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Though the exact nature of an individual crisis may not be divined beforehand, the general lines such crises may take are evident and can be planned for. Demonstrate by word and deed remorse, concern and compassion for your customers’ health and well-being.Cooperate fully with all health and government authorities.He told us that the medical examiner there had just given a press conference - people were dying from poisoned Tylenol. As it was the first knowledge we had here in this department, we told him we knew nothing about it.
Parallel to these damage control efforts a crisis management team at the production subsidiary sprung into action and began drafting a longer-term strategic rehabilitation plan for “the days after.” Company spokespersons communicated with the workers to explain to them exactly what had taken place and assure them of the company’s faith in their professionalism and dedication.
These employees, in turn, served as sources of information for their immediate family, their neighbors and the medical community. The crisis management team in the Tylenol Crisis immediately studied the lessons learned and drafted a longer-term rehabilitation plan.
The launch was featured at a press conference and fully supported by a pro-active media and PR plan directed at all stakeholders, workers, the public and the medical community. The company’s good name was not only preserved but sales increased.
Tylenol remains today a household word, and the company’s safety measures became the standard for the drug industry.
Though there were those who questioned whether the Tylenol brand name should be used in future pain-relief products, Burke judged that the brand equity was sufficiently strong to overcome this setback.
Within a month the company producers devised a unique, foolproof non-tamper bottle for which it alone held the patent, and redistributed Tylenol “caplets” in this new package at a discount.
What lessons can the Tylenol crisis teach the companies involved?
Crisis planning should take place before a crisis erupts.
and CBS’ opening line was "When 12 year-old Mary Kellerman of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, awoke at dawn with cold symptoms; her parents gave her one Extra-Strength Tylenol and sent her back to bed. to find their daughter dying on the bathroom floor".
The print media weighed in with equally damaging headlines: Time Magazine: Poison Madness in the Midwest; The Washington Post: Tylenol: Killer or Cure’.