Forever 21 files for bankruptcy, McDonald’s tests meatless option, and email’s the go-to for ‘conversational marketing’

Also: Twitter buzzed for National Coffee Day, whether profanity makes sense for your audience, Facebook tests removing ‘likes,’ and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

The rumors about Facebook removing “likes” are proving true.

The company is preparing to test hiding the metric from the public on accounts in Australia.

No tests are planned beyond Down Under; the data collected will determine any future actions, Facebook says.

The move is similar to a test the company is running on sister platform Instagram; that one started in Canada and has been rolled out to other countries.

What does the hiding of “likes” mean for communicators? Plenty of other metrics are available to help measure your message—and there will still be instantaneous feedback on things like comments and shares.

What is of more concern is whether the use of “likes” will decrease in importance for Facebook’s algorithm. To adapt, marketers must work to create engaged online communities.

Here are today’s top stories:

Forever 21 files for bankruptcy

On Sunday, the struggling retailer made the rumored move official, and it will involve closing as many as 178 of its lowest-performing stores. However, Forever 21 is assuring consumers it’s still in business.

In a press release, the company wrote:

This does NOT mean that we are going out of business – on the contrary, filing for bankruptcy protection is a deliberate and decisive step to put us on a successful track for the future.

We are confident this is the right path for the long-term health of our business. Once we complete a reorganization, Forever 21 will be a stronger, more viable company that is better positioned to prosper for years to come. We look forward to continuing to provide you with the great service and curated assortment of merchandise that you expect from us.

Why it matters: When you have to rebrand or reinvent yourself to stay afloat, make sure you’re projecting an air of confidence—but use simple and straightforward language, not corporate jargon. Forever 21’s press release does exactly this, as it reassured stakeholders that the move offers the best chance for its success and that outwardly, nothing would change.

Related reading:


Drift and Survey Monkey have released the 2019 State of Conversational Marketing Report, which shows that even though consumers say email is dead, 33% use it more often than they did last year. Conversing with organizations through an app was used more often by 32% of consumers, with telephone conversations, online customer service chats and social media platforms coming in close behind.

McDonald’s Canada goes meatless with ‘PLT’

The fast-food chain has jumped on the bandwagon—temporarily—with its “Plant, Lettuce and Tomato” offering, which replaces the classic BLT with a meatless patty. McDonald’s Canada is offering it only for a limited time, however, to see how the sandwich is received:

 Why it matters: Consider how you can add sustainability or other values-driven initiatives to your campaigns. For many fast-food and restaurant brands, the question isn’t if you should offer a meatless option—it’s when you’ll do it. Expanding the menu to create a vegetarian and/or vegan option caters to another consumer segment, but it also offers environmentally conscious consumers the chance to purchase while living their values, which is important to a growing segment of consumers.

Related reading:


Does the use of profanity alienate your audience or attract new listeners? Amazon is betting that some consumers will delight in a potty-mouthed virtual assistant with an update that will bring Samuel L. Jackson’s voice to Alexa, its smart speaker system.

The company says a few choice swears are part of the authentic Samuel L. Jackson experience, but users will have the ability to enable or disable the language.

The Big Think wrote:

Amazon seemed to realize that its new feature would hardly be authentic if the “Pulp Fiction” star weren’t allowed to curse you out, so it plans to offer users the option to enable or disable profanity. The new feature also uses Amazon’s neural text-to-speech technology to produce phrases without relying entirely on prior recordings. Amazon also suggested it’d add other celebrity voices to the Echo platform next year.

The use of profanity can vary in acceptability based on where your audience lives.

Political figures such as Beto O’Rourke have been alternately praised and excoriated for their use of the f-word. Robert DeNiro made news over the weekend for dropping the f-bomb on CNN.

Knowing whether to use these taboo terms requires a deep understanding of your audience. If they won’t be offended, salty language (in moderation) can lend authenticity to your message.

Brand managers got caffeinated for National Coffee Day

Many coffee chains offered consumers free or discounted cuppas, and Silk Almond Milk reimbursed chosen consumers for their plant-based coffee drinks. However, plenty of brand managers took part in the buzz by sharing coffee-related tweets that tied to their organizations:

Why you should care: Thought sometimes overdone, hopping on a Twitter trend or national holiday celebration remains one of the most popular ways to attract attention and stoke engagement. Make sure you know what the trend is about, and keep things entertaining or informative. Jumping in to immediately sell your product or service is a turnoff, but finding a fun GIF or way to relate the trend to your organization (such as the tweets above) can provide an on-brand way to join the conversation.

Related reading


We asked whether your organization was prepared for a security breach, and 54% of you said you had no plan in place; 15% said you could do more to ready responses for such a crisis:

Though only 23% of you said you’re prepared for this event, security breaches are becoming more commonplace in today’s increasingly digital communications and e-commerce landscape. Just as with other potential PR crises, prepare now for a potential issue with an organization-wide strategy, crises response statements and organization experts who can speak to how you’re handling the cleanup.


How do you see the future of email marketing? Will you be investing more or less in your email efforts for 2020?

Weigh in on our poll and share your thoughts with us under the hashtag #MorningScoop.


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