Every day, I encounter a new challenge to the idea that things can and should be open and real.

Be it social, political, or personal, serious or trivial -- every time, I ponder the implications.

I hope you'll join me in the conversation!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Reinstituting Trust

I am one of the last folks you will find crying crocodile tears over PR crises in big corporations; that’s because usually it seems to be a result of something dangerous or unethical they’ve been hiding. But I do acknowledge the difference between sabotage and corruption. A very big difference.

The YouTube video of Domino’s employees tampering with the sanitation of the food went viral this week, and my first reaction was simply to think, “Whoa, Domino’s is screwed.”

In this day and age anyone can use social media for good or for ill. Ill is exemplified by the recent Domino’s incident, when two immature – that’s the right word -- employees (they are in their 30s) manufactured an image of the food chain knowingly serving contaminated food. Once a visual image of something is out there, it is very hard to correct or change.

I keep thinking about the movie “Doubt” where Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s character used the idea of letting feathers out of a pillow, and then being asked to put them all back in once they have been scattered by the wind. All the intention in the world to undo the deed is challenged severely by the reality of the consequential damage.

But then here comes Domino’s. Heck if they didn’t turn it all on its head by “responding at the flashpoint” and, my favorite analysis, “reinstituting the trust where it was lost.” The company went to YouTube themselves and outlined its response to the crisis and its expectations about change going forward.

The directness and swift action of the company was impressive. And their refusal to let a couple of goofballs have the upper hand is pretty cool. After firing the employees, the company even issued warrants for their arrests on food tampering charges. Going on the Internet, speaking directly to the consumer about what the problem was and how the company is addressing it both now and in the future – that’s about as straightforward as it gets.

I may still not be in the mood for delivery pizza for a while. Just sayin’.


Ed said...

You know, as I read this post I was struck by how different this PR nightmare was from another corporate PR nightmare that happened the same week - #AMAZONFAIL, which blew up on Twitter. All the GLBT books being classified as adult, and losing their search rankings. Granted, it hit on Easter weekend, and that made it tougher, but largely, Amazon met it with silence. Then they put out a brief statement, which I found entirely plausible, if I'm honest. But they didn't address the trust issue with the community.

Dominos did address the trust issue. I've read about the original videos, but I haven't watched them - don't want to think about it that much. But I did watch Dominos' YouTube response, and I liked it. Just goes to show you can take a PR nightmare and do something positive with it.

You made me connect the two items.

The EDG said...

Thanks, Ed. Great comparison. The Amazon thing was just bananas, wasn't it? I agree, you know they have the option to address it however they choose, and their method may have stopped the drama, but it didn't do much to reinstitute trust.

I like these two situations side by side. Ending the conversation is not the same as restoring lost trust. I think that is true in both professional circumstances, and personal. How many of us have had personal blow ups that eventually both parties agree to stop talking about, but the original problem is unresolved....