From the editor’s desk: June 2009
Laura AikenFeatures Business and Operations Health & Safety
Brave new world
Anyone can get their 15 minutes of fame now, much to the disgust of
Domino’s patrons who witnessed the two YouTube bandits and their
shenanigans. This is frightening on a number of levels beyond the reach
of food tampering. It proved what a publicity nightmare the new social
media realm can be.
Anyone can get their 15 minutes of fame now, much to the disgust of Domino’s patrons who witnessed the two YouTube bandits and their shenanigans. This is frightening on a number of levels beyond the reach of food tampering. It proved what a publicity nightmare the new social media realm can be.
The two stars of the video were identified in news reports as Michael Setzer and Kristy Hammonds. Hammonds is a registered sex offender with FamilyWatchdog.us, convicted of sexual battery in June 2008. The PR crisis unfolds.
Both have been charged with felony food tampering. However, the offending video went viral, reaching millions, noted Wall Street Journal blogger Raymund Flandez. He pointed to a new national study done by HCD Research that showed 65 per cent of Domino’s current customers were less likely to be patrons after viewing the video.
Hopefully the punishment for Hammonds and Setzer sets a level of deterrence for all employees who might consider embarrassing their employer on a world stage, but sentencing hasn’t outright ended any crime.
Ask yourself if this episode could have happened in your store. Ask yourself how much you trust those who manage your business in your absence. Now is the time to examine whether or not your business is vulnerable to going viral in a very bad way because social media is definitely here to stay.
Social media is hot, and the momentum keeps building. This is clearly exemplified by Pizza Hut’s decision to hire a “Twintern.” The “twinternship” is based out of Dallas and will last 10 to 12 weeks.
According to the job posting on Yum!’s website: “The intern will act as a fully integrated member of the PR team and will focus on new and emerging social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and others.”
By all rights, the emerging new media is a valid and exciting new way to connect with customers, but it’s still in the exploration stages.
Unfortunately Domino’s was granted the opportunity to set a significant precedent for how to deal with a public relations crisis resulting from it. The company tackled the medium in its own forum, apologizing on YouTube and handling it over Twitter. The aftermath has provided lessons for everyone in marketing, although much of the discussion has centred on how Domino’s has handled the crisis, little on how to prevent it.
Social media, as defined by Wikipedia (which is a social media platform itself), is simply information content generated by people that creates a mass dialogue. The entry further states, in discussing the difference between traditional and new media: “Industrial media is held to account to society for the content quality and consequences of their activities, in terms of the values of public interest, social responsibility and editorial independence. Social media is so far not accountable for their publishing activities.”
It seems we are in era that should revisit the work of Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian who coined the term “the medium is the message.” His writings theorized that different media forms affect people’s judgments in different ways. Fundamentally, he sought to show that each new media that came along in society had a unique ability to alter the way people viewed the world. The medium, whether it was television or newspapers, delivered the same message with different effects. I am an extremely curious witness to how social media is going to continue to change the world. Without a doubt, and for better or worse, it will.
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