AstraZeneca dinged for inaccurate vaccine data in press release, productivity on collaborative tasks falters during WFH, and Citigroup bans Friday video calls

Also: Facebook shares tips for in-platform fundraising, NYC announces end to remote work for city employees, Goldman Sachs’ CEO responds to internal survey results, and more.

Hello, Communicators:

New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced an end to remote work for the city’s 80,000 municipal employees, who will be returning to their offices starting May 3.

“The move is meant to broadcast that New York City will soon be open for business, and to encourage private companies to follow suit—lifting the hopes of landlords whose skyscrapers have largely sat empty as office workers stayed home,” reports The New York Times. “‘We’re going to make it safe, but we need our city workers back in their offices where they can do the most to help their fellow New Yorkers,’ Mr. de Blasio said Tuesday. ‘And it’s also going to send a powerful message about this city moving forward.’”

Communicators at high-profile companies or organizations should take note of how De Blasio’s decision to reopen offices, and risk employee wellbeing, to “send a powerful message” hasn’t been well-received. Any decisions about your workforce, including returning to a physical office, should first and foremost be motivated by—and communicated around—the wellbeing of your employees.

AstraZeneca’s press release contradicted by U.S. officials on data error

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) released a statement yesterday morning claiming that data released by AstraZeneca around the effectiveness of its vaccine may include “outdated information.” The statement comes less than a day after AstraZeneca claimed its vaccine was highly effective.

The Verge reports:

The announcement may contribute to some unnecessary hesitancy around the AstraZeneca vaccine, Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID, said on Good Morning America this morning.

“This is really what you call an unforced error because the fact is, this is very likely a very good vaccine,” he said. “If you look at it the data, they really are quite good, but when they put it into the press release, it wasn’t completely accurate.”

Typically, disagreements between companies and the independent boards overseeing their trials don’t happen in public, clinical trials expert Eric Topol told The New York Times. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Topol, who also directs the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California.

Why It Matters:

Putting together a press release can be a timely, arduous and bureaucratic process. Make sure that no critical information is inaccurate or outdated before sending it off, especially if working to send it out with an accelerated turnaround. Push back on pressure to get your release out quickly and take an extra couple of hours, or have an extra couple of conversations, to ensure that all stakeholders sign off on the information contained therein.


The start of spring brings new opportunities for agency communicators across roles, organizations and industries to develop stronger relationships with their clients.

Ragan Communications and the Institute for Public Relations are conducting a brief survey on the relationship between PR agencies and their clients, which will be presented at the Ragan’s April 7 Media Relations & Measurement Conference and published in a report that will be launched in May 2021.


Please share your insights with us before the deadline on April 2, 2021.. The survey should take less than 10 minutes to complete and your responses will remain confidential. As a thank you for your time and insights, you will be entered into a drawing for one of two $50 gift cards.

Take our survey here.


Facebook says that users have raised over $5 billion through its donation tools on its main platform and Instagram.

Social Media Today reports:

[T]his is one of the bright spots for Facebook, and a key advantages of its connective efforts. Yes, there are concerns also associated with its scale, and the capacity for people to use such for nefarious means. But the opportunities that Facebook also provides can be significant, and can drive major benefits, in many ways, for people around the world.

Facebook also shared an infographic with tips for people hoping to maximize their fundraising efforts on the platform:

Image courtesy of Facebook.


Looking for more insight on how to address the current global crisis and lead your organization into a strong recovery?


Join Ragan’s Crisis Leadership Network to connect and brainstorm with peers, get the latest intelligence and research and start to strategize for the future of your organization.

Learn more about this exclusive membership here.


Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser announced that she is banning video calls on Fridays to combat employee burnout.

The Street reports:

The move will be called “Zoom-Free Fridays,” Fraser wrote in a memo which was sent to over 200,000 workers at Citigroup, Financial News reported.

“I know, from your feedback and my own experience, the blurring of lines between home and work and the relentlessness of the pandemic workday have taken a toll on our well-being,” Fraser added in her memo.

She called the continuation of current procedures “not sustainable.”

