Domino’s Pizza and the Life Cycle of Public Opinion

In the democratized, media-saturated era we live in incidents like the one that just happened to Domino’s Pizza (where two employees, Kristy Hammonds and Michael Setzer, videotaped themselves doing a variety of unsanitary things to customer’s orders) are inevitable. In fact, I can’t believe that this hasn’t happened more frequently.

The PR industry is wringing its hands over how to respond given how seemingly powerless large organizations are to stop these sorts of events. The solution is (as with many problems in the age of social media) transparency.

Here’s a couple free suggestions for Domino’s:

  • Install webcams in all of your 8,500 kitchens and broadcast them in real time on your website so that customers can go peek in on the happenings at their local pizzeria to assuage their fears that some douchenozzle is snorting the shredded cheese into their Chicken Bacon Ranch Oven-Baked Sandwich.
  • If you really want to do a good job of it – crowdsource enforcement: empower your customers by giving them the option to flag a section of video for further scrutiny (and possible criminal charges).

Given how cheap digital technology and cloud computing are, it likely won’t cost that much and you can simultaneously 1) recover from the negative perception, 2) build credibility by following up a promise with concrete action, 3) get a hot, cheesy promotional slice of earned media for being the first major fast food chain to adopt this safety measure.

The best part is that there’s really nothing startlingly-new about this approach; it’s the same principle as putting the kitchen in a restaurant within view of the customers.

Even if Domino’s did nothing but make sure the two miscreants end up on the business end of a lawsuit and criminal charges – that’s likely enough to restore their bruised image. That’s the way of the wired world: yes, it casts a spotlight on an organization’s negatives – but people are more open-minded and forgiving than we give them credit for when it comes to considering the context of bad PR (especially if an organization has built up credit by operating above-board and generally doing the right thing on a daily basis).

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