Tylenol Warnings PR Lesson: How to Title Your News to Avoid Negative PR

Today, Tylenol was making headlines for an interesting new label text on its Extra Strength Tylenol caps: “Contains acetaminophen. Always read the label.”

The text has the purpose to reduce the number of accidental acetaminophen overdoses that occur every year, according to an official announcement, distributed via Twitter.

While the company didn’t issue a release with a controversial title, the media focused its approach on the text, describing it as a “warning,” and not on the “safe use” of Tylenol, therefore, the public is currently searching for “tylenol warnings” which implies a negative news bit.

The word “warning” is nowhere near the official Johnson & Johnson update on Twitter, nor on the new text visible on the new Extra Strength Tylenol caps. This means that the company was fully aware of the possible negative outcome of using negative-sentiment words in a public announcement. While the trend is not Johnson & Johnson’s making, being an issue caused by some popular media outlets covering the story, there are several good lessons to learn from this event:

  • Avoid any use of negative terms in your title, or intro paragraph when you publish a press release for a new service or a new product that you are about to launch.
  • Do not use negative keywords in newsletter updates, either.
  • Social media profile updates are public too, and have great chances of becoming viral news. Avoid negative words, to keep a positive sentiment for your brand and products.

For example, instead of using the word “warning” in a title when you issue something like Tylenol’s cap update, use a creative title, which implied positive change: “Tylenol Issues Extra Strength Tylenol Safe Use Update” or “How to Use Extra Strength Tylenol Safely.”

On Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels that are Google and search engine indexed, follow the Johnson & Johnson update model above.

For newsletters, the titling example for press releases works fine, except that you could be more creative. Something like: “Extra Strength Tylenol Just Got Safer.”

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