H&M Group apologizes for racial slur, Booking.com to lay off 4,000 employees, and NYT’s digital revenue overcomes print for first time in history

Also: Kraft serves macaroni and cheese for breakfast, Cheetos to add mac ‘n cheese offering, Twitter and Facebook remove Trump tweets for misinformation, and more.

Hello, communicators:

Kraft Heinz is aiming to help consumers officially start their day with a bowl of its iconic orange noodles, in a press release titled, “It’s official: Kraft Mac & Cheese is approved for breakfast.”

In the release, the company wrote:

These last few months have not been easy, and the struggle is real for parents with kids who are picky eaters. It’s hard to find a food that their kids will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner – except for KraftMac & Cheese. In fact, 56% of parents have served their kids Mac & Cheese for breakfast more often during COVID-19 related state lockdowns than previous months.*

It also launched the announcement by giving away limited-edition boxes of its dinner breakfast food to consumers and donating up to 1 million boxes to the nonprofit organization Feed the Children.

Here are today’s top stories: 

H&M Group issues mea culpa for racial slur

H&M’s “& Other Stories” clothing line suspended employees after complaints that an internal product photo of a purple hat carried the name “N***a Lab Beanie.” CNN reported that though the incident is against the company’s policies and procedures, product names and captions have to be approved by multiple employees before being uploaded.

CNN Business reported:

“We are deeply sorry about the word connected to an image of a product that was sent out to our stores during July,” Stories’ Managing Director Karolina Gutke, wrote in memo to employees on July 21. “This is completely unacceptable and there is no excuse to why this happened.”

As news spread to headlines, H&M Group issued an apology.

Bloomberg reported:

“We take the use of racially offensive language extremely seriously,” company spokesