Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Crisis management through social media

Share This Post

Last Friday night, Johnson & Johnson made a massive recall of a number of children’s and infant’s Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl and Zyrtec products. The release was issued at 9 pm, presumably when mass media could or would not cover it. It wasn’t really breaking news, so interrupting programming wasn’t an option. 9 pm made it a little too late to work it into late night news packages, not to mention the smaller audiences garnered by late Friday news programs. Nonetheless, it wasn’t a topic that could be swept under the rug given the millions of parents who utilize these products.
Twenty years ago, the public would have heard about this story the next day on the morning, noon or evening news…or perhaps in the newspaper. Not today. The blogosphere, Twitterverse and Facebook-galaxy lit up right away, bringing notoriety to J&J’s approach immediately.
Parents immediately started dialing the 1-800 number, only to hear a recorded message of a person reading the exact press release that had been issued. I personally visited J&J’s website to try to find the serial numbers of the recalled products and found the list buried 5 clicks in through a series of links at the bottom of several pages or deep within paragraphs and paragraphs of industry jargon. Most online users wouldn’t be so persistent.
Adage’s article on this topic cites J&J as the most reputable company in the United States. So, why can’t such a company get this social media thing right? You’d think the most reputable company would have a team in place to respond to the social media pandemonium that ensued this past weekend.
What makes it even more remarkable is that J&J is behind one of the best social sites I have found for parents – The site is amazing – it tracks along with pregnancy and the consequent age of your child to give you timely information as your little one develops. The site knows, for example, that my child is 23 months old and gives me information specific to this stage of development.  And, it’s not just the basic stuff – they undoubtedy have educated mommies and daddies writing for them, not just child psychologists.
J&J clearly gets it, based on this robust site…so, why the misstep with a recall like this? Especially since 2009 was the year of the Mom with regard to social media. Mashable identified hundreds of Twitter streams, active Facebook fan pages, blogs and niche social sites, for moms that were huge traffic drivers last year. Seems like an active social media communications department could tap into this network to spread the word in a transparent, positive way, rather than through a firestorm of inquisitive and highly vocal online parents.
But, the real lesson here is the immaterial nature of time, a recent evolution in our society. It didn’t matter that J&J released their information at 9 pm on Friday night – we still got it. Even more, we reacted. The two-way communication of social media has made the consumer, rather than the marketer, the messaging engine. And this messaging happens with little to no regard for time of day.

More To Explore

Current360 2024 Predictions crystal ball

2024 Predictions

Thanks to everyone who responded to our 2024 Predictions survey last month. While the sample size wasn’t quite the size of a Pew or Nielsen,

Tradition and digital media crown become digital

The King is dead.
Long Live the King.

No we’re not talking about Charles VII or his father Charles VI. Instead, we’re recognizing the passing of the baton after years of shifts from

Contact Us

"*" indicates required fields

I am not a robot
Ed Sharp Current360 headshot

Ed Sharp

Ed brings 15 years of traditional and digital media sales experience to the agency, giving us a perspective most agencies don’t have. When he’s not working or seeking new knowledge, Ed hangs out with his wife, two kids, two dogs, one cat, and a hamster. And yes, the cat and hamster are best friends.

Chaney Given

Chaney is a talented and accomplished designer and illustrator, who has expanded his skill set to include motion graphics and video editing. With nearly a decade of experience, his client work includes Waterstep, Baptist Health, the Archdiocese of Louisville Catholic Schools, First Harrison Bank, and many more