In this incident, McNeil Healthcare's Message was the voluntary recall of the products as they "did not meet the quality standards" of the company. Following up that Message was another press release from J&J that the company expects the voluntary recall to impinge on second-quarter earnings because of lower sales. Noticeably absent from both press release was any mention of J&J's Credo which "put the needs and well-being of the people we serve first." Combined, these two Messages build upon each other and conveys the Theme (J&J's Credo) and lead stakeholders to conclude that J&J puts their customers above profits and that consumers can always trust J&J products.
Hence, as you can see from the above example, an understanding of the difference between Themes and Messages is important. A failure to understand the difference, would have resulted in a crisis communication plan that only addresses the incident without protecting or building upon the brand of the company or product.