public relations challenge

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  • CASE SUMMARY: Procter & Gamble Co. scrambled to put out an Internet wildfire over the safety of its new Pampers Dry Max diapers , a crucial brand that accounts for about 11% of the company’s revenue. Some mothers who blame the reengineered diapers for causing rashes, even “chemical burns,” started a Facebook page to detail their claims and press P&G to reverse course. The claims quickly gained traction, leading to a lawsuit and inquiries by product-safety regulators in the U.S. and Canada. The bad publicity put the Cincinnati-based company in the uncomfortable position of having to publicly blame or discredit its own customers. The company issued a news release arguing that the claims are being “perpetuated by a small number of parents,” some of whom support competitors’ products or cloth diapers.
  • Read the facts of the P&G Pampers case summarized above. This summary is from The WSJ, 5/14/10, when the news first happenedThere’s since been updates that you should report on.

    The case raises the issue of how a company should handle bad publicity related to complaints from customers.

    QUESTIONS: Answer all parts of each question

    1.  What changes did P&G make to its new Pampers? What was the company’s intentin making these changes to the diapers? What issues was the company facing as a result of these changes?

    2. What was the basis of the lawsuit filed against P&G?  How was the government getting involved?

    3. What was P&G’s public relations challenge when dealing with the criticism of its new diapers? Whatdelicate balance must businesses reach when dealing with customer complaints?

    4.How was P&G reacting to the situation? Do you agree with that approach? Why or why not? Whatsuggestions would you have made as the company proceeded?

    5. What part have social-networking websites played in this situation? How are social-networking sites an advantage for public relations? How can they use them in positive ways? How can social-networking sites be problematic? What other companies (name specific)have faced the wrath of customers who have turned to  social media sites to voice their complaints?

    6. Go to P&G’s website and read the press release from 5/6/10  “Pampers Calls Rumors Completely False”.  What’s your opinion of P&G’s news release?

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