The Ostrich Approach Doesn’t Work

Head in the sand

There’s been plenty of commentary around the Dominos pizza videos recently. For some insightful commentary, check out posts by Jessica Levco, Shel Holtz and, for a wonderfully succinct take on the lessons learned, Gerald Baron.

One important lesson from this, in both traditional and social media forums, is this:

The ostrich approach doesn’t work.

No, you don’t automatically have to respond to every negative story. Plenty of considerations come into play, which may mean that a purely reactive approach is suitable. However, when a compelling story breaks which speaks to a critical area of your business, and that story begins to gain traction, burying your head in the sand is unlikely to work.

In many cases a reactive approach does work. However, when an issue grows at the rate of this one, proactive action is more likely needed. It’s also perhaps not the best idea to go on the record that you’re not going to address the situation publicly so it doesn’t gain attention.

A few other lessons learned from this episode (identified by the folks above):

Establish your online presence BEFORE a crisis breaks
Not only does establishing your presence take some time that you may not have in an emergency, if you don’t have one established before an online crisis hits then you don’t have the presence and credibility established either. 

Be transparent in your response to crises 
Be honest and be up-front in your response, especially to online crises. Online audiences in particular have a low tolerance for being “messaged.”

If you’re going to respond, respond quickly
This doesn’t mean at the outset of the event; situations can evolve and change. However, once it becomes apparent that a response is needed, your advance crisis planning should let you respond quickly

Value your customers
Your customers can be your biggest advocates, or your biggest detractors. Customer service is part of your public relations effort. Ignore it at your peril. 

With all that said, it does appear at this point that Dominos responded fairly well in general. While there’s undoubtedly some short-term reputational damage, I suspect  that a relatively rapid and heartfelt response served its purpose.

What’s your take on  Domino’s response to this crisis?

3 Responses toThe Ostrich Approach Doesn’t Work

  • Dave,

    Very much agree with this post especially with the idea of responding quickly. I would add respond OFTEN. Now that companies can Tweet developments as a story occurs, it would be great to see the company handle a crisis in real time and post updates. Twitter is actually quite good at this. They have tons of growing pains, server issues, and are subject to hacking attacks, but they are great about relaying that information on their blog and later on Twitter. It makes me empathize with their problems and I don’t feel angry when the service is not operating perfectly.

  • Great point, Russell. Agreed.

Trackbacks & Pings

  • Hey Post-It: Why Haven’t You Posted This? « EOD: All in a Day’s Work :

    […] Hey Post-It: Why Haven’t You Posted This? Posted on June 15, 2009 by mikepilarz When a video surfaced on YouTube in April featuring Domino’s employees doing some rather disgusting things to a customers’ orders, it made all of us not only cringe, but reflect on how we, as communicators, might respond to a similar situation.  Plenty of bright folks have already weighed in with great advice on the lessons learned from that catastrophe. […]

    11 years ago