University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
A Case Study of Domino’s Pizza’s Crisis Communication Strategies
If a company experiences a huge crisis, there is no shortcut: the companies will definitely suffer and without elaborate strategies, and the company might never be the same again. The point of debate holds that instead of responding to a crisis as a defeat, the company should recognize the fact that it is another opportunity window and find the best approach out of the crisis, essentially, with its brand image and reputation intact. In reference to Weiss (2009), possessing knowledge of communicating with the company stakeholders could produce major significance for a corporation during crisis irrespective of the severity of the situation. The organizations managing crisis may disregard the power of social media culture that is always very influential. Social media can be addressed both outside and within the organization. Bell, (2010) refers to media culture as crossing boundaries. Therefore, the plans for crisis communication should account for the variables of social media culture. The inclined era of globalization, the world is becoming more connected, and organizations venture into new environments. The hotly contested topic of communication crisis is naturally cross-social media culture and requires attention as part of organizational growth and development.Social media are currently bridging a major headache to the corporate world since it has proved the ability of showing and spreading news. In the previous years, the elite journalist could assist in breaking bad news. However, currently anyone can break bad news and spread it in the social media. From the corporate point of view, the decisions of generating bad news form the company instantly signifies crisis that leads to the negative impact on brand, sales, and word of advertisements. Globalization has resulted into the era of social media. Previously, companies would respond to bad news by releasing public apologies or position statements using the traditional media within a period of few days. This is no longer the case today. The public is constantly scrutinizing the corporate world and expects the company to release prompt apology within the shortest time possible directly using the social media. This has led to a great interest from the companies to establish the manner in which bad news speedily spreads in the social media. Their major concerns are establishing the feeling of the public and propaganda that influences the public sentiments.
The efforts of public relations convey the values, perspectives and norms of organizations that function together to unify the organization (Bell, 2010). A crisis can occur anytime anywhere. It may incorporate complications within any number of cultures or involve conflicts within a single culture. Bell further indicates that perceptions can get swayed with sound organization insight and adequate planning. The organization should adopt a plan that addresses current and future issues, however, in some circumstances, such plans can prove to be an invaluable tool in times of crisis in the organization. The global practitioners of public relations must offer their collaboration strategies with stakeholders to assist in pooling ideas, resources, and strategies together that gets dispersed in dissimilar ways worldwide. This proposal case study investigates the strategies on one of the first companies to experience a global serious brand reputation due to spread of bad new in the social media. Particularly, this research proposal investigates Domino’s Pizza’s crisis management strategies. The proposal analyzes previous studies as a source of secondary data to that would offer a comparison with this study.
Background of the Study/ Domino’s Pizza’s Communication Strategy
As of 1997, Domino’s Pizza was the largest company delivering pizza in the world. Besides, it was the world’s second-largest pizza chain. The company had 4, 431 delivery stores for pizza in the United States. Additionally, the company had more than 1, 521 units in 59 foreign investments by the end of 1997(Peeples & Vaughn, 2010). The sales of the company were worth $3.16 billion providing it with the place as 200th largest private company on the Forbes private list of 500 companies. The company sells multiple products including pan, deep-dish and thin crust pizzas. Despite the excellent international recognition and robust wealth, the company experienced a crisis that made it a historic area of studies within the public relations and communication Domino’s. The crisis of Domino’s pizza began when two company employees produced and uploaded a vulgar video in YouTube in 2009. The video shown the two employees engaging in a number of health law violations, particularly, blowing mucous on sandwich, putting cheese on the nose, and putting a sponge that is meant to wash dishes between the buttocks. Within limited time, the video popularized and gained viral publicity with more than half a million views and the major news media covering the event (Peeples & Vaughn, 2010). It followed that the public joined the discourse and started discussing the video via social media.Weiss, (2009) reports that most of the video discussions took place on Twitter, and investigative research accounts that nearly 15, 000 subscribers of Twitter provided their opinion on the event. The company responded by sharing an apology on Twitter by sharing the chief executive officer apology on YouTube. The response from Dominos was too late, approximately 48 hours after the event, according to (Aula, 2011). The video got posted on a Monday night, and the company responded on Wednesday. Despite the quick efforts from the internal teamwork to form a strategy on Tuesday, the initial intentions of the company were trying not to, because it wanted to restrict further public knowledge on the video. The company failed to issue formal press release to the mainstream press and went against the idea of hiring the external crisis management experts to solve the crisis creatively. However, investigations show that it opened a twitter account to tackle the inquiries from the consumers. Thereafter, the company reached a decision to issue a YouTube apology to quell the already intensified public relations nightmare that was played in t multiple media mainstreams. The crisis caused dire consequences for the company. A study however reveals that crisis communication researchers have not validated such case studies using a systematic analysis on public sentiments on social media (HCD Research, 2009).
