Communicating through Crisis Management

By: Chelsi Odegaard @chelsi_odegaard

Many companies watch other crisis’ happen and think it will never happen to them. A crisis is an event you don’t anticipate; therefore, many companies ultimately react poorly and untimely which leaves customers unimpressed. When an event occurs, negative or positive, many people turn to social media for news and answers. It has become essential for companies to peruse the internet looking for dialogue that could be harmful to their business. So when a major negative event occurs, such as when two Domino’s Pizza employees released an unsanitary video on YouTube, it is important for the company to have a crisis management plan prepared and ready to implement. The video Domino’s employees released showed them blowing mucous into food, putting cheese in their nostrils and putting a sponge used for dishes in their buttock inside a Domino’s Pizza kitchen. This video went viral overnight and Domino’s was unsure how to react.

Richard Levick, president of Levick Strategic Communications, offers four tips in preparing for crisis: 1. Identify your crisis team. Employees should be informed as well, not just a 3rd party team. 2. Imagine your nightmare scenarios and learn how to prepare for those. 3. Track the internet and social media and lastly 4. Don’t wait. A company only has 24 hours to respond and make a difference.  Once a crisis has occurred some other tips for handling the issue include utilizing all social media platforms available. Companies should remember to stay on point with their organizational values, take responsibility for their actions, and leave comments on and respond quickly.

We can learn from Domino’s Pizza because it was obvious they weren’t ready for the negative backlash created once the video went viral. Domino’s didn’t respond with a video until 48 hours later and did not release a press release for 24 hours. Domino’s should have released a video with their CEO within a few hours explaining the video was not filmed during store hours and take responsibility of the situation. Reacting and responding quickly and efficiently shows customers they are important and informed. If a company is prepared for a social media crisis they prevent the loss of customers and save the national perception of their brand.

2 thoughts on “Communicating through Crisis Management

  1. Katherine Taylor

    Companies may not be prepared for crisis situations, but they should have a process in order once they are faced with a crisis. I think that most companies should release a statement within hours of knowledge of a situation. Given the Domino’s example, I think that although the CEO may not have known what the specifics were in the case, he should’ve released a statement saying that they were investigating the problem and given the public any information they knew to be true at the time. Companies should at least acknowledge that they know the video/photo/tweet had gone public and they are dealing with it accordingly.

    In regards to, Levick’s list of solutions, is great, and if all companies had these things in place it would probably solve a lot of problems in the beginning.

    -Katherine Taylor

  2. How to deal with a crisis is something that is extremely difficult for any company. You have to “prepare” for something that you don’t know when it will occur or what it will entail. Establishing a process instead of a set of actions is obviously the best way to prepare for these situations, which it doesn’t appear Dominoes did. Had they been better prepared for a social media crisis like this, they would have been able to stop the wave of negative publicity that followed this video.

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