When you think of benchmark cases in crisis management, certain names come to mind immediately. Johnson & Johnson's handling of the Tylenol crisis is a great example of crisis management and has become a benchmark of how to handle a crisis. The Dow Corning silicone breast implant crisis has become a benchmark of how not to handle a crisis. There are a number of valuable lessons learned from this particular crisis. Both crises dealt with public health and safety issues, but both were handled very differently. Because of this, Dow Corning's reputation and image suffered considerably.
As a result, Dow Corning is still suffering today from a crisis that began in the late 1980s. The company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1995 and is…show more content…
Dow Corning eventually had to file a bankruptcy re-organization plan hoping to be able to recover by 1999.
The immediate impact of the crisis hit fast and hard. Highly publicized lawsuits and relentless negative media coverage casting Dow in an unfavorable light were overwhelming to the company, in spite of the fact that a crisis plan was in place. In a 1997 interview with The Public Relations Strategist, current CEO Dick Hazelton said, "The crisis plan, frankly, was overwhelmed by the facts and circumstances. The fundamental elements of the plan were to be open, state the scientific facts as we believed them to be, and to not hide anything. In theory, the plan seemed fine. But in practice, the crisis plan was inadequate for the intensity of what happened.
This case study analyzes Dow Corning's communication approach during the crisis, broken down into three time periods. The communications strategies the company utilized during each stage will be critiqued.
In the first stage, July-September 1991, some of Dow Corning's most crucial mistakes were made. The onset of a crisis is when a company must appear the strongest and most in control to the public. Dow Corning's strategy was to rely on the scientific evidence and use that information as its only defense in its limited public statements. The company was not very open with the media, which fueled the crisis even more. When company