Johnson & Johnson is dealing with its fourth drug recall in the past seven months.
That, no doubt, constitutes a major PR crisis for any company, even a behemoth with a great rep and loyal fan-base like J & J.
“The company’s corporate response from 30 years ago may not be seen as highly relevant to consumers now,” Lorna Bush, Vice President of Fineman PR, tells us.
Although Fortune reports that the stock hasn’t been hit too hard as of yet, the worst may still be coming. “We’ve seen buzz on parenting message boards that many loyal Johnson & Johnson consumers feel cheated from paying the higher brand name price over time,” only to find out that the cheaper generic would have been safer, Bush says.
And, Bush adds, the fact that the recall concerned kids’ medicines that are staples in every parent’s medicine drawer “means many families immediately replaced affected products with the FDA-recommended generic medications.”
J & J’s worst PR offence: not being consistently transparent about their issues.
“Johnson & Johnson is… being judged by a seemingly delayed response across the board over the last year, rather than the handling of this situation alone,” Bush says. Now, “it is uncertain whether the company’s word remains credible to consumers.“
The company is going to have to work very hard to earn back the trust they lost. And, going forward, it will face much more intense scrutiny from the media and the public.
So, what should J & J do?
“Rather than positioning this recall as an isolated incident, the company needs to thoroughly respond to building concerns that safety and quality issues have become systemic,” Bush advises. The company’s main challenge will be clearly communicating “that plant conditions are safer than ever and that any issues leading to this recall and others have been fully resolved… [and proving] that it is prioritizing consumer safety.”
The major lesson here is that transparency is crucial.
Being open about any issues that could affect your customers demonstrates that you’re taking responsibility and doing your best to fix the situation — sentiments that will help encourage a better response from the public.
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