Crisis Management "Gold Standard" Actually Tinny

As many speeches, magazines and books have done previously, the current issue of Fortune magazine calls Johnson & Johnson's (J&J's) response to the 1982 Tylenol capsule poisoning deaths "the gold standard in crisis control." O'Dwyer's PR Daily writes that "the Tylenol story, as commonly told, is a 'fairy tale,'" as PR executive James Lukaszewski once called it. J&J's CEO at the time, James Burke, "learned of the tragedy" of the seven Chicago-area deaths "on Wednesday, Sept. 30, and called a staff meeting for Monday" -- in contrast to the "myth" that he acted immediately. J&J also "tried to localize the problem, recalling two batches that were circulated in the Chicago area." A wider recall wasn't launched until "after another attempted poisoning using Tylenols took place on the following Tuesday in Oroville, Calif." And "while Burke has been lauded for his openness with the press, he did not hold a press conference." The problem was the capsules, which "some pharmacists would not stock," because they "could easily be taken apart and 'spiked.'" After another Tylenol capsule poisoning in 1986, J&J's Burke admitted he was sorry that the company "did not stop making Tylenols in capsules after the Chicago murders."