Home > Free Essays > Entertainment & Media > Advertising > Organizational Communication Case Study
Cite this

Organizational Communication Case Study Essay


The Tylenol crisis faced by the Johnson & Johnson Company is one that revealed a communication dilemma in the company. The problem caused by the presence of poisoned products in the market left the company with the only option of analyzing its communication strategy and having to streamline it to conform to friendly means of reaching out to the public.

The company had no initial relationship with the media and had to evaluate that aspect while mitigating its crisis. Open communication then become the strategy that the company used to give it an advantage in reception of information within the shortest time possible.

Communication failure is an expensive financial cost to a company. When it has to set up emergency strategy during a crisis, its financial issues get further aggravated than would be the case when it had a ready communication channel to respond to any crisis.

Statement of the issue under investigation

In this paper, the case study under investigation is regarding a communication problem at The Johnson & Johnson about its Tylenol Crisis. For the sake of this study, it is worth noting the importance of creating a good rapport with the external environment through well-formulated communication channels.

That can allow for prompt reception of information on the performance of an organization from the market and allow for the chance of formulation of corrective measures in good time before suffering any financial crisis.

Since communication is the flow of information between two components, Johnson & Johnson made a mistake for not presenting the possibility of receiving information from its markets (Brown, 2012a).

It led to a notable delay of getting information about the dangerous drugs circulating in the market to a point when the media was looking for information to discern the reasons of distributing dangerous Tylenol drugs.

Literature review of the issue under investigation

Organizational success depends solely on the effectiveness of communication. As Johnson (2007), asserted it is through the tone, timing and presentation of a message that Communication flow within a company extends to the public handling as it influences the financial performance of the company.

Information drives business and without communication, the business performances of the organization can face serious challenges that can easily be mitigated through enhanced communication that ensures that the financial positioning of the company stays well controlled through company leadership (Preziosi, 2009).

Through communication, an organization becomes capable of allowing free flow of information within and outside the company. It helps in building partnerships, which build intellectual resources for the promotion of ideas, services, products and organizations.

It is worth knowing that communication holds a mirage of knowledge relevant to both internal and external for the best performance of the company (Johnson, 2007).

Lack of connection with the external environment to the company led to the lack of information receivership that made its scandalous poisonous products in the market extend its crisis to an all time damage recorded. Depending on the leadership of a company, communication breakdown is responsible for company problems within its internal and external operations (Preziosi, 2009).

Just as effective communication enhances performance, poor communication in the slightest manner can cost a company an extensive financial damage just as Johnson & Johnson experienced. It, therefore, stays that good human relations allows for information flow for the good of a company.

The company culture must encourage free information flow into the company. The efforts of maintaining openness with customers and the media is the best strategy towards making it certain that issues get to the attention of the company before creation of any form of havoc (Johnson, 2007).

There may be instances when the community both internal and external feels that they have the right of communicating directly to company heads. Depending on the strategy chosen by the company, it is a fact that communication holds its success and is dependant of the effectiveness of the strategy used (Preziosi, 2009).

Description of context (information about the organization)

The Johnson & Johnson faced a serious financial crisis following the Tylenol Crisis. Apparently, the failure of the company in its communication strategies was a lack of a channel of receiving information from its customers.

It had no open communication channel locking out any possibilities of knowing that one of its most trusted brands was killing people and the dilemma shows how the company ignored the possibilities of expanding to electronic media and allowing ease of reach from its market (Brown, 2012b).

The reputation has until the time of the crisis positive in the media and public opinion. The company was successful in the United States in its provision of the over-the counter products with over a million users. The corporate profits from Tylenol alone were about 19 percent for Jonson & Johnsons.

It helped the company to maintain a reckonable sales positioning and growth of over 33 percent with a yearly profit growth. Tylenol held a great percentage in the painkiller category and had a market share of about 37 percent outselling it competing painkillers brands such as Anacin, Bayer, Excedrin and Bufferin (Brown, 2012b).

Presentation of data

The sealed bottles of Tylenol were tampered with and Tylenol capsules replaced with capsules laced with cyanide. The bottles were resealed and released to multiple shops across the country in Chicago. Consumers of the poisoned products died and the company was at task to explain the reason for presence of its products with poison circulating in the market.

Receiving the information from a reporter and realizing that a medical examiner claiming that Tylenol was killing people, the company chairperson James Burke was at task of communicating to the public (Brown, 2012a). Johnson & Johnson failed to protect the public from any harm that its products could cause.

They may have been keen in the provision of quality products but on being tampered with, their position got compromised and its closed communication system allowed no information channeling that could help the situation before any serious damages.

