Film production responds to deadly misfire on set, job candidates prefer vaccination requirements, and Twitter research finds conservative bias

Also: Heinz introduces shoppable livestream event, Howard University addresses student housing problems, TikTok publishes inaugural Discover List, and more.

Hello, communicators:

Heinz announced a partnership with e-commerce video platform Firework to promote the launch of the condiment company’s first-ever Halloween store and limited release of Tomato Blood Ketchup bottles. Firework will provide the technology for a shoppable livestream event on Heinz’s website and owned media channels.

“We are excited to bring the magic of Halloween to people through our first-ever HEINZ Halloween Store, but we don’t want to limit that experience to only those who can make it in person,” Heinz Brand Director Ashleigh Gibson said in a press release. “By working with Firework, we’re able to connect with fans across the country who can not only watch the action unfold on the livestream, but also actively participate in the conversation and buy products without ever leaving the stream.”

“As one of the first major CPG brands in the U.S. to sell directly to consumers through a large-scale livestream event with Firework, Heinz is forging new authentic paths to direct engagement, particularly with younger families,” added Firework chief revenue officer.

While Heinz’ initial plans to launch a Halloween store highlighted a return to in-person marketing stunts, the brand’s partnership with Firework emphasizes the power of offering hybrid experiences so customers and audiences can engage with your campaigns whether or not they show up in person.

Film production faces questions over safety measures after fatal accident

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed in an on-set accident after actor Alec Baldwin discharged a prop gun. Director Joel Souza was also wounded. Baldwin shared his condolences on social media, vowing to cooperate with the police investigation of the incident:

Speaking to The L.A. Times, several crew members cited multiple issues with the production that prompted crew members to walk off the job, including delayed paychecks, not covering hotel accommodation for the crew, and safety issues regarding handling weapons on set.

The L.A. Times reports:

Three crew members who were present at the Bonanza Creek Ranch set on Saturday said they were particularly concerned about two accidental prop gun discharges.

Baldwin’s stunt double accidentally fired two rounds Saturday after being told that the gun was “cold”—lingo for a weapon that doesn’t have any ammunition, including blanks—two crew members who witnessed the episode told the Los Angeles Times. “There should have been an investigation into what happened,” a crew member said. “There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.”

…“The safety of our cast and crew is the top priority of Rust Productions and everyone associated with the company, ” Rust Movie Productions said in a statement. “Though we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety on set, we will be conducting an internal review of our procedures while production is shut down. We will continue to cooperate with the Santa Fe authorities in their investigation and offer mental health services to the cast and crew during this tragic time.”

Why it matters:

The crisis statement from Rust Productions strikes a false note when it claims “we were not made aware of any official complaints concerning weapon or prop safety,” as multiple reports of internal pushback have been made public. It’s a reminder that holding statements must take care not to offer sweeping claims that can be later disproved.

The statement from Rust Productions indicates either criminally dangerous ignorance and a disturbing clack of oversight, or profound dissimulation and a willingness to bury the truth.


MEASURED THOUGHTS

In a new study by the Harris Poll, 47% of respondents to a survey said that they would be more willing to accept a job from a company that required a COVID-19 vaccine. Among that group, 59% cited “increased comfort interacting with coworkers” as the primary factor and 58% cited “a sense of personal safety.”

“With a minority of responses reflecting opposition to vaccine mandates, the poll suggests required jabs aren’t as controversial as they might seem,” wrote Harris Poll.

Check out the full report here.


CRISIS COMMJUNICATIONS

Howard University leaders took to Twitter to address student concerns regarding unclean living conditions on campus, with complaints of mold in the walls of their dorms, the lack of COVID-19 testing on campus and more.

Cynthia Evers, vice president of student affairs at Howard, shared a statement via Howard’s official Twitter handle:

After students hosted a sit-in to protest conditions, the board of trustees also acknowledged the protests in a statement:

We will continue to foster open conversations across the entire institution because we understand the value of hearing all perspectives, whether through town halls, community dialogues or through the Student Life Committee. Your voices bring life to the Howard community and campus and have strengthened Howard into the institution it is today. We believe that it is important to engage student leaders in a manner that facilitates better communication and positions the board to take necessary action to make our University stronger. We know we have a gap to bridge in order to meet your expectations and ours. While we may have closed the gap in several areas, challenges remain. This acknowledgment is captured in our strategic plan and ongoing efforts.

