CDC updates COVID testing guidance, November quit rate breaks records, and Airbnb fights discrimination on its platform

Also: Pepsi gives away Crystal Pepsi for 30th anniversary, Ford ramps up electric pickup production, and more.

Hello, communicators:

Pepsi announced it will bring back Crystal Pepsi to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the colorless soft drink. The company launched a contest to give away limited quantities of the long defunct beverage to Twitter users who share photos of themselves from the ‘90s:

“Since 2022 marks the 30-year anniversary of Crystal Pepsi, we wanted to do something extra special to celebrate and reward the passionate fans who have been clamoring online for its return,” Pepsi vice president of marketing Todd Kaplan said in a statement shared with USA Today.

Like Planter’s “nutstalgia” giveaway last December, Pepsi’s contest highlights how nostalgia can be a powerful marketing tool, even if a product is no longer in production.

Here are today’s top stories:

CDC explains its updated COVID-19 guidance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says that people who test positive for COVID-19 should wait to test again until the end of their five-day isolation period, responding to pressure form outside medical experts who urged the agency to include a testing component in its recently shortened isolation timeline. The CDC urged those who test positive after five days to continue isolating for 10 days, and those who test negative to continue wearing a mask outside the home for 10 days.

CNN reports:

The CDC says the changes aim to “focus on the period when a person is most infectious. … These updated recommendations also facilitate individual social and well-being needs, return to work, and maintenance of critical infrastructure.”

The White House defended the CDC on Tuesday, calling the recommendations “based on the science” and not based on “a clear communications plan.” “The CDC is offering its updated guidance in real time of a fast moving and changing pandemic environment,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins at a news briefing.

The CDC also changed its recommended COVID-19 booster timeline for those who received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, urging them to get a third dose five months after the second vaccine shot instead of six.

NPR reports:

“As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to update our recommendations to ensure the best possible protection for the American people,” [CDC Director Rochelle Walensky] said. “Today’s recommendations ensure people are able to get a boost of protection in the face of omicron and increasing cases across the country, and ensure that the most vulnerable children can get an additional dose to optimize protection against COVID-19.”

Why it matters:

In a time when shifting CDC guidelines are used as fodder for spreading misinformation, the agency’s statements illustrate how sharing the intention or “why” behind a change in your messaging can act as preventative damage control against detractors who question your motives. Psaki’s defense of the new guidelines also highlights the fact that a clear communications plan is not always possible in the midst of a crisis, as fresh data and other variables can change without warning.

In such instances, your partners and organizations can be a crucial resource for sharing more context around your strategies and decisions.


A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that more than 4.5 million people quit their jobs this past November, the largest number in the past two decades. The hospitality industry saw the greatest number of workers leave in November at 6.1%, followed by health care, transportation, warehousing and utilities.

“People who quit are taking other jobs, not leaving the workforce, chief economist at the Economic Policy Institute Heidi Shierholz tweeted. “On net, the labor market is gaining a ton of jobs every month.”

These numbers show that “The Great Resignation” is not limited to one sector or industry, and is not the taboo messaging topic it was at the start at the pandemic. If you are in a business beset with resignations, don’t hesitate to craft external messaging that emphasizes how the reduced workforce will affect business operations and the customer experience.

Be sure to reaffirm your commitments and values, both to customers and your remaining workforce, while sharing measures that your organization will take to honor those commitments despite the loss.

Check out the full report here.


If you’re looking to further your understanding of your industry to navigate what’s ahead in 2022, lend us a hand—and help yourself and your peers identify shared benchmarks in areas such as budgets, team structure, ESG and DE&I efforts, and more. Participate in Ragan Communications Leadership Council’s 2022 Benchmark Survey, a comprehensive look at how to negotiate budgets with your executives, how to best reach deskless workers and foster culture among a hybrid workforce, and more.

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By taking part, you’ll be entered to win one of three $100 gift cards. All who complete the survey will receive a full report on the findings. Responses are anonymous.

Survey takers will receive an executive summary of the findings.


Ford announced plans to nearly double production of its upcoming F-150 Lightning pickup truck to satisfy the reservations drivers have already placed for the new vehicle. The company said it plans to produce enough vehicles to honor its nearly 200,000 reservations by 2023 and will have the capacity to produce 600,000 battery electric vehicles within two years.

According to its press release:

“With nearly 200,000 reservations, our teams are working hard and creatively to break production constraints to get more F-150 Lightning trucks into the hands of our customers,” said Kumar Galhotra, president of The Americas & International Markets Group, Ford Motor Company. “The reality is clear: People are ready for an all-electric F-150 and Ford is pulling out all the stops to scale our operations and increase production capacity.”

“The pride and quality [United Auto Workers] members are putting into building the iconic Ford F-150 Lightning is evident in the high pre-production demand for the new F-150 Lightning truck,” said Chuck Browning, UAW vice president. “UAW members are leading the way in doubling the amount of vehicles Ford is producing for this game-changing model of our legendary union-built vehicle.”

By downplaying the fact that it will not have all Lightning reservations ready at launch, Ford’s announcement demonstrates how your messaging can reframe operational challenges as opportunities. It also emphasizes the importance of crafting message that celebrates your employees, and earns the support of the groups (such as labor unions) that represent them when committing to increased productivity and operations.

Announcing the PR Daily Leadership Network

PR Daily is launching the PR Daily Leadership Network, a unique membership group from Ragan Communications offering peer-to-peer advisory and team training along with a unique slate of resources and events to help public relations professionals break through the noise, increase their visibility and forge meaningful connections.

The Network provides daily insights and coverage on a range of topics including media relations, social media, measurement, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, branding, thought leadership and crisis communications.

“The fast pace of change coupled with the demand on public relations professionals to protect and sometimes defend their company’s reputation make it imperative for leaders to tap into the wisdom of other communicators and continue to learn and grow,” says Diane Schwartz, CEO of Ragan Communications. “The PR Daily Leadership Network provides the answers but also encourages members to question the status quo and push for positive change.”

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Airbnb anonymizes guest names in Oregon to reduce racial bias

The online vacation rental platform announced that it will begin displaying guest’s initials to hosts in Oregon, anonymizing the guest’s full name until a booking request is confirmed. The policy comes as part of a voluntary settlement with three women who alleged that the site allowed hosts to discriminate against Black users, and deny their bookings, in violation with Oregon’s public accommodation laws.

The lawsuit was bolstered by a 2016 Harvard Business School field study that found that guests with “distinctly African-American names are roughly 16% less likely to be accepted than identical guests with distinctively White names.”

According to Airbnb’s press release:

Airbnb has no tolerance for discrimination, and we have taken a number of steps to help fight bias. Some of these initiatives include requiring all Hosts and guests to agree to the Airbnb Community Commitment, which requires everyone who uses Airbnb to treat others without discrimination and with respect. We changed the way we display profile photos to encourage more objective bookings. And to help us more effectively identify and work to eliminate disparities in how our community members experience Airbnb, we’ve also launched Project Lighthouse, a privacy-centric research methodology, in partnership with Color Of Change and guidance from civil rights and privacy experts.

While we have made progress, we have much more to do and continue working with our Hosts and guests, and with civil rights leaders to make our community more inclusive.

What it means:

While Airbnb’s statement cites past commitments to combat bias and discrimination on its platform, those efforts have failed to achieve the success that would prevent lawsuits. Were the company to frame its Oregon policy as a pilot program that with the potential to be more widely implemented in the future, or share more details about its work with Project Lighthouse, this announcement could create a more sustainable strategy for the brand’s purpose work.


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