Internal changes must accompany crisis communications

Another week, another crisis. This time, it's Johnson & Johnson's McNeil division, which is now facing possible criminal penalties for the lapses in the manufacturing process that led to recalls of children's medicines last month.

Another week, another crisis. This time, it's Johnson & Johnson's McNeil division, which is now facing possible criminal penalties for the lapses in the manufacturing process that led to recalls of children's medicines last month.

Since news of the latest recall broke, there have been constant questions about the effect of these events on J&J's previously stellar reputation.

Much of the media attention is on the manufacturing mistakes that led to too much active ingredient in the children's versions of Tylenol, Motrin, and Benedryl. But of more concern has been that the company waited too long to adequately respond to consumer complaints and finally issue a recall—a communications misstep for sure.

J&J is constantly praised for its handling of the original Tylenol crisis more than 25 years ago. But, in that instance, the company was dealing with an outside problem—an unknown person or persons that had tampered with its product. This latest incident is purely internal and one that needs to be fully addressed and corrected before the proper communications steps can be taken.

Since the latest recall, J&J has been transparent with the media and consumers, using its corporate blog to share comments from its CEO Bill Weldon as well as the head of its consumer group. These are all the right steps to take from a communications standpoint. But it is only after steps have been taken internally to fix the problem that reputation issues can be properly addressed.

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