By: Julie Price

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In 1982, seven people in the Chicago area died after taking Tylenol capsules laced with poison. It was headline news for weeks.

In response, Tylenol’s parent company, Johnson & Johnson, directed by its public relations team, immediately pulled more than 30 million bottles of Tylenol, stopped all production and cooperated fully with law enforcement. When the crisis had subsided, the company reintroduced Tylenol in then-new and highly innovative tamper-resistant bottles, along with $2.50-off coupons. The company is widely credited with leading the way in unsafe packaging reform.

This landmark case presents a perfect example of how to manage a PR crisis. Proof is in the fact that Tylenol exists today as one of our nation’s primary pain-relief products.

We may not be at the level of Johnson & Johnson, but let’s face it, in all of our lives and businesses, crises will occur. How we respond to crisis can be the difference between a tragic ending and a happy ending.

Over the years, our company has navigated our clients to good outcomes in the face of a wide variety of emergencies. Some common examples of PR crises are:

·         Public legal battles

·         Bad publicity surrounding a product or service

·         A public controversy involving an employee or associate

·         Criminal activity connected with a company or associate

·         The unexpected death of a prominent person

Each crisis is unique – connected only by the common element of surprise – and so is each resolution plan, but when any crisis occurs, the need to respond and communicate is immediate; the method of response is critical; and the existence of a crisis communication plan is vital.

If you don’t have one, you should create one or connect with a public relations firm that can help.

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