Effective Communication Case Study Analysis: Case 9-1 Pepsi Syringe
Effective Communication Case Study Analysis: Case 9-1 Pepsi Syringe
Effective Communication Case Study Analysis
Case 9-1 Pepsi Syringe
University of Phoenix
Public Relations / MKT 438
Charles Bocage, Dean of Education,
Apagy Technology Group, MBA, MSIS, TQM
January 22, 2007
Effective Communication Case Study Analysis
Case 9-1 There’s a Syringe in My Pepsi Can
Public, private, and non-profit organizations have experienced unprecedented change. The function of public relations has gained recognition for providing appropriate counsel to organizations that need to respond to this period of accelerating change.

The perception that a “public relations person” is oriented to the self-promotion of an organization has shifted. Todays public relations professionals are required to work in an environment that is sensitive to both the needs of their own organizations and those of the various publics it serves. The effectiveness of communication among an organization and its public is crucial to the wellbeing of the company. To demonstrate this concept this paper will evaluate the article: There’s a Syringe in my Pepsi Can! It will identify the different publics involved, the impacts, the different PR communication tools and techniques, and the benefits and risks of using those tools.

On June 10, 1993 Pepsi responded to a scare that was broadcasted nationally. Their communication was quick, effective and very decisive. As noted in the article “The Pepsi case is a tribute to sound communications thinking and rapid, decisive public relations action in the face of imminent corporate catastrophe.” (p. 121, Seitel)

The Pepsi PR team focused on both their internal and external publics. The internal publics consisted of employees (executives, managers, bottlers, and stakeholders ect.) and the external publics consisted of the American population. The communication directed to the internal public was strong. The company adopted full and immediate disclosure of all of the facts involved. It set strong expectations that its product was tamper resistant. PepsiCo president personally wrote to bottlers and general managers and explained their positioning and kept them abreast of the breaking developments as the crisis continued. Videotapes were sent out as well as memos and the surveillance footage which reaffirmed Pepsi’s innocence. Pepsi did not feed the frenzy that was being generated by the media nor did they let it internalize.

The external public was targeted differently. PepsiCo chose to focus on television as its vehicle of communication. It relayed a pride in its product and took a firm stance and said no to the recall. PepsiCo said that the act was totally independent of Pepsi Cola and that their was no medical implications with the hoaxes. The electronic media (TV) added authenticity to the claim. The documentation provided showed the conveyor belt and the speed at which it sent the sodas through the process. It showed that it was virtually tamper resistant. The American public gradually started to believe and support Pepsi. More Hoaxes continued which added to the belief that they were, just that, hoaxes. Pepsi did an excellent job communicating with both publics due to the time constraint and circumstances in which they where placed.

PepsiCo chose to take a firm stance

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