Monday, April 20, 2009
Communicate this

Have you been following the Domino's disaster? You know, the 'employees-stick-cheese-up-nose-and-put-the-video-on-YouTube' one?

It's been fascinating to watch a modern-day, web-enabled PR scandal play out - from the initial video, through the oddly-delivered (no pun intended) YouTube response from the big man, to the subsequent field day had by the commentators.

One such commentator was Steve Rubel, popular blogger and digital strategist at Edelman. He Twittered about his appearance on Fox so I checked it out. And I watched it again. And I thought about it.

Is it me or does Steve's interview demonstrate the key problem that always occurs when PR people are asked to commentate? We spend our lives training people on how to articulate their messages to the press, but when we're asked to share our *own* opinion we struggle.

The Domino's interview on Fox is a brilliant example of this. You've got three people discussing what the company should do. Steve says they should 'communicate'. But that ain't going to solve their problem is it, say the others? They need to change some processes, maybe shake things up a little in the training programme (Pizza making 101: Don't fart on the salami), or install cameras in the kitchens?

Steve just says they should 'communicate'. Communicate what?

Herein lies the problem that will face every PR person at some time in their career. The client is facing a tough, time-sensitive situation and looks to you for help. They want to know what they should do. As a communications specialist, you're already naturally leaning towards you-know-what.

But remember, communication doesn't solve problems on its own. Maybe your best response would be "Fix the problem. Then let us know and we'll communicate to everyone how well you fixed it."

(Just as a side point, according to branding specialist Laura Ries, Domino's shouldn't worry as "the public forgets almost everything." Blimey, that's evil stuff. At least it gives Steve a chance to redeem himself with a little Google logic from, you know, *reality*...)