Literature Review/ Previous Research
This section presents the research done on the effects of crisis management case studies. The section provides an empirical review of both academic and scholarly data obtained from previous studies. The scholarly work presented in this chapter will provide the basis for analysis that will ultimately assist in answering the research question. The main literature reviews the previous works on strategies of crisis management case study, particularly the case of Domino’s Pizza crisis management. The review adopts a communication and mass media approach to providing analysis of effectiveness public relations in the same context. The literature analysis uses theory us and sub-theories to increase the understanding of the social media industry the proposal will investigate and provide and comprehend a holistic picture of the phenomena.Schiller, (2007) reports on the research on communication crisis literature base on the mechanisms that should be employed by the organizations to manage the crisis and based on the four requirements adopted through research validations. According to the study, the four requirements of crisis response management highlights that the company should be quick to respond in the shortest time possible, be accurate and provide an empirical analysis of the facts with absolute care. Additionally, response to a communication crisis requires companies to avoid saying no comments and be consistent and avoid statement contradictions to the company stakeholders. As outlined by Coombs (2008), the content research put emphasis on more resolves and strategy around the crisis messages that should be communicated to the shareholders. Research on crisis communication has previously focused on managing the reactions of the stakeholders to a crisis. The scholars have put more concentration on the actions and words used to respond to a crisis. Particularly, the researchers have broken the strategies into three categories. These are instructing information, reputation repair and adjusting information.Coombs, (2008) asserts that instructing information provides informational power to the shareholders the degree of physical preparation in the event a crisis emerges. Particularly, this means the application of warning signals that is usually coupled with instructions. Adjusting the information significantly helps the industry stakeholders to develop a coping psychological strategy with the crisis. The repair of reputation entails all the measures put by the organization to repair or protect the perception of the stakeholders towards the organization. The recent strategy by Dominos Pizza to market itself with sole intentions of improving is empirical for this proposal in terms of repair of reputation. According to Schiller (2007), the organization admitted that they had manufactured an inferior product but offered assurance on quality improvement. This is an attempt by the organization to repair the reputation. Researchers agree that the core factors intertwined in an organizational crisis including urgency, unpredictability, significant threats. The researchers further assert that the public is often unwilling to engage in social media discussions when an event is unexpected or important.
The immediate principle of communication crisis management is to tell the truth. The company should face the public and provide the real issue behind the crisis. In the situations of crisis, social constructions and multiple truths of events simultaneously seek public attention. The company, customers and the employees and the media are the key stakeholders for crisis management. Claeys and Cauberghe, (2012) references that the case of Domino Pizza in particular had watchdog organizations such as Consumerist.com and GoodAsYou.org that were constructing the event versions. As established the research article, the truth that Tim McIntyre, the company communication vice president intended to convey was that the event was stage managed and it was a rogue act of two employees who though they were creating fun and that they did not present the brand of Domino Pizza. Likewise, they outlined that the two employees were not the representative of the 10, 000 individuals that tirelessly work for the company across the globe (Aula, 2011). Furthermore, the study reveals that the truth that Patrick Doyle had intentions of articulating was that the company did not do the act and that they were sorry for the rogue event. Therefore, the company moved forward to restore their reputation as an attempt to respond to the crisis.
A research that studied the case of Domino Pizza identified two types of tweets contents. Likewise, Young and Flowers (2012) write that they were fact and opinions. The tweets on facts had no sentiments, however, just stated the event. The category incorporated more links without any text, simple link introductions or links with the same headline of the website linked. On the other hand, the opinion category had tweets that were either positive or negative sentiments. But, based on the incident the nature, most of the tweets were negative. Therefore, the company adopted an apology strategy to solve the crisis. Discussions from the research outline that the officials’ corporate apology dropped the level of negative sentiments from 82.8 percent to 54.6 percent. Still, the level of positive sentiments increased mysteriously from 06 percent to 5.5 percent. Claeys and Cauberghe, (2012) reinforces that crisis communication management practice in situations where companies provides public apology, they do not develop high or sudden increase of praise. Rather, they expect the negative sentiments from the public to become more rational because of the apology and calm down sequentially. The analysis of Domino Pizza confirms the expectations. Peeples and Vaughn, (2010) adds that the number of factual tweets significantly inclined from 16.7 percent to 39.9 percent. Therefore, the case of Domino Pizza public apology calmed and reduced the amount of negative opinions and increased positive and facts in the Twitter conversations.
