Communication Case Analysis 1|Page Domino’s Pizza Social Media Crisis Situation Communication Case Analysis The Problem The facts that are connected to the problem find their routes in managing 2|Page communication crisis situations based on the social media. Due to an unpleasant incident in one of Domino’s branches, the managers were cough by surprise and found themselves unable to cope with it instantly and effectively.

On Monday, April 13, 2009 two Domino’s Pizza employees posted a video on YouTube showing one of them committing health department violations, like sticking cheese in his nose, spiting in the pizza and other disgusting actions on products that were to be delivered to a customer. By the end of the day, the video was viewed nearly one million times on YouTube, on various blogs (The Consumerist) and on Twitter, sending the famous pizza chain into a social media crisis. The video was not instantly removed because Domino’s found out about its existence 24 hours later and YouTube needed a signed statement from one of the employees.Of course, the two employees were dismissed and sent to court for their actions, claiming it was just a prank. Two days later, Domino’s brought in local health department to the store in order to have everything inspected and all open containers discarded.

Finally, in the evening of April 15, the HQ decided to response via a video posted on YouTube of Patrick Doyle, President of Domino’s Pizza USA, reassuring customers that it was a unique incident. They also created a Twitter account and encouraged its employees to twitter and regain its reputation, but the damage was already done.There are dozens of alternatives that Domino’s should have consider about, before and after the incident, so as to prevent, or eventually, manage with the communication crisis: Monitor social networks and blogs Social Networking mediums like Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere could easily contribute to the success or to the failure of the company.

They can be used in various ways, depending on the type of the organization. Researches show that 63 percent of companies Communication Case Analysis 3|Page lan to increase their social networking marketing budgets and that social media advertising is expected to grow 17 percent in the next 5 years. In the case of Domino’s Pizza, that had a lack of social media presence at the time, things would be much different if they had established a small team that would continuously track the Internet for potential incidents or rumours relating to customer service, employee’s behaviour and any other comment that could ruin its reputation. So, it is hard to deny the power and the possibilities of social networking, especially when your company addresses to millions of customers every day.

Develop policies to minimize crisis situations On the other hand, managers should develop such policies that would minimize the risk of future crisis situations. When Domino’s HR managers hired those two employees they had no idea of their potential actions. This is a common situation a lot of companies have to cope with. The policy that Domino’s follows so as to hire an employee is limited in a tenminute interview, which would, obviously, not reveal the psyche of the potential employee.

So, by arranging a second and more meticulous interview, Domino’s will build an integrated profile of the candidate person who is to get on board with the company. Another policy that managers should follow is to give bonuses to employees who contribute to the success of the company. If they are mistreated or they are starting to feel ignored, they will become unproductive and, eventually, they are more likely to create some kind of trouble that would cost a lot to the company.

Rewarding productive employees is an effective incentive to work in any organization.Build good Press and Public relations Building good press and public relations often helps companies get out of the crisis faster. When Domino’s was informed about the incident, goodwill, air time and space was necessary so as to think and plan the next moves. Keeping in touch with local reporters and newscasters, inviting them regularly to company events and developing close relations with Communication Case Analysis 4|Page the media would have given some space for Domino’s reaction. It is very important to the company to create a public relations office that would deal with all kinds of media.

But due to the lack of this relationship, 12 hours after the video was posted, the news had already started “bombing” Domino’s in a malicious way, without leaving space and time for reaction. This had as a result for Domino’s to make some wrong moves regarding to customer’s information. They decided to upload a video showing the President of Domino’s explaining and reassuring the customers that it was a unique incident, instead of submitting a formal press release. It is obvious that this action is an after-effect of bad press and public relations.Create a crisis team Communication crisis in organizations is often a preventable situation that can be eliminated before it occurs, if handled efficiently by a group of people within the company.

If Domino’s had established a crisis team, the outcomes would be different. This team should be small, agile, alert and easily reachable. They must show confidence and on board with the idea that an effective plan will be put in place, whenever necessary. Each member must have a specific function in potential crisis. Domino’s Pizza is a huge franchise company and the HQ must invest a lot in this team.

The only member the company was a volunteer spokesperson, who spoke to the media 2 days after the crisis occurred. That was wrong because in situations like this, teamwork is the key to deal with them. If Domino’s had considered creating a crisis team, which would had an updated media list and good press contacts and act simultaneously in different functions, there would not have been a crisis but just a problem with the potentials to be resolved very quickly. This is a very practical and reliable alternative that the company should had been aware of.Create a crisis communication plan However, an effective crisis team needs to be guided by a well established and sophisticated crisis plan. Domino’s not only did not have a crisis team but it also responded Communication Case Analysis 5|Page like an amateur that had never considered of worst case scenarios that could affect company’s reputation.

