When pizzeria industry executives gather at the Hyatt Regency Chicago June 8-9 for the first Pizza Executive Summit, one of the hot topics for discussion will be the role of the Internet in a pizza company's marketing plan.
The recent challenges faced by one prominent pizza company because of the Internet, and that company's response, make the topic of Internet marketing even more timely for today's pizza executive, said Paul Barron, executive vice president of NetWorld Alliance, the organizer of the Pizza Executive Summit.
NetWorld Alliance is the publisher of Pizza Marketplace.
"The incident with Domino's could have brought the company to its knees, but it didn't," Barron said, referring to the two former employees of a restaurant in North Carolina who posted a video of themselves tampering with customers' food to the Internet site YouTube. The video quickly went viral and was viewed by millions of people.
"Domino's didn't issue a press release or hire a crisis management team," Barron said. "Instead, they fought back using the very tools by which they had been attacked."
Domino's president Patrick Doyle filmed a video for YouTube apologizing for the incident and outlining the actions the company planned to take, which included closing the restaurant where the incident took place and bringing charges against the employees. The pizza chain also opened a Twitter account to get information out to customers and employees.
By April 23, a little more than a week after the incident, Doyle's video had been viewed more than 600,000 times. The company's Twitter account now has nearly 1,500 followers.
And while it's too early to judge the long-term impact the incident may have had on the company, by most accounts it seems to have been forgotten. Public relations professionals, while critical of how long it took for Domino's to issue its initial response, gave the company high marks for its efforts once the response got underway.
"This incident, and Domino's response to it, will serve as a lesson to operators for years to come," Barron said. "Clearly, those who master the use of the Internet as a marketing tool will have a competitive edge."
Half of sessions to focus on the Internet
The theme of the Pizza Executive Summit is "Evolution of the Modern Pizza Business." The invitation-only event is free to qualified attendees.
The summit will be structured around a series of four collaborative sessions. Each session will last 90 minutes and consist of a specific topic followed by a small group discussion.
Two of the four scheduled sessions will highlight the role of the Internet in operating a pizza business.
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Attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the upcoming Pizza Marketplace Industry Study, valued at $595. The study includes information about the top pizzeria chains around the country, an overview about trends in commodities prices, commentaries from industry experts and the results of an in-depth operator survey.
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