Johnson & Johnson PR Crisis

The global crisis that the pandemic has caused not only led to economic difficulties for countries and businesses around the world but plenty of stress and anxiety among individuals as well.

The latest information from Johnson & Johnson, about how they would be putting over 100 million doses of their vaccine on hold due to a potential contamination, is only adding more pressure to the ongoing PR crisis for the company.

It was just over a month ago that the company decided to put its Covid-19 vaccine on pause due to half a dozen cases of blood clotting in women that received the shot.

This caused a significant decrease in the public’s trust in the company’s vaccine, despite Johnson & Johnson repeatedly stating that those were simple safety measures.

The company has faced numerous communications crises throughout the years, and the not-for-profit vaccine seemed to be the first winning story after a long time. Unfortunately, when the first reports of negative side effects surfaced, the narrative around the company started turning negative once again.

Next, after the pause, the company also had to announce that Emergent BioSolutions, the contract manufacturer, ended up mixing up the ingredients between the batches of Johnson & Johnson and the AstraZeneca vaccines.

This led to about 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson being ruined, which caused a snag in the supply.

The biggest irony in this PR crisis for Johnson & Johnson is that the current wave of negative press coverage is simply because of the company trying to do the right thing, when, in the past, the bad press was from alleged wrongdoings.

Furthermore, the latest bout of negative press coverage once again seems to put the contract manufacturer, Emergent BioSolutions, at fault. This comes after the first 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine were ruined due to the cross-contamination with AstraZeneca, as well as the report last month that about 62 million doses would be checked for contamination.

The reason behind the cross-contamination is because the Emergent BioSolutions lab is making the ingredients for both the AstraZeneca and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The factory is engineering both vaccines, but they’re not the ones bottling them. However, with the latest development, if any of the vaccines have been contaminated, they will have to be thrown out.

This puts Johnson & Johnson in a rather unfortunate situation with the public, as all of the vaccine manufacturing brands are under the consumer’s scrutiny with the increase in vaccine hesitancy around the globe.

The only way for the company and all other brands facing similar communication crises, to mitigate the situation is to explain everything in simple and clear terms.

However, the problem arises when considering whether the public is willing to listen. Plenty of media outlets have already talked about the company in a negative light, and the public has therefore created a negative association with the brand itself.

Fortunately, all of the negativity is likely going to be temporary, because the company is as strong as ever, and has successfully navigated other situations with bad press in the past.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5W Public Relations. 5W PR is a leading digital PR and influencer marketing agency.

Ronn Torossian is CEO & Founder of 5WPR & one of America’s most notable PR executives. He is the Author of best-selling PR book, “For Immediate Release.“