Paul Holmes 15 Apr 2014 // 12:10PM GMT
In a thorough analysis of General Motors’ response to its current crisis, [email protected] makes the inevitable comparison between GM and Johnson & Johnson during the Tylenol crisis. The most telling quote comes from David Vinjamuri, author of the book Accidental Branding: “The instinct of a large corporation is self-preservation, and at a large public company, the CEO tends to be judged by market valuation in the short term. “The decisions [then-J&J CEO James E. Burke] made are not the ones the in-house counsel and CFO are going to tell [a CEO] to do today because it potentially has a very big, immediate and unknown financial liability when you admit liability and actively recall.” Given that GM’s legal counsel apparently thought it was a good to idea to threaten a victim’s family for legal fees if they did not drop a lawsuit against the automaker, it’s difficult to argue that the legal department’s understanding of public relations has evolved, so this just makes an even stronger case for the argument I made a couple of weeks ago, that a company’s public relations department needs to be a part of the decision-making process, and needs to have the courage to tell the CFO and the chief legal officer—and even the CEO—when they’re wrong. At least they now have precedent on their side.