Such a plan would include of a group of people with different responsibilities ready to act quickly and also a lead person responsible for ensuring all necessary steps are taken. A list of basic steps should have been conducted and monitored by the director of communications.Questions like “What is the situation? ”, What is already known? ”, “Who will be affected? ”, “Is a legal or a counsel needed? ” are part of this planning and the crisis team must be responsible to answer immediately. When Domino’s found out about the video, managers should had assessed the situation firstly, determined the facts and then modified the plan according to the situation. On the contrary, the company was cough by surprise and had no particular plan to implement. As revealed later, Domino’s HQ was trying to communicate with the store manager, but his contact details had been changed, providing more confusion to the situation.So, it is requisite for the company to create a good communication bridge among its franchisers.

Setting up situations and implementing those plans to scenarios, is the best “exercise” for future protection. Respond faster When Domino’s was first alerted for the existence of the video, they decided not to take an aggressive approach to responding claiming they did not want to give any other dimensions to the incident. Their response came 48 hours later with the President’s video, allowing thousands of comments, posts and twits spread across the Internet.That is one serious mistake the company made. In crisis situations like these, effective and immediate response in required, especially when it involves mediums in which information is instant and in global scale.

The very first reaction of Domino’s should have been to remove the video from YouTube as soon as possible, so as to deactivate every link to it. The fewer they know about it, the less damage to the company. It is critical to respond immediately and gain control as quickly as possible.

Company’s next step should have been to develop a Communication Case Analysis |Page controllable communication between the media and become the declarative source of news for responders, government, blog authors and customers. Once Domino’s would have reached that position, and in combine with accurate and timely information flow, it would be easier for the company to become part of the solution to the crisis, and it would provide a great impact to the customers. Be sincere and apologize When Patrick Doyle, president of Domino’s USA, started to reassure the customers via the response video, he had a guilty and desperate look.It is easy to understand his position in cases like these, but it is viable for the company to play sincerely with its audience. He was not even looking at the camera, presenting the situation as a unique fault of two employees that had nothing to do with the reality. Of course, that was an untrusting statement that could easily ruin company’s reputation. An apology may not excuse responsibility, but it demonstrates a human quality and helps preserving the value of the brand after the crisis has passed.

So, it was Domino’s responsibility to apologise to its community in order to gain credibility and generate confidence that they have recognized the mistake. A formal press release to the Consumerist, followed by a sincere statement from the President, would have been an acceptable way to offer an apology and face up to the error and to be transparent about the incident. Comparing the alternatives When it comes to communication crisis, it is essential to examine and compare all possible alternatives before concluding to the best one.Monitoring social media and creating a good communicational channel between the company and the media is an effective way to prevent communication crisis. The strengths of those alternatives lay in the fact that they can build strong communicational bonds between the company and the media. The company is up to date with the kind of the reputation and the acceptance its customers generate and discuss Communication Case Analysis 7|Page across the Internet. However, it is not easy to conclude good relations between the company and the media.It requires educated personnel and long-term efforts to establish a circle of connections that could be very useful in the future.

On the other hand, creating a crisis team and developing policies that will minimize the risks of potential crisis, are considered as strong weapons for every company. They create a defensive mechanism, and if a crisis occurs, it is easier for the company to cope with any unpleasant situation. Nevertheless, being a member of a crisis team, can easily functions as a boomerang to the whole group as they would be the first to blame if the results were negative.In addition, policies like arranging a second interview with the candidates or continuously monitoring the performance of the employees may cost the company a lot of time and may be perceived as oppression. As already mentioned before, if Domino’s response was quicker, thing might be better. Yet, sometimes immediate responses may make things worse. In the case of Domino’s, if President’s statement was posted before the video was removed, that would be a useless and immature action and it would contribute to company’s defamation.It is necessary to stay calm and review all the aspects before choosing the right time to speak and figure out the right things to say.

As far as the company reaches that point, it will be ready to implement the communication crisis plan effectively. There is no weakness in choosing the most suitable plan for every situation, even if sometimes we overreact. Finally, it crucial to say that apologizing once, does not give the right to Domino’s to use it like a tool for every mistake in the future. Companies that use apologies as a technique to overcome mistakes are characterized as weak and untrusting.