A study by Coombs, (2008) concludes that the best and the only approach to reduce the social media impact on the crisis are to integrate the social media into the crisis communication strategies and provide a dialogue monitoring on the social media. Claeys et.al (2012) harmonizes the fact that the brads that have the best public perception will be the one that will apply the online tools as their potential customers. Likewise, Young and Flowers (2012) evaluated and concluded that the effective leverage of the social media by Dominos was identical to the style used by the pranksters. That is, to transparently communicate the efforts of the company to solve the crisis. Finally, the company emerged from the viral media criticizes and still knowledgeable on the real face of crisis communication strategies in the practical age of social media. Peeples et.al (2010) asserts that the incident of Domino Pizza was a practical implication for crisis managers in the globalized business world. He puts that once a company experiences a crisis of bad news to the social media; they should respond with a quick reaction, apology and admit the mistakes appropriately. A study by Coombs, (2008) confirmed the positive effects of corporate apologies to the public in social media, YouTube and Twitter both in Korea and the U.S. secondly, the companies should engage in conversations with the social media during the official times and not just after a crisis hits the company. Lastly, based on the speed at which social media news spread, the company should be ready to respond within hours after the event, rather than within days.
By conducting an empirical analysis to the sentiments of the public in social media based on the crisis of Domino Pizza, the study will attempt to answer the following questions:1. How does the structure of the network determine the effectiveness of communication crisis solution strategy?
2. How can the company strategize to reduce the negative sentiments and increase positive sentiments of social media?
3. What are the temporal and spatial characteristics of diffusion influences strategic solutions of communication crisis in the corporate bad news?
This chapter provides a description of scope and methodology of this proposal. This chapter examines the scope of the research proposal and builds understanding of the research source of primary data and why the data will be adopted for the study. Likewise, the chapter will provide information of the sample data and method of collecting the data for the research study. The proposal methodology provides empirical explanations on how and why the study will employ a quantitative survey to answer the research questions. Furthermore, the methodology explanations provide a systemic approach to analysis of findings, conclusion and the implication sections that will be presented in the final stage of the research. The scope of the study focuses on strategies for managing communication crisis with reference to the strategies employed by Domino Pizza. The goal will be based on the strategies that were used by the company to solve the communication crisis on the basis of social media.The research will conduct a sample survey of various primary sources of information fro the analysis. First, the research will use online survey on the company website and corporate reports to establish the primary data. It is essential to note that online survey of data collection will be instrumental for the research provided the time and financial constraints attached to the study/. This proposal provides that the company website will provide primary data that would be reputable and enhance empirical analysis. Corporate reports on the strategies used by the company to manage the crisis will also provide primary information that will be significant for cross analysis. To establish the validity of the data collected, this section will provide data for cross comparison with the previous research that has been conducted in the same topic.Furthermore, this proposal will use live interviews from the professionals and officials from the company to provide primary data for analysis. Corbin and Strauss, (1998) explains that live interviews and phone interviews are a technology facilitated method of collecting data for analysis. It is based on the premise that recorded live interviews from the company officials, and professionals such as crisis managers that reacted to the incident through an interview in the social media cannot be distorted. This is a cheap method of collecting primary data using the technological advantages. The professional and company official interview records are present and easily accessible within the website of the company and other websites of the social media archives. Close examination of the URLs that the public used to post their comments and the company used to engage the customers will also be audited. The approach of auditing the URLs used by the company and its stakeholders will provide the direct reaction from the company that will primarily constitute the raw data for the analysis. Auditing to the URL postings will also provide statistical information of the percentages of the tweets, both positive and negative that came from the public. Likewise, statistical information will be computed based on the finding of the nature of public reaction after the response from the company and before the response from company officials. This will show the effectiveness or the ineffectiveness of the approach the company developed to restore their reputation and brand (Corbin and Strauss, 1998). Finally, the primary data that will be collected will provide evidential information on the strategies employed by Domino Pizza in curbing the communication crisis.
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Claeys, A., & Cauberghe, V. (2012). Crisis response and crisis timing strategies, two sides of the same coin. Public Relations Review, 38, 83-88.
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Peeples, A. & Vaughn, C. (2010). Domino’s “special” delivery: Going viral through social media (Parts A & B). Arthur W. Page Society case study competition in corporate communications. Retrieved December 31, 2012, from http://www.awpagesociety.com/insights/winning-case-studies/2010
Schiller, M. (2007, March 5). Crisis and the web: How to leverage the Internet when a brand takes a hit. Adweek, 48(10), 16.Weiss, T. (2009, April 22). Crisis management—Domino’s case study research. Trendsspotting Blog. Retrieved December 31, 2012, from http://www.trendsspotting.com/blog/?p=1061
Young, C. l., & Flowers, A. (2012). Fight viral with viral: A Case Study of Domino’s Pizza’s Crisis Communication Strategies. Case studies in strategic communication, 1, article 6.