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The presence of the media during a crisis has an impact on how organizations react to and handle the situation. The manner in which the events are reported in the media has an impact on the responses of stakeholders. The case of the Domino's Pizza crisis and how management handled the problem is a classic example of how technology (for example, social media) can impact crisis response and management in an organization in both constructive and negative ways. About the fact that the media assisted in the spread of the video posted by the two employers, drawing critical feedback from consumers, the organization's management resorted to using the same media outlet to apologize and respond to the clients, while monitoring the circumstance. The paper points out that organizations can use media to effectively manage crises. Moreover, the Domino’s Pizza crisis reveals that the absence of regulations on the use of social media can have an adverse effect on a firm’s brand image and reputation. However, if properly utilized, it can act as a channel of addressing customer needs.
According to Derani & Naidu (2016), every business organization strives to maintain a good relationship with its clients. In most cases, public relation and communication departments are created to address the customers' concerns and ensure that they do not feel bad about the company goods, services, or operations. Firms use media to engage stakeholders and pass valuable information. However, the recent advancement in technology especially social media, have brought both negative and positive effects to business organizations. In several instances, firms have used media to manage a crisis such as cases of consumer unrest. Like many other organizations, Domino’s Pizza managed to prevent the damage that was caused by negative media attention after a video of employees smearing mucus and spitting on pizza uploaded on YouTube went viral various on social media platforms (Wan, Koh, Ong & Pang, 2015). This paper shows the effects of social media on an organization’s public relation, reputation, and crisis communication. It outlines how social media led to negative impression and how the firm used the same platform to manage the crisis.
Founded in the year 1960, Domino’s Pizza (formerly known as Dominick’s) is operating multi stores in several regions including the international market (Coombs, 2007). For several years now, the company has been delivering Pizza to their customers. The company integrated the use of technology in order and delivery of their products. Moreover, social media acted as their primary marketing strategy through which they acquired many clients.
According to Veil, Sellnow & Petrun (2012), Domino’s Pizza encountered a crisis in April 2009 when two workers uploaded a video on YouTube revealing their acts on the pizzas before delivering to the clients. In one of the videos, an employee was captured smearing mucus on the sandwiched pizza then rubbing in his buttocks (Kim & Jeong, 2012). This together with other videos went viral in the social media receiving negative comments from customers who expressed their disappointment with Domino’s Pizza. The videos were viewed by approximately one million people in a span of two days before they were pulled down. This act led to a crisis since many newsrooms reported the incident while many bloggers shared the video in their websites and other social media platforms creating a negative product image to the consumers. To manage the crisis, the firm’s Vice President recorded and uploaded an apology video on YouTube and Twitter. The two employees were also sacked to redeem the company’s lost glory.
The role of Media in Managing the Crisis
Timothy & Jean (2014) points out that the media plays a major role in helping companies communicate with their stakeholders (for instance customers and workers) during a crisis. In the case of Domino’s Pizza, newsrooms, bloggers, and customers shared the videos with their social circles on various social media platforms. Through the messages communicated in the videos, consumers were convinced that Domino’s Pizza was not concerned about the quality of products and services they delivered to them. The social media allowed the videos to be disseminated to the various organization’s networks. During the incident, many journalists and bloggers captured the event in their news headlines, articles, and video footages. According to Ogden and Ogden (2014), communication managers should provide quick clarification, apology, or any other relevant response to their consumers to help in restoring customer’s loyalty as well as controlling the adverse effects of negative reviews that a firm may encounter during a crisis. “Communication with clients and other stakeholders during a crisis through social media provide a faster and efficient method of managing the crisis” (Ogden and Ogden, 2014).
Not only the company reacted by firing the two workers but also used the same medium that spread the video to handle the crisis. Domino’s Vice President uploaded a video in which he apologized on behalf of the company regarding the video posted by the two employees. He resolved to use Twitter and Facebook to reach the many angry and disappointed customers. Although the media negatively contributed in spreading the video posted by the workers thereby escalating the issue and making the company lose customers, the same media positively contributed in managing the crisis (Liu, Austin & Jin, 2011). However, Ogden and Ogden (2014) points out that during a crisis, the speed at which an organization’s clients gather information concerning the organization’s harmful act is much faster than the rate at which public relations and communication teams monitor and verify the validity of the alleged information before preparing a response to curb the situation. In this context, the social media negatively contributed in painting a negative image on Domino’s Pizza workers, products, and services while at the same time helped in managing the crisis.
Firms must understand how to incorporate media during crisis management. In particular, companies must strive to build a rapport with their customers by addressing their concerns by communicating with them through either social media or other forms of communication. Media involvement in Domino’s Pizza crisis had both a negative and positive effect. On one side, the media contributed in escalating the crisis since journalist and bloggers shared the video on their networks. On the other hand, social media helped in reaching the clients through the apology video uploaded on You Tube. Domino’s Pizza President and Vice President pointed out that using the same social media platforms to send clarifications and apologies to the customers ensured that the targeted audience attention was captured and their concerns addressed.
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