Choosing the right moves As stated before, Domino’s could have coped with the case through some effective alternative moves, either from preventing the crisis or managing with the situation. It is Communication Case Analysis 8|Page inevitable to distinguish the best alternatives rather than doing too many new things to correct something that is not 100% correctable. In addition, time was limited for Domino’s to respond and the company was in need of decisive actions that would get it out of this unpleasant and harsh position.It is a combination of actions and strategies which if they had been planned and followed in a systematic way, Domino’s would have definitely responded in a more objective way. Due to the tremendous technological changes in all aspects of communication, Domino’s first priority had to be to acclimate with the new generation of social media and to take under serious consideration all the effects it has on every organization.

It is a fundamental preference for all companies to monitor social networks and blogs and be active participants.That participation involves subscriptions to accounts in most important online social media and a continuous follow up of the new trends in this particular field. Creating a group within an efficient crisis team, which would constantly monitor the media in all aspects of modern communication and implementing the most suitable communication crisis plan, when required, is a combination of the best alternatives in the case of Domino’s. That team needs to be a group of volunteer employees, in which each member will be functioning in the area that is most familiar to him/her.A spokesperson will be authorized to release information to the media and to the public and all other staff members should be professionals who will help the spokesperson to connect with media, under the supervision of a lead person.

When the crisis occurred, every member should have function as assigned and planned. As soon as Domino’s found out about the video, a meeting of the crisis team was necessary so as to synchronize their actions and do what is possible to maintain company’s reputation. If a crisis team had been formed in the company, the employees would have been released immediately and the video would have been removed earlier.Furthermore, according to the communication crisis plan, the company should notify all affected stuff with Communication Case Analysis 9|Page the situation in order to find the main causes that created the crisis.

Now it is much easier to find the answers to all those questions that will follow and provide the media with the right information. Even if the company had a crisis team, without an appropriate plan and coordinated moves things may have been even worse. So, it is really important for the managers to learn a lesson out of this incident and prevent such situations in the future.The three most effective actions that Domino’s had to do before and after the crisis were: a) to create a crisis management team, b) to assign a group within the team to monitor all social media, and c) to implement a comprehensive communication plan according to the circumstances. Implementing the best alternatives It is necessary to create an Action Plan (Figure 1) presenting the best solution to the case of Domino’s, the required resources for every solution and the deadline. At first, the company should establish a crisis team, before the crisis takes place.The human resources needed to carry out this task would be some experienced volunteer employees, a legal advisor (lawyer) who will advise the company on legal issues, a public relation and media expert who will eventually take the role of the spokesperson as soon as a situation occurs. Finally, some extra cell phones for each member would be useful, so as to create a team contact list, which will make the communication faster during the crisis.

As long as the team is established, the head leader of the team should assign to three or four members the task of monitoring the media incessantly (newspapers, TV shows, social networks, blogs etc. . This has to be done in an every-day base, highlighting the most important statements concerning the company. In order to do that, some reliable equipment is needed such as computers, high speed internet connection and printers. Moreover, it is very important for the team to make subscriptions to the most popular blogs and social networks and continuously follow up company’s reputation. Communication Case Analysis 10 | P a g e Finally, when the crisis bursts out and the company decides to materialize the communication crisis plan, the spokesperson is necessary to take action and deal with the media.

No other member of the team or employee of Domino’s should make any further comments about the incident. He will be in charge to distribute a suitable press kit (press releases, interviews, announcements) to all media channels and do all the talking. Of course, it is inevitable for the team to dedicate a serious amount of extra time to evaluate the facts and put the plan in place in less than 24 hours. The most effective alternatives are presented below in a general action plan and in priority order: Figure 1 ACTION ? RESOURCES Trained, reliable and experienced personnel DEADLINECreate a crisis team ? ? ? ? ? Legal advisors PR and media expert Extra cell phones Reliable equipment Blog subscriptions and social networks accounts (twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) Before crisis occurs Monitor social networks and blogs Continuous Communication Case Analysis 11 | P a g e ? Create a communication crisis plan ? ? Spokesperson Less than 24 hours Press kits for the Media after crisis occurs Time Conclusion Communication crisis can really damage reputation and affect how stakeholders and customers interact with the company, because it gives people reasons to think badly about it.In crisis situations, company’s priority is to protect stakeholders from harm, not to protect its reputation.

Again, the media and the internet play a critical role and the management should take them under serious consideration. If Domino’s had built a strong crisis management mechanism, the damage would have been eliminated faster and more effectively. To conclude with the analysis of the strongest alternatives, it is necessary to describe the criteria that have been used so as to generate the best solutions to the problem.


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