Ernst & Young slammed for sexist seminar, musicians protest Amazon’s ICE ties, and content creators tap into the customer journey

Also: Google changes search algorithm (again), Twitter’s CEO jabs at Zuckerberg, tips for avoiding the social media time suck, and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

Accounting firm Ernst & Young is facing harsh criticism over a training seminar delivered to some female executives in June 2018.

The seminar, which took place at the height of the #MeToo movement, did nothing to address harassment in the workplace, but instead tried to instruct women on how to assimilate in a male-dominated workplace.

The seminar, called Power-Presence-Purpose, was full of outdated advice for professional women.

HuffPost reported:

One section of the document is devoted to women’s appearance: Be “polished,” have a “good haircut, manicured nails, well-cut attire that complements your body type,” it states on Page 36. But then, a warning: “Don’t flaunt your body ― sexuality scrambles the mind (for men and women).”

The most important thing women can do is “signal fitness and wellness,” the presentation continues.

Ernst & Young has vociferously defended the seminar content.

HuffPost continued:

“We are proud of our long-standing commitment to women and deeply committed to creating and fostering an environment of inclusivity and belonging at EY, anything that suggests the contrary is 100% false,” the firm said in its statement to HuffPost.

Though it’s appalling to many that some companies are still telling their female employees not to upset the boys, communicators should be quick to point out the reputational risk these kinds of unchallenged stereotypes pose for modern companies.

In today’s media climate, internal crises quickly become external meltdowns.

Here are today’s top stories:

Musicians vow to cut ties with Amazon over ICE

A coalition of more than 380 musicians pledged to sever their affiliation with the tech juggernaut because of the work that its web hosting platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS), is doing for Immigrations and Custom Enforcement, or ICE.

The letter targets Amazon’s planned music festival called “The Intersect.” The letter also calls for an Amazon to end projects that “encourage racial discrimination and profiling,” such as facial recognition technology.

The festival still has plenty of high-profile acts signed on, and Amazon has declined to comment on the letter.

Why it matters: In the current media landscape, everything can become a crisis, and working with influential cultural figures who have their own personal brands to uphold can open your organization to more risk. Amazon has yet to make a winning argument on its involvement with ICE, as well as its work on facial recognition technology and other programs that concern consumers. Staying silent might be better than a half-baked response, but it won’t make the issue go away anytime soon.

Related reading:


In new research from the Content Marketing Institute, content marketers shared what habits and tactics helped them become more successful with their creation efforts.

The biggest way to differentiate yourself from the competition? Craft content relevant to the customer journey.

To learn more about how your content creation efforts stack up for next year, read the full report.

Google changes how it will serve search results

The latest algorithm change is intended to get consumers a more relevant answer to questions they type into the search bar. Where at one time Google might have landed in the ballpark, it now hopes to serve the exact information requested thanks to Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT).

How will it change search results? Buzzfeed reported:

Pandu Nayak, Google’s vice president of search, gave another example at a press event yesterday, using the query “How old was Taylor Swift when Kanye went on stage?” Before BERT, Google surfaced videos of the 2009 event during which the rapper interrupted the pop star’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards. After BERT, Google presents as its first result a snippet from a BBC article, which states: “A 19-year-old Swift had just defeated Beyoncé to win Best Female Video for her country-pop teen anthem You Belong With Me.” Google’s search returns automatically highlighted “19-year-old” for emphasis.

What you should know: It’s going to be more crucial than ever that your content and website answers the exact question your customers want answered. If you don’t know what your audience is thinking and feeling, it’s time to do some research and get to the bottom of it. Those who don’t react will only watch their organic search drop off the face of the earth.

Related reading:


A street artist in Seattle lit up social media with a video of his recreations of NFL highlights.

The installation is a good reminder for PR pros on how creating a simple, satisfying experience offline can generate noise around the world through social media sharing.

The video offers an element of surprise, and it ties into popular cultural tropes that are easily understood by a big audience.

The media companies behind the NFL were quick to notice the video had legs and shared the piece on their channels, after asking for permission and giving proper credit.

For brand managers, you don’t always have to be a content creation genius to be part of the conversation online. Robust listening will help you spot a winner when it shows up and you might be able to strike a beneficial partnership.

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey critiques Facebook’s Zuckerberg

The social media founder and CEO took some jabs at Facebook’s chief as Mark Zuckerberg has been launching new PR messages, including a speech at Georgetown and testimony on Capitol Hill. In particular, Dorsey slammed Zuckerberg’s story that he created Facebook as a way for his peers to share their voices on the Iraq war.

Business Insider reported:

Dorsey called him out on this, saying, “There’s some amount of revisionist history in all his storytelling. It takes away from the authenticity and the genuineness of what we’re trying to do,” according to Frier on Twitter.

Why it matters: A competitor can taint your entire industry with a bad message, and for social media companies looking to preserve their relationships with consumers, it’s important to advocate for core values. It’s also a great chance for Twitter to grab a headline and create some differentiation with Facebook which has struggled since its data-use scandal. Brand managers should note that creating differentiation on products is difficult, but there is often room to do so regarding core organizational values.

Related reading:


We asked what the best way was for your organization to limit the time and resources that can be gobbled up by social media. The No. 1 answer was to set clear expectations and limits.

That means being honest with clients, too. Don’t overpromise. It won’t end well for anyone.


Where is you focus going to be for content for next year? Share your thoughts to be featured in the next edition of our #MorningScoop.


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2 Responses to “Ernst & Young slammed for sexist seminar, musicians protest Amazon’s ICE ties, and content creators tap into the customer journey”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    Just as a singles bar may not be an appropriate place for accounting executives to pitch for new accounts, an accounting firm’s office may not be an appropriate place for accountants to speak or dress in a way to communicate sexuality.

    I don’t know if it was lawful but when a female senior executive came to work with no slip and a somewhat transparent dress, I invited her to buy a slip from a nearby store at company expense.

    Perhaps an employer has a duty—or at least a right—to try protecting employees of any sex from sexual come-ons. Also a duty or right to counsel new employees on dress an behavior.

    Good rule for employers: if you hope not to see something say something.

    Noelle McElrath-Hart says:

    Ronald, I’d encourage you to look up some research on the complicated relationship between women and dressing for the workplace. The Problematic Nature of Dress for Women Managers by Ehrich and Dress and Physical Attractiveness of Women in Job Interviews by Johnson and Higgins are great starting points to highlight the issues with viewing women has wanting “to communicate sexuality,” when really, they’re just trying to get work done like their male counterparts while also being seen as attractive and professional, all of which have an impact on how they are perceived by their co-workers.

    Even Ernst & Young ended up retracting their original statement they said in the HuffPost article (It would be helpful if PR Daily updated this to reflect the new statement.) and understood that it no longer reflected current perspectives and attitudes. Seeing as how “slips” haven’t been available in most stores to purchase in awhile, it might be helpful for you to brush up on this topic. If this incident did actually happen recently, items like slips are only available to purchase in high-end lingerie stores, which also reflect how inappropriate the situation was.

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    Noelle, anyone looking for love on the job may more likely find it not by dressing provocatively but by becoming a first grade teacher.