Do You Like Dominos? Cooking up a new PR Campaign … and a New Pizza

February 1, 2010 by  
Filed under All, PR

So if you remember, Domino’s faced a big PR fiasco last year when two employees made a video of themselves doing unspeakable acts to a pizza before they delivered it to a customer. While they were lucky enough to learn about it from a blogger/friend (not because they were monitoring the Web, please note), they chose to sit on it instead of acting quickly, resulting in nearly 2 million views of the video on YouTube, major media coverage and a public backlash.

Well, Domino’s did respond, but a little too late to repair the damage done. They created a Twitter account to answer people’s questions and also put up a video of the CEO on YouTube apologizing for the incident, noting the employees had been fired and explaining that is not what goes on behind the doors of Domino’s.

Fast forward about 8 months later. Domino’s has taken a hard look at itself in light of what happened last year. They’ve decided to be honest about their failings and are trying to regain consumer confidence in their established brand.

So when you think of Domino’s pizza, do you think yuck or yum? Turns out most people think yuck J. Domino’s took a look at what people were saying about their pizza offline and online and heard things like “your crust tastes like cardboard” and “your sauce tastes like ketchup.” And what do you know, Domino’s actually listened!

They’ve put together a new campaign courtesy of the creative folks at Crispin, Porter + Bogusky (of Burger King’s “king” ads and other very innovative and different campaigns) called “The Pizza Turnaround”. The campaign acknowledges their criticism and shows how they’ve reacted: creating an entirely new pizza from scratch.

The Pizza Turnaround

They’ve put together two great little YouTube videos, one showing the company listening in to focus groups and coming up with a new pizza, and the second, my favorite, with the head chef showing up at the doors of some of the harsher focus group participants and inviting them to try the new pizza. Bold and real.

At the Door of Our Harshest Critics

I LOVE it! I wish I could get more companies to follow in their footsteps. They’ve turned a really negative incident with the employee video into a catalyst for change for the company. People can always identify with you when you acknowledge failings (we all have them) and try to fix them. I think this will be a turnaround for Domino’s … well, so long as the pizza is actually good. I haven’t tried it yet.

Oh, and by the way, I am one of the few people who genuinely liked Domino’s pizza the way it was :). Yea ketchup sauce!

What do you think of Domino’s tactics? Smart or stupid?

(Some) PR People Are Annoying (written by a PR person)

April 19, 2009 by  
Filed under All, Featured, PR

Public relations for hotelsOK, let me start by saying I am a PR person. And there are certainly plenty of us out there who know what we’re doing and are making great strides for our clients and companies. But good god, there are still an awful lot of us who give the rest of us a bad rap, who don’t understand PR but who think they do.

I wrote this post after doing a media interview on the site of a local shopping center. The “PR person” for the center sauntered up during the middle of the interview to inform the journalist that she was “supposed” to check in with them and that no footage of the shopping center was to be used. Hello? You don’t want publicity about your shopping center? Isn’t that your job?

Let me say that I do understand that media isn’t always nice, so we do have to be cautious about what they do, but to say that under no circumstances was video of the shopping center to be used seems ridiculous to me. She could have stood there and listened to the interview to know it was completely innocuous. I come from the camp of thinking of media as friends rather than always assuming the worst. I think an attitude of constant mistrust will not get you far when working with media.

Here’s what else I don’t like about (some) PR people:

1) Not getting back to journalists in a timely fashion.

2) Charging an arm and a leg and not getting anything besides a local TV talk show appearance for a client.

3) Being overly controlling about every word said about your company or client. For example, insisting you be a part of every interview your client has with the media. Here’s a tip: Journalists don’t like that and most will not want to work with you again if they can avoid it.

4) PR Speak – Please, no subjective language (unique, very, excellent, truly) in a press release. It’s up to the reader (the journalist) to make a judgement about what we’re saying based on the facts we present.

5) A lack of news judgement. Don’t pitch a journalist on something that is not newsworthy! They will forever not pay attention to you, whereas if you bring them something newsworthy every time, when you call, they will answer and better yet — listen. Isn’t that our goal?

I’ve certainly made some of these mistakes in my career, but I learned from them and changed my behavior. I wrote this post in the hopes that more of us will do the same. What bugs you about PR people? How can we improve to better represent our industry? What makes for a good PR person?

Sometimes It’s About Doing What’s Right

March 31, 2009 by  
Filed under All, Featured, PR

2119535732_caffe880ae1I’ve had a couple of conversations and insights this week that led me to this blog post. In marketing and PR, we all, myself included, get hung up on making every perfect move based on what will or won’t reach and resonate with your target audience. But sometimes, it’s OK to just step away from the microscope and make a decision based on your heart.

For example, I was talking with a client recently whose company generally does not target women, yet she had a booth at a major women’s event targeting business owners. I was completely perplexed. 

When I asked her “Why would you participate in this event when you aren’t looking for female customers?” her answer was obvious, but I’d totally missed it. As a woman business owner, she felt it was important to support and assist other women just starting out. Of course. It was just the right thing to do.

Another example is traditional advertising. I am forever harping on the decline of the effectiveness of advertising in traditional media. But, here’s a point we often miss: if you love your local paper, be it a community weekly, your local business journal or your alternative newsweekly, then advertise in it. Help it out in these trying times! If you don’t want it to go away, support it, even if it’s not the best bang for your buck.

Does your child’s sports team need a sponsor for uniforms? Sure, you may not be targeting parents of 8 year olds, but won’t that feel good to help?

And the real clencher here is that even if you make some decisions based on your heart and not the numbers, I bet you’ll find that you will have endeared yourself to your target audience even more. It shows you’re a good company who supports its community and important causes, and that might go even further than any dollars you could spend.