Employee emails worsen Boeing’s reputation, Taco Bell offers $100K salaries, and Carnival bans offensive clothing

Also: Remembering Harold Burson, Booking.com welcomes 2020 in style, H-E-B crowned as consumers’ top grocer, and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

 Booking.com is helping people achieve their New Year’s resolutions with 20 themed ”Resolution Suites” in New York City. You can book a two-night stay for Jan. 17–19 in the one- and two-bedroom Manhattan apartments starting Jan. 13 at noon Eastern time for the low price of $20.20.

Each suite contains the backdrop and items to inspire a specific resolution, including spending more time with your pet, getting into shape, learning how to code or mastering the art of cooking and baking.

Image courtesy of Booking.com.

 Communicators looking to hone their skills might enjoy the “resolution suites” aimed at expanding your network, building a business or cultivating photography skills that can boost your social media content.

Image courtesy of Booking.com.

 The suites are part of the travel company’s New Year’s campaign, which also includes 20 prizes of $2,020 to the most “creative and inspirint travel-related resolutions” and accommodation advice to fulfill your goals for the year:

The tactics showcase fun and creative ways you can highlight your organization’s offerings with a timely trend.

Here are today’s top stories:

Taco Bell announces $100,000 salaries

The fast-food chain is testing higher manager salaries at selected company-owned locations in the Midwest and Northeast this year—an increase of $30,000 to $50,000, based on current management salary ranges in those stores. Along with boosting some leaders’ salaries, Taco Bell said employees at company-owned stores can also receive at least 24 hours of paid sick leave each year, which previously was only available to management.

MarketWatch reported:

“We are constantly exploring new ways to invest in our people, enhance morale and boost recruitment and retention,” Ferril Onyett, Taco Bell’s senior director of global training and international HR, told MarketWatch in an emailed statement. Managers have “a huge impact” on the restaurant performance, customer experience, and “team member satisfaction,” she added.

… “We hope we can evaluate the effect of increased salaries on manager and team morale, restaurant performance, recruitment and retention, and customer experience,” Onyett said.

Why you should care: Your front-line employees are often the first (and sometimes the only) interaction consumers make with your organization, so it’s important to find and retain top talent that can deliver your mission and boost your brand image. Finding and keeping the best workers requires competitive salaries and benefits, but don’t forget to nuture your company culture. That’s another big reason employees stay (or leave) organizations.


Harold Burson, founder of Burson-Marsteller and called “the century’s most influential PR figure,” has died. He was 98 years old.

Memorial services will be held in New York City and at the University of Mississippi. In lieu of flowers, Burson’s family asks those wanting to celebrate their father’s life—and to ensure that his teachings endure—to make a donation to the Harold Burson Legacy Scholarship Fund at the School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi.

Friends, colleagues and “Burson-Persons” worldwide are invited to leave a comment, an anecdote or a note of remembrance at the following email: mmburson99@gmail.com.


 H-E-B dethroned Trader Joe’s to become the top grocer in the United States, dunnhumby recently reported in its Retailer Preference Index. Amazon, Market Basket, Wegmans Food Markets, Costco, Aldi, Sam’s Club, Walmart and Publix rounded out the top 10.

Image courtesy of dunnhumby.

 The survey found that relevance and convenience pushed the top grocers into consumers’ hearts, with convenience becoming the most important factor in customers’ choosing where to shop.

Image courtesy of dunnhumby.

Carnival Cruise Line’s new dress code

 The cruise line has banned clothing that carries “any message that may be considered offensive or contain nudity, profanity, sexual innuendo/suggestions.” Passengers’ clothing also cannot “promote negative ethnic or racial, commentary, or hatred or violence in any form.”

 The Washington Post reported:

“At Carnival, we want to make sure that all of our guests feel comfortable when cruising with us, and that includes being around guests wearing clothing with inappropriate or threatening images or language,” said Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen in an email. “Like other cruise lines, we have long had some basic clothing guidelines in place, and our guests respect them and understand we are a family-focused business.”

Why it matters: Inclusivity is an important consideration for any organization—not just those who are “family-focused.” Measures to increase inclusivity can include making social media content more accessible for those with hearing or sight limitations, finding ways to welcome and involve employees of all backgrounds, and limiting ways that your products and services might be featured negatively. In Carnival’s case, a viral photo of a passenger lounging on the Lido deck in an offensive shirt doesn’t bode well for reputation management.


