Domino’s : Another case study for the files…

As a PR practitioner interested in social media, I’m always looking for case studies and best practices, so I thought I’d share another case study for your files.

If you’re a social media “junkie” like myself, you probably heard about the Disgusting Domino’s video that swept the Web. If not, here are the basics of what went down:

  • Some Domino’s employees taped themselves tampering with the food
  • The tampering was pretty gross – putting cheese in their nose, doing gross stuff with the meat for sandwiches, etc.
  • The brilliant employees (who identify themselves as Kristy and Michael) posted the video on YouTube Monday night…and by yesterday (in less than 24 hours), there were more than 500,000 hits
  • As far as I can tell, the video has been taken off YouTube – but I’m sure there are some hacker/stalker ways you could find it elsewhere if you looked hard enough! Update: here is a link to a version of the video (it may be taken down at some point, as were most other copies of it).

Well, as you may imagine, the video spread like wildfire and tons of people were talking about it. It was all over the twittersphere, the blogworld and even online news.

Thankfully, Domino’s heard about the incident, and tonight (just under 48 hours after the video was released) Patrick Doyle, President of Domino’s, issued a video response via YouTube to apologize, assure that the facilities of this particular Domino’s were profusely sanitized and state that the employees in the video have been punished (he says they were fired and warrants have been issued for their arrest). Watch the video for yourself and see what you think.

I think this is a perfect social media case study for the future – the crisis erupted via social media, pervaded the Web via social media and was extinguished a day later (also via social media). Here are 3 lessons we can take away from this event:

  • Be actively involved with and monitor social media: This is so so so so important! If Domino’s employees weren’t active online, when would they have seen the video and the reactions? When would they have responded? (Remember the Motrin Mom’s incident?)
  • Social media happens in real time – and you must too when responding to crises: The disgusting video was uploaded Monday night, Tuesday the Web was on fire and thousands of Domino’s customers watched the video, Wednesday night the President responded. Did he wait until Thursday morning news to respond? No- because with the Internet, news is constantly happening. Should he have responded Wednesday? Obviously, the sooner the better.
  • If the crisis is happening via social media, use social media to respond: Did the President of the company issue a press release or go on NBC Nightly News to make a statement? No (or if he did/does, that’s not his only way of communicating). He went to YouTube, made his own video and is sharing his story that way. His video is just as a YouTube video should be: short, informal and to the point  – not long, drawn out, full of too many details or like a corporate Domino’s video may look like.  Before the YouTube video was created, Domino’s created a Twitter account to respond to inquiries and update users about the crisis.  Should they have already had a Twitter account? Yes…but at least they stepped up to the plate when the time came.

So what do you think? Was the Domino’s response appropriate? What could he have done differently? Will it repair their reputation, and ultimately, will their pizza sales be effected?

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