Communicators are reminded that any announcement around internal practices or workplace culture should always be sent to employees first and foremost. Additionally, craft leadership messaging to let employees know their feedback is heard, then align with that feedback by relating it to leadership’s personal experiences. This builds empathy, promotes greater talent retention and puts employees on your side.


Boston Consulting Group surveyed 12,000 employees to learn their thoughts on the future of remote work, and found that 56% of respondents maintained or improved productivity during COVID-19 through collaborative tasks.

Image courtesy of Boston Consulting Group

“To understand why, we dug more deeply into the data,” said BCG. “And we focused our analysis on collaborative tasks because, as our survey reveals, in this new remote or hybrid world, collaborative work seems harder and appears to generate the most concern among employers—many of whom assume teams need to meet in person to collaborate. We found four factors that correlate with employee perceptions of their productivity on collaborative tasks, whether working remotely or onsite: social connectivity, mental health, physical health, and workplace tools.”

Read the entire report here.


Last week, an internal survey conducted by junior bankers at Goldman Sachs found that entry-level employees are subjected to grueling 100-hour work weeks, demanding bosses and an unrelenting, toxic work environment. After the survey went viral, Goldman’s CEO David Solomon addressed the complaints.

CNBC reports:

Amid the allegations of the firm’s crushing workload, Solomon reiterated Goldman’s commitment to protected Saturdays, and pledged to take “further action.”

“We’re strengthening enforcement of the Saturday rule. We’re accelerating our efforts to hire new junior bankers across Investment Banking. … We’re also being more selective about business opportunities that we pursue, and we’re working to automate certain tasks in our business,” Solomon said, according to a transcript of the voice memo reviewed by CNBC.

When news of an internal crisis leaks out, senior leadership should always be the first to speak (not a spokesperson, as was the case when this story broke last week). Leadership should address the internal concerns with specific language and an actionable timeline for implementing any promised changes.


As the news cycle continues to rapidly shift and communicators grapple to create strategies that overcome content exhaustion and misinformation, it’s crucial to embrace new best practices grounded in measurement, data and insights that can both build engagement and boost brand awareness.

Learn how to build stronger relationships with journalists to tell your story, and measure the results at Ragan’s Media Relations & Measurement Virtual Conference on Wednesday, April 7.


Attendees will discover new and smart opportunities to overcome crisis challenges, pitch stories that reporters crave, better understand and deliver to target audiences through analytics and insights, enhance media relations efforts through the PESO model and brand journalism, prove the ROI of your efforts, and more.

Learn powerful insights and secrets from speakers at organizations including NAACP, PepsiCo, Goodwill, Pfizer, Hilton and Britannica Group.

Register for our event here.


We asked what GIF best expresses your feeling when a journalist agrees to coverage after the first follow-up pitch.

Some of you were inspired to celebrate:

Others were relieved and emotional:

And at least one of you was taken aback:

Is there a question you’d like to see asked? Let us know by tagging it with #DailyScoop.


Just checking in…where are you at with that weekly list of priorities this Wednesday, PR pros and communicators?

Let us know how you’re getting along with the week’s tasks under the hashtag #DailyScoop. We’ll share top responses in tomorrow’s roundup.


One Response to “AstraZeneca dinged for inaccurate vaccine data in press release, productivity on collaborative tasks falters during WFH, and Citigroup bans Friday video calls”

    Ronald Levy says:

    AstraZeneca needs new products as all major drug companies do, and Facebook needs more goodwill to protect not only its rear end but also its top people and bottom line. So if Facebook sponsors a big health research project by AstraZeneca, the result could be not only better health for America but for Facebook the benefit of millions of Americans being grateful and in some cases actually PRAYING for the success of Facebook’s and AstraZeneca’s research.

    Astra Zeneca this past year managed to hire one of the top anticancer researchers in the entire world, Dr. Anas Younes who used to be a colleague of the famed Dr. Andrew Zelenetz at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Even more Americans die of cancer than of Covid, and one in four of us is likely to be felled by cancer so we can imagine the potential for an anticancer research project earning national goodwill.

    Also is it crazy to hope than a VACCINE for cancer may be found? A top doctor at Stanford University has been looking for one, and experts at that level often go onto something else if progress in finding a vaccine isn’t encouraging.

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