 Subaru Forester’s newest edition is making the rounds online, but not for its features. Instead, the “Forester Ultimate Customised Kit Special” is racking up snark on Twitter because of the edition’s acronym.

Many are wondering if the name is unintentionally crass, or if it’s an attention-seeking move. What do you think? Share your thoughts under the hashtag #MorningScoop.

Boeing’s reputation dinged by internal emails

 The aerospace manufacturer’s lastest PR crisis involves hundreds of emails between employees that were delivered to congressional investigators on Thursday. The messages contained conversations about software and other issues with the 737 Max flight simulators—the model involved in 2018 and 2019 crashes that killed 346 people. The emails also include marketing employees cheering the decision to not require simulator training for the 737 Max planes.

The New York Times reported:

“I still haven’t been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year,” one of the employees said in messages from 2018, apparently in reference to interactions with the Federal Aviation Administration.

… In another set of messages, employees questioned the design of the Max and even denigrated their own colleagues. “This airplane is designed by clowns, who are in turn supervised by monkeys,” an employee wrote in an exchange from 2017.

After the messages were made public, Boeing issued a mea culpa, The New York Times reported:

“We regret the content of these communications, and apologize to the F.A.A., Congress, our airline customers and to the flying public for them,” Boeing added. “The language used in these communications, and some of the sentiments they express, are inconsistent with Boeing values, and the company is taking appropriate action in response. This will ultimately include disciplinary or other personnel action, once the necessary reviews are completed.”

Why it’s important: The emails do nothing to help Boeing as it continues to grapple with its crisis response, because they showcase a troubling company culture and lack of regard for the safety of its products. Workforce culture can be a crucial boost or nail in the coffin of your reputation management strategy, so don’t let it be an afterthought. Instead, align your culture with your organization’s mission, and make sure all employees are on the same page. The emails can also serve as a reminder not to put in writing anything that you wouldn’t want on the front page of a newspaper.


 We asked how you celebrate your PR successes, and more than half of you (57%) crow about their wins on social media. A quarter celebrate with office parties, and nearly 11% enter awards programs. Only 7% write press releases.


How are you thinking about “fake news” and disinformation in 2020? Is it a bigger concern for you this year than it was last year?

Please share your thoughts online or in the comments, using our hashtag #MorningScoop.


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One Response to “Employee emails worsen Boeing’s reputation, Taco Bell offers $100K salaries, and Carnival bans offensive clothing”

    Ronaldnlevy says:

    This Boeing report suggests that emails from employees complaining about their employer “showcase a lack of regard for the safety of its products.” But ALL employers have some employees who denigrate the company. Some Americans even denigrate America!

    So let’s look at the evidence and common sense. “This airplane is designed by clowns,” says an unhappy employee, “who are in turn supervised by monkeys.” Should we believe that Boeing planes, flown by hundreds of millions before these accidents, “were deigned by monkeys? ” So all the airline experts who bought the plane, and all the government engineering experts worldwide who approved the plane, approved a plane designed by clowns—does that sound true or more like exaggeration and name-calling?

    Even at America’s great PR firms—aggregations of brilliant PR experts and technicians entrusted with many billions every year by some of the world’s most respected and successful managers—would some employees exaggerate like this and enjoy doing defamation of character?

    And “lack of regard for the safety of its products?” So the airlines, governments and millions of passengers were all fooled but the complainer is telling the truth? And the complainers want people to believe Boeing executives had “a lack of regard for safety” even though their own lives and livings depended on that safety?

    ANY company can be a victim of such defamation of character which is why PR wisdom is to not just be prepared for such accusations but to do Preventive PR to make them less credible. How? By making the company known for not just what it makes but also what it does to protect our lives.

    Cancer kills one in every four of us. So you may win over 200 million American fans if they know your company is supporting Lymphoma Research Foundation and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Even if employees, unhappy with themselves, try saying that your designers are clowns, your managers are monkeys and that you don’t care about safety including your own, judge whether the public is likely to believe this if the public already knows that you are backing increasingly successful research to protect our lives.

    Just as kids don’t throw rocks at the ice cream truck, the public recognizes that there may be something wrong with weirdo accusers who try throwing rocks at our great institutions. Accusers are much less credible calling organizations bad after PR has helped us to recognize them as good and maybe a blessing to our lives.