Business Reputation Risks: Benefits to Being First…

Michael D. Moberly, Principal, Founder kpstrat and ‘Business Intangible

This, andthe two preceding posts @ Business Intangible Asset Blog explore the multiple tragedies + reputation risks to Johnson & Johnson’s ‘Extra Strength Tylenol’ that publicly materialized in Chicago on September 30, 1982…

  • which led to the deaths of 7 citizens following bottles of Tylenol determined to have been laced with cyanide poison.

For any business and its leadership (irrespective of sector, size, stage of development, or product-service), which happen to be the first to publicly experience a particular adverse situation or set of circumstances, ala risk to reputation…

  • there may be some benefits (sic) that may not measurably lessen the impact or consequences, rather allow important ‘goodwill moments’ to understand + unravel the specific adversity and viable paths for a business – brand to address + mitigate the risk + recover and return to a reasonable state of operational normalcy with the brand being intact

Such benefits may materialize as less direct – intrusive – conspiratorial public scrutiny, second-guessing, or the adversity being intentionally perverted – exploited to advance a competitor, an ideology, or a tangential position.

Underlying this series of posts @ Business Intangible Asset Blog, is the perspective I advance, i.e.,

  • J&J and Tylenol product tampering were the first. Therefore, J&J likely benefitted.

Importantly + consequentially, leaders at both J&J and McNeil did a lot of things right, for the right reasons and the Tylenol brand survived. Readers are obliged to consider this.

Goodwill moments can translate as opportunities and often emerge (coalesce – converge) from – through the eyes of’ consumers, users, buyers and perhaps regulatory-oversight-investigative entities, political apparatus, ideological influencers, and media scrutiny.

If-when business leaders, et al, recognize goodwill moments = opportunities, its’ likely the duration of same may vary relative to ‘public – political scrutiny’ sense the adversity (as it affects them, their loved ones, their business, etc.) is being addressed forthrightly + effectively + speedily to negate – prevent further harm.

Being a leader, management team, board member, or investor in the 2d, 3d, or 4th business to experience a similar reputation risk, the ‘goodwill moment’ is likely to translate to ‘goodwill nanoseconds’ or may not emerge at all.

Goodwill moments (post risk materialization)can be interpreted – measured in varying degrees-levels of trust time relative to…

  1. how + the ways business leaders, et al, are acknowledged – understood as handling – mitigating a particular-adversity, e.g., often via transparent messaging + objective evidence that same is
  2. proceeding rapidly – applying good, better, best tactics – strategies on behalf of (product – service) consumers and while the brand experiences harm, trust in same can be restored and remain reasonably intact, providing there is no wash, rinse, repeat cycle.

Every aspect of the business operability – sustainability has + continues to undergo irreversible change since the Tylenol events surfaced – unraveled in Chicago in September – October 1982.

There remain relevant – important ‘things to learn’ from the J&J – Tylenol incident about avoiding – mitigating business reputation risk.

A valid starting point is recognizing that business – brand reputations are foundationally embedded with intangible assets.

The ‘Business Intangible Asset Blog’ is experientially researched, written, and produced by Michael D. Moberly, to provide readers (business leaders, management teams, boards, and investors with reliable perspectives and nuanced insights to distinguish, value, and safeguard business things intangible designated as mission essential. 

Readers of this, and other posts, @ Business Intangible Asset Blog’ are-encouraged to comment.


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