, and compassionate, committed to solving the murders and protecting the public” (Kaplan, 1998)Tylenol capsules case study analysis reveals a combination of both internal and external public that includes the demoralized employee and the scared customer respectively. Johnson and Johnson’s public relations response took into consideration the interests of both parties. This became the effective weapon in demonstrating that it in deed understood the extent of the damage caused and was ready to involve all affected parties in the search for a solution. “Johnson & Johnson has effectively demonstrated how a major business ought to handle a disaster in underlining the fact that this was no Three Mile Island accident in which the company's response did more damage than the original incident”(Rick, 1982). This depicts that, to come out of the crisis, Johnson & Johnson’s had to appreciate the role of the two publics in achieving its objectives.
Effective communication remains the best weapon in wining the views of the public. In this regard, the company was able to convince the two publics that the Tylenol incident was in fact an accident that could befall any existing company all over the country and was not due to negligence on its part. The impact of effective communication to the intended public had to be positive and as such this company strategically employed the use of best communication techniques. Broom, Center, Cutlip (1994) illustrates that;
This was unusual for a large corporation facing a crisis. In many other similar cases, companies had put themselves first, and ended up doing more damage to their reputations than if they had immediately taken responsibility for the crisis. An example of this was the crisis that hit Source Perrier when traces of benzene were found in their bottled water. Instead of holding themselves accountable for the incident, Source Perrier claimed that the contamination resulted from an isolated incident. They then recalled only a limited number of Perrier bottles in North America. The approach taken by Johnson & Johnson’s to address this crisis remains one the best. I believe this company handled this crisis by employing the best communication techniques to both internal and external public. This is depicted in the socially responsible actions that it took in communicating the message thus restoring the confidence of the customer and the public in it as company and later in its products that includes Tylenol capsules. This crisis was handled in the best way and as such there was no better techniques to employ that would match the ones put in place to handle this crisis. The first public relation communication tool and technique that was used to inform influence, and motivate the public(s) in the case is the Community Audience Segments that made use of the media to effectively relay the information on this case. In specific terms, Johnson & Johnson’s made use of the Local media (print, electronic, broadcast) to relay the information to the public.Foster (1983) demonstrates the use of this tool by Johnson & Johnson's in stating that;The first important decision, that put Johnson & Johnson's public relations program in the right direction, was made immediately by the public relations department with complete support from the management. This decision was for the company to cooperate fully with all types of news media. It was crucially important because the press, radio, and television were imperative to warning the public of the ensuing danger. Without the help of the media, Johnson and Johnson's program would have been completely ineffective. The second public relation communication tool and technique that was used to inform influence, and motivate the public(s) in the case was the application of Steps to a successful campaign that took in the role of sound leadership and strong communication activities. These were able to significantly influence and persuade the public to view along the company’s perspective. The decision to bring back Tylenol at a discounted price is clear manifestation of sound lairdships and strategic marketing tool that was aimed at winning the customer and thus gaining the lost market share. The benefits of the application of these public relation communication tool and technique are that they have always shown positive results in turning around difficult management issues. In addition to this, they are easy and simple to implement and thus do not demand a lot from the company. The risks of employing these communication tools is that in instances where they are not strategically used, it is completely impossible to come with other effective communication tools and techniques in that such attempts would be viewed as desperate efforts to change the status of events. In conclusion, Johnson & Johnson was able to turn around the course of events to it favor by the application of effective communication tools and public relations interventions. Tylenol capsules and related products from the company are consumed today in the market just like any other product.