Howard’s initial social media statement, delivered in several text-heavy images compressed into a single tweet, fails to follow best practices for sharing content on Twitter. Its subsequent statement, which focuses on open conversations and university values while acknowledging a communications gap, also fails to address the specific student grievances that prompted protests in the first place.

Commitments to change should adopt a “show, don’t tell” approach that demonstrates you have thought about specific remedies to stakeholder concerns and are taking specific, actionable solutions to address them.


SOCIAL BUZZ

TikTok launched its inaugural Discover List, spotlighting content creators who have significantly boosted trends and conversations across the platform.

The Hollywood Reporter reports:

The list, released on Tuesday morning, focuses on five categories: icons, innovators, foodies, change makers and originators. To create the list, TikTok’s community team—led by TikTok’s director of creator community, Kudzi Chikumbu—nominated creators and examined measurements like “engagement, views, video creations, account growth, likes, interactions with followers, and also which creators and content have sparked conversations both on and off the app,” according to a TikTok spokesperson.

With this list, TikTok offers a solid example of how you can celebrate your partners or influencers while simultaneously educating those unfamiliar with the influencers and trends that make your brand or organization successful.


TAKE OUR SURVEY

If you’re looking for benchmark data to show your bosses the next time you ask for a raise, lend us a hand—and help yourself and your peers while you’re at it. Participate in Ragan’s Salary & Workplace Culture Survey, a comprehensive look at salaries, benefits, culture, bonuses and other aspects of the job in a fast-moving industry.

Both internal and external communicators are encouraged to participate.

By taking part, you will receive a $150 discount to a Ragan virtual conference of your choice and be entered to win one of five $50 gift cards. All who complete the survey will receive a full report on the findings. Responses are anonymous.

Twitter’s report acknowledges conservative bias in its algorithm

An internal review of Twitter’s algorithms determined that they amplify right-leaning content on the platform over left-leaning content. The researchers combed through millions of 2020 tweets by elected officials from multiple countries, along with political tweets from news outlets.

The research makes good on Twitter’s promise to reevaluate how its algorithms work following criticism that the social platform amplified disinformation that contributed to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

The Washington Post reports:

“Our results reveal a remarkably consistent trend: In 6 out of 7 countries studied, the mainstream political right enjoys higher algorithmic amplification than the mainstream political left,” the researchers wrote in a 27-page report.

In response to concerns about the far-reaching impacts of its platform, Twitter in April announced its “Responsible Machine Learning Initiative,” driven by its ML Ethics, Transparency and Accountability (META) team, aimed at studying the “unintentional harms” caused by its product and making those findings public. “When Twitter uses ML, it can impact hundreds of millions of Tweets per day,” the company said in a blog post announcing the effort. “Sometimes, the way a system was designed to help could start to behave differently than was intended. These subtle shifts can then start to impact the people using Twitter.”

What it means:

Twitter’s willingness to shine a light on the biases of its algorithms also doubles as an opportunity to educate those unfamiliar with machine learning and algorithmic amplification about how those systems work, turning its crisis repair strategy into thought leadership content along the way.

 

COMMENT

One Response to “Film production responds to deadly misfire on set, job candidates prefer vaccination requirements, and Twitter research finds conservative bias”

    Ronald N Levy says:

    Sometimes a good PR response is to solve a problem like this by bringing in
    help from outside–money from a corporate donor plus pro bono PR help from a great PR firm or association.

    A PR opportunity for the university is to bring in corporate support to not only clear away the maintenance problems but make things better than ever.

    A PR opportunity for a donor company would be provide help that wins massive gratitude from many among 40 million Blacks in America, perhaps over 100 million Whites who care about education, donor company employees who’d be proud of what their company is doing, plus consumers and dealers who have an extra reason to like and help the donor company.

    The NEED for support is clear from this PR Daily report, the PR OPPORTUNITY is clear from the experience of PR people at potential donors, COST would be low relative to how much the university and donor could benefit, and the new relationship could be fruitful in the future for both Howard and the donor (or several donors).

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