Fans swarm the web to save Spider-Man, SFO and Hasbro are getting rid of plastic, and more online fans equals less engagement

Also: YouTube will stop targeting ads to children, Facebook offers users a data-control feature, and Hotels.com wangles for a plug in wedding vows.

Good morning, PR pros:

Social media users were buzzing yesterday as Disney’s Marvel Studios deal with Sony Pictures crumbled, kicking Spider-Man out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Here’s what Sony—which holds the rights to the Spider-Man films—had to say about Disney’s demands for a bigger stake as well as decreasing involvement from Kevin Feige, Marvel’s president:

Many consumers issued calls to save Spider-Man:

Even Jeremy Renner, who plays Marvel character Hawkeye, issued a plea to Sony through Instagram:

Here are today’s top stories:

San Francisco International Airport and Hasbro pivot from plastic

The airport recently banned sales of water in plastic bottles in its effort to become the world’s first zero-waste airport by 2021. Shops and lounges must now offer or sell water in reusable and recyclable glass or aluminum, or in compostable packaging.

In a press release, the airport wrote:

“SFO continues to lead the way in airport sustainability initiatives,” said Airport Director Ivar C. Satero. “With this move, we take a giant step towards our goal to achieve zero waste going into landfill. I appreciate the support of our SFO business community in making this bold move for our environment.”

Likewise, Hasbro announced this week that it will phase out plastic from its packaging starting in 2020, with a goal of eliminating most plastic packaging by the end of 2022. (As one consumer pointed out, this won’t affect the plastic used in its products.)

In a statement, the toy company’s chairman and chief executive, Brian Goldner, said:

Removing plastic from our packaging is the latest advancement in our more than decade-long journey to create a more sustainable future for our business and our world.

Why it matters: If you haven’t included sustainability goals in your corporate social responsibility efforts, it’s time to start.

Consumers are vocally supporting organizations that are working on environmentally friendly alternatives to packaging and more. Jumping on the sustainability bandwagon can also help prepare you for upcoming or future ordinances and laws imposed by cities, states and countries.

Once you’ve outlined your sustainability strategy, include it in your communications, such as with this Mondelez International tweet:

Related reading:


MEASURED THOUGHTS

When working with influencers, the size of their following matters, but not in the way you think. The bigger the following, the worse your average engagement rate.

That’s what a study from Influencer Marketing Hub discovered for its 2019 Benchmark Report.

If you break it down, the larger following might still get more users to look at your offering, but engagement rate is also a measure of the influencer’s connection with his or her network. Social media users with smaller, niche followings have a much deeper connection to their audience.

YouTube to stop marketing to children

The social media platform is taking steps to end targeted ads on videos that kids will probably watch. The move comes after a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission—along with damning evidence that YouTube was ramping up its marketing to younger consumers.

Engadget reported:

A study by Pew Research has found that videos featuring children under 13 receive on average three times as many views as other videos.

In July, it was reported that the FTC reached a settlement with Google over the matter, with YouTube’s parent company expected to pay a “multimillion-dollar fine.” But the exact terms of the settlement and fine remain undisclosed as the Justice Department looks over things.

YouTube’s plan has been criticized for having an unclear way to enforce it, but the change will probably cut down on options to tailor ads to certain demographic groups.

Bloomberg reported:

Right now, YouTube sells two different types of video ads, broadly speaking. One simply pairs the context of a video with a commercial message. So, a YouTube clip about basketball might have an ad from Adidas. The other type uses an array of digital signals. With these ads, marketers can reach viewers in a demographic group, such as homeowners or new parents, based on Google’s vast data troves — websites people visit, searches they make and so on.

Why it matters: PR and marketing pros should be conscious of and careful about messages they aim at younger consumers—not just to avoid potential legal issues, but also to protect brand reputation. Including a warning or statement to defend yourself from blame isn’t enough.

Related reading:


TACTICALLY SPEAKING

Hotels.com partnered with Hulu to offer one lucky couple a $15,000 honeymoon. To enter the contest, entrants must include “Hotels.com” in their vows and share the video under the hashtag #HotelsSponConVows.

It’s a way to promote the budget booking site as well as Hulu’s “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” but the wacky sweepstakes is already making headlines.

No word on whether you should add the hashtag #sponsor to your vows as well.

Facebook beefs up data transparency

On Tuesday, the social media platform announced a new user feature called “Your Off-Facebook Activity.” It enables users to see what information apps and websites have sent to Facebook (such as when you sign into an app with your Facebook account). It also enables you to disconnect that information from your account—along with any future activity.

(Image from Facebook’s newsroom)

Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, and its director of product management, David Baser, wrote in a blog post:

… This is another way to give people more transparency and control on Facebook, along with recent updates to our Ad Library, updates to “Why am I seeing this ad?” and the launch of a new feature called “Why am I seeing this post?”.

… This feature marks a new level of transparency and control, and we’ll keep improving. We welcome conversations with privacy experts, policymakers and other companies about how to continue building tools like this.

Why you should care: Communicate in clear and transparent ways to both employees and consumers. Facebook is working to fix its image and regain users’ trust after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but you shouldn’t wait for a crisis to enhance your transparency practices.

Related reading:


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked what jargon you despise:

“Synergy” was the winner loser with 37% of your votes, followed closely by “game-changing” and “circle back.” A few of you, including LockerDome’s account manager of brand partnerships, Robert Fischer, said all the terms were equally terrible:

Communicator Amanda Todd included another hated piece of corporate-speak:


SOUNDING BOARD

The only thing that stays the same in PR is that everything will change. What’s the next sea change that will force communicators to reshape the way they do their jobs?

Weigh in online or in the comments. Don’t forget to tag your post with the hashtag #MorningScoop


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