Consumers question PR pros’ integrity, United courts Gen Z with discounts, and KFC offers a ‘date’ with the Colonel

Also: Your caffeine vehicle of choice,  9/11 tributes, Tide’s TV ads drive online conversations, Uber lays off 400+, and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

Today marks the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and some organizations are sharing remembrances and memorials.

Communicators who want to join the conversation should approach the anniversary with emotional intelligence and deference to the loss and sacrifice of the victims and their survivors, as well as first responders.

A marketing message is a poor choice for addressing an event that reminded us that there is more to life than profits and showed us the true nature of the American spirit.

How are you remembering 9/11? Share your thoughts through the hashtag #MorningScoop.

Here are today’s top stories:

Uber lays off hundreds  

On Tuesday, the ride-hailing company announced its next round of layoffs—this time, 435 employees (8% of Uber’s workforce) were fired. The announcement comes less than two months after Uber cut a third of its marketing team.

The layoffs were accompanied by a side of PR that attempted to put a strong face to the company’s continuing struggles and downsizing.

The Verge reported:

“Our hope with these changes is to reset and improve how we work day to day—ruthlessly prioritizing, and always holding ourselves accountable to a high bar of performance and agility,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. “While certainly painful in the moment, especially for those directly affected, we believe that this will result in a much stronger technical organization, which going forward will continue to hire some of the very best talent around the world.”

Why you should care: Organizational transformations, especially when they involve layoffs, are tough to communicate. Pull out a page from your crisis response handbooks to ensure that employees are in the loop from the beginning and that your messages are transparent, both internally and externally.

Related reading:


MEASURED THOUGHTS

Public opinion about the ethics underpinning media outlets and the morals of PR pros are perhaps linked.

A new study for Bospar reveals that many consumers have a similar view about the state of the media and the role of PR in creating that distrust. Though 95% of respondents said they were troubled by the current state of media, and many see a problem with the ethics of these industries.

KFC announces Colonel Sanders dating game

The fast-food chain’s string of celebrities portraying its iconic founder, Colonel Harlan Sanders, has earned KFC headlines and social media buzz many times over. Now, the chain is leaning into its oddball brand voice by offering consumers the chance to date “the Colonel” virtually:

Polygon reported:

I Love You Colonel Sanders! A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator will put players in control of a “promising culinary student” who’s studying alongside a young Colonel Sanders. While looking for love, but you’ve got to make it through culinary school, too. If you’re lucky, Colonel Sanders might even take you on as a business partner. Of the nine characters, there’s also a dog (who is also a professor at culinary school, naturally).

KFC says there are multiple hours of gameplay, a secret ending, and recipes. There are also cooking battles, 11 herbs and spices, and plenty of “cute miniature food.” The listing also reminds potential players a few times that yes, KFC did really make this game.

Why it matters: Embracing pop culture and leaning into a sassy—or just weird—brand voice can give you time in the spotlight. If done correctly and fitting with the rest of your PR and marketing initiatives, it can also endear consumers and make them more ardent fans. Don’t be afraid of launching a goofy idea or posting silly messages, provided it doesn’t seem that your social media and marketing teams are trying too hard.

Related reading:


 TACTICALLY SPEAKING

Tide, which made a splash over its Super Bowl LII commercials, is looking to agitate conversation again by fomenting debate over which night is best for doing laundry.

It partnered with NBC and the National Football League and will publish ads featuring celebrities from both organizations over the next several weeks. Current ads are short and snappy, showcasing a debate among former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, “The Voice” host Gwen Stefani, and characters from “Superstore”:

Tide is encouraging conversation under the hashtag #LaundryNight. How can you use your marketing messages to generate a conversation online?

 United Airlines offers discount to Gen Z travelers

 The airline is offering consumers ages 18 to 22 a discount of up to 10% for domestic and certain international flights booked before Dec. 31. There are a few catches: Eligible consumers have to be a member of United’s frequent traveler program, MileagePlus, and must book flights through the airline’s app.

USA Today reported:

“The reason why we’re doing this is we’re really interested in starting a relationship with newer, younger customers,” Will Ellingson, principal of planning and integration for MileagePlus, told USA TODAY.

United will also offset carbon emissions for the first 25,000 passengers who fly through its promotion—a move catering to Gen Z consumers’ focus on sustainability and other environmental and social issues.

Chicago Business Journal reported:

The timing of United’s Gen Z promotion is not coincidental. It comes as the college football season is kicking into high gear. United this fall has added point-to-point flying to its schedule for select markets where major college football games are being played. The promotion also comes as the carrier has expanded its selection of complimentary economy class snacks to include Lotus Biscoff cookies, along with stroopwafels and pretzels.

Why it matters: Encouraging brand loyalty from young customers could win your organization longstanding consumer relationships. Make sure your promotions targeting Gen Z appeal to both their pocketbooks and ideals.

Related reading


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked you which caffeinated beverage gives you the energy to write all those press releases and social media posts. Most respondents favor coffee.

There are 6% who say they don’t consume caffeine at all. We can’t decide if they don’t know what their missing or they’re just genetically superior to us coffee-guzzlers.

Hats off to you, however you get through the day.


SOUNDING BOARD

Influencer fraud is estimated to cost the industry $1.3 billion a year. Is that risk worth taking, or will this marketing tactic eventually fade in popularity?

 

 

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