Dominos is one company that learned its lesson

December 17, 2009

Dominos Pizza is one company that has appeared in the presentations of many of us so-called experts in social media and crisis communication. But in a bad way. It was one of the most vivid examples of how companies can be caught flat-footed in a major reputation crisis that is driven primarily by social media. In this case it was dim-witted Dominos employees posting disgusting food preparation videos on YouTube–which of course went viral with millions of views in hours. Dominos did a good job of crisis management–for the old world. They simply were not prepared to deal with a crisis in the social media world, but were well prepared to deal with it in the traditional media world. Result–they failed.

This story about Dominos engaging food bloggers on an area of great vulnerability to them (the fact that their pizzas rank near the bottom in taste tests) is an example of understanding the new world of social media. Imagine a few years a PR executive proposing this strategy: “Our product is ranked really low in taste so I’d like to go to the people who are the taste arbiters for most of the rest of the world and who seem to really disparage us and open ourselves up to them, encouraging them to comment to all their followers about what we are doing.”  “What!? Are you nuts? Let’s buy some ads and emphasize how fast we deliver.”

We keep saying today communication is about engagement, transparency, responsiveness to the interaction with customers. That’s true of marketing and true of crisis communication. Congrats, Dominos. In my view anyway, you’ve gone from an organization that doesn’t get it to one that does.

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