The company never sought any media coverage before the crisis and that meant that it had no relationship with the media and any effort was virgin. This would make it very hard for the company to receive immediate support with the media (Dilenschneider, 2007).

However, the first reaction of the company was setting up a response strategy for the crisis. It firstly initiated an effort for protecting the people through withdrawal of its entire Tylenol product from the shelves. This was through the media urging people not to consume any of the products for them to determine the cause of the tampering.

The national withdrawal helped in presenting a face for not wanting any risk with the safety of the public. This step would cost it financial distress but the first intention was to recover the damage the product could cause.

Analysis of data

Had the company been open in its communication strategies, there are high possibilities that before any media house received information about the lethal drugs, the company management could be way ahead of formulating a response strategy (Dilenschneider, 2007).

This would have given the public relations manager a comment to give to the Chicago media reporter who called. However, the reporter gave information to the company regarding the presence of its poisonous product in the market.

That left the company in a vulnerable state as a number of media houses kept gathering information about the deaths caused by the product and published damaging information about the company.

That communication breakdown allowed for a fast spread of negative information in the media and the sub sequential loss of trust in the company.

Being that the company had no active media presence, gaining support on the situation would not be very easy. It was easy for the media to concentrate on negative information with most media outlets dwelling on the death without any focus on the cause of the mishap of the product. However, as its strategy was for the setting up of a press releases and free messages from the management, it was going to spend a huge amount of money to reach its audiences.

Setting up an emergency alert is tough as compared to a situation when there is time for negotiation. However, since communicating the position of the company was more important despite the financial challenges, the company had to take up the options of setting up a toll-free line for customers to reach the company. It also set up free messages to circulate to members of the public offering information relevant to the situation.

The company had never realized the important of disseminating information to the public and learnt it the hard way having to set up a couple of costly ventures to save its reputation and positioning in the market. This was an expensive venture for the company coupled with the numerous press conferences the company held and reportedly setting up an internal develop live television feed through the satellite.

Sending live media information to the New York metro means the company had a capacity for ensuring a flow of information within its company and to the public.

This was done through the efforts of the staff members who helped in carrying out the laid response strategy and is evidence to a healthy internal communication within the company. The company management held a good rapport with its staffs and that allowed its staffs to respond immediately at any calls for tackling of a crisis such as the Tylenol crisis.

Proposed solutions

For an improvement of communication with the market, one great avenue for a company to venture into is the media (Dilenschneider, 2007). It is very necessary for being media friendly so that when a crisis comes up, it is easy to gather media support in faster relaying of information to the public.

Further, it becomes easy for the company to bargain its communication offer through the media such that during a crisis it does not incur so much financial expenses for a single venture such as the Tylenol crisis. Electronic media, therefore, becomes a key outlet of information and companies can use that to help in the setting up of emergency channels for reception of information into the company.

In this era of social media, taking advantage of that provision can help a company in receiving instant information regarding its performance in the market. That can help in immediate mitigation of situations as they come and avoidance of the possibility of negative media exposure (Preziosi, 2009).

It is also possible to use the social media in interacting with the public and passing reassuring information during such crisis periods. It is upon the company to remain candid on its communication strategy and make it public to the internal and external stakeholders for ease of passing of information into and out of the company.


Brown, D. (2012a). James E. burke feb. 28, 1925 – sept. 28, 2012 johnson & johnson ceo during tylenol crisis. Pittsburgh Post – Gazette. Web.

Brown, D. (2012b). Led J&J during tylenol crisis. The Washington Post. Web.

Dilenschneider, R. (2007). 25 years after tylenol: What have we learned? Directorship, 33(6), 42-42. Web.

Johnson, M. G. (2007). Crisis communication: Time, tone and communication, a relationship of variables. University of Nebraska at Omaha). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 70-n/a. Web.

Preziosi, R. C. (2009). The leadership road: Positive actions that drive results. Tamarac, FL: Llumina.

This essay on Organizational Communication Case Study was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

301 certified writers online

Cite This paper

Select a website referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2020, January 14). Organizational Communication Case Study. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/organizational-communication-case-study-essay/

Work Cited

"Organizational Communication Case Study." IvyPanda, 14 Jan. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/organizational-communication-case-study-essay/.

1. IvyPanda. "Organizational Communication Case Study." January 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/organizational-communication-case-study-essay/.


IvyPanda. "Organizational Communication Case Study." January 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/organizational-communication-case-study-essay/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Organizational Communication Case Study." January 14, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/organizational-communication-case-study-essay/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Organizational Communication Case Study'. 14 January.

Related papers