Public relations are an integral part of many organizations' marketing strategy. Public relations may involve some advertising--when companies pay to put forth a particular message--but more commonly, public relations are also press relations. Companies and organizations often seek to involve the news media through press releases and press conferences and generate stories in the press regarding the organization's products and services. When the organization controls the message being put forth, it is public relations. Uncontrolled messages can be disastrous for companies--such as when Enron was put in the spotlight for nontraditional record keeping. This research considers three examples of successful public relations, each progressing farther back in public relations history, and examines how and why those campaigns were effective.
In 1982, seven people in and around Chicago died after ingesting Tylenol laced with cyanide capsules. Johnson & Johnson, which manufactures Tylenol, responded immediately by warning the public not to consume any Tylenol products and recalled more than 31 million bottles worth more than $100 million. The company compensated consumers by offering free replacements of capsules with caplets, and with coupons for future purchases. The deaths were determined to have been the result of tampering at the retail level, although no one was ever charged with the crime. The company also introduced tamperresistant packaging (Roberts, 2002).
Within a few months, Tylenol had regained its market share of 39 percent, although its sales initially dropped dramatically. Several factors contributed to the product's success. Certainly it was helpful that the sabotage occurred at the retail level and was not within the manufacturing process itself. However, Johnson & Johnson's swift action and willingness to take a short-term financial loss while demonstrating a very public concer