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Domino’s, a master of crisis management

April 16, 2009

Monitor your brand online.

We are constantly hearing how important it is to do just that.

Domino’s is a current great example of why monitoring your online brand is so crucial.  If you haven’t heard yet, two now terminated employees shot a video of themselves tampering with food about to be delivered while on the job on Sunday.  I won’t go into the gross details, since the video below clearly demonstrates what they did.

How did Domino’s handle it? As soon as Domino’s CEO Tim McIntyre received an email with the video, he emailed Domino’s head of security.  While security was tracking down the employees, McIntyre contacted, who had posted the videos. But people were starting to criticize Domino’s for not issuing a formal statement about the incident.

“By exposing millions of people to the end of the story, do you inadvertently invite millions of people to go look to the front half of the story?” McIntyre says. “We didn’t want to do that. … We weren’t silent for 24 hours, believe me. It was just people weren’t in the same place we were.”

Domino’s got busy.  On Wednesday morning, they created a Twitter account, which they had been talking about doing for awhile anyway.  Here is their first post:

#dominos video – the pair was fired & criminal complaints filed. there are warrants for their arrest. – pls RT!

Since Wednesday, they’ve posted 88 updates and in doing so, replied to other tweets.   They also posted a response on Wednesday.

The ex-employees are Kristy Hammonds, 31 and a registered sex offender, and Michael Setzer, 32 of North Carolina.  Tampering with food is a felony in North Carolina, so you can imagine these two idiots will be served up arrest warrants very soon.

A guy I met at a quant workshop put on by Hall & Partners and the 4A’s posted an article on Facebook about how we as marketers can learn from this.  How to respond to a social media attack:

• Monitor social media. Big companies must actively watch Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social sites to track conversations that involve them. That will help uncover potential crises-in-the-making, says Brian Solis, a new-media specialist and blogger at PR2.0.

• Respond quickly. Domino’s responded within hours. “They responded as soon as they heard about it, not after the media asked, ‘What are you going to do?’ ” says Lynne Doll, president of The Rogers Group, a crisis-management specialist.

• Respond at the flashpoint. Domino’s first responded on consumer affairs blog The Consumerist, whose activist readers helped track down the store and employees who made the video. Then it responded on the Twitter site where talk was mounting. “Domino’s did the right thing by reinstituting the trust where it was lost,” Solis says.

• Educate workers. It’s important that all employees have some media and social-media training, says Ross Mayfield, co-founder of Socialtext, which advises companies on new media.

• Foster a positive culture. Workers who are content and customers who like your product are far less likely to tear down a company online, PR guru Katie Delahaye Paine says. “This would be a lot less likely to happen at places like Whole Foods.”

• Set clear guidelines. Companies must have clear policies about what is allowed during working hours — and what isn’t, Doll says. “It won’t prevent everyone from breaking the rules, but at least they’ll know what the rules are.”

Quick, in-house things we can do right now is use the tools publicly available to monitor brands.  Twitter Search, Twitter advanced search and Google.   Or, you can start paying for services from companies like Radian6 and Nielsen BuzzMetrics.

Either way, you need to be monitoring the online chatter about your brands.  And if you do run into a crisis management situation, you need to respond appropriately and rapidly.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. MelissaHamilton permalink
    April 16, 2009 8:50 pm

    listen, listen,listen

    Great post.

  2. Just Elizabeth permalink
    April 16, 2009 8:59 pm

    I agree. It’s very crutial for a company to respond rapidly in a situation like this. The longer you wait, the more damage something like this can do to a company.

  3. delphinias permalink
    April 16, 2009 9:35 pm


    Hire good employees and Dominos wouldn’t have had this problem in the first place.

    But “hiring good employees” doesn’t sound as sexy as “online brand management.”

    You hire loser employees, you get loser results.

  4. Crystal permalink*
    April 20, 2009 9:20 pm

    Terrific post. My favorite part is that they responded at the flash and didn’t run an old media play book.

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