By Fabio Giangolini
The public relations function is often overlooked by Maltese companies, which regard it as the exercise of disseminating the odd press release to the media. In reality, at the core of any corporate public relations strategy, lies the necessity for an organisation to clearly communicate its values, mission and vision to the public. The marketing and PR department has therefore the delicate role of making corporate identity and public image coincide.
The rigorous following of company values and the application of solid public relations practices have also often helped organisations to successfully navigate through testing times. CEOs and high-level executives are aware that, with proper crisis management procedures, a company can turn threats into opportunities and come out reinforced.
The Tylenol sabotage
One of the most emblematic case studies in the history of crisis communications, which demonstrates the importance of adopting an open and transparent approach when interacting with the media and the public, is the sabotage of Tylenol, an analgesic produced by Johnson & Johnson. In September 1982, in Chicago, seven people died following the ingestion of Tylenol capsules containing cyanide. The company’s factories were searched to determine whether the contamination had originated from its production lines. Once the police determined that the incidents were the result of a sabotage orchestrated by an individual directly at the points of sale, Johnson & Johnson activated a crisis communication cell to generate awareness about the sabotage. A free phone number was made available to the customers, all media campaigns were halted, and dedicated TV spots were created to alert the public about the presence of the sabotaged Tylenol capsules. The company’s spokesperson was actively involved in this communication effort, with frequent appearances on the national media. Ultimately, the capsules were replaced by tablets, which were impossible to tamper with. The change of format, albeit financially expensive, demonstrated to the public that the company genuinely believed in its corporate credo of caring for its clients.
Join in our webinar
Crisis communication is only one aspect of corporate public relations. On Friday 2nd of July, we will hold a webinar called “Corporate public relations”, which will provide a complete overview of the PR function in an organization and will delve into aspects such as writing and disseminating press releases, organizing press conferences and dealing with requests from the media. Check out the webinar’s page for more information about the course and registration https://www.grantthornton.com.mt/advance/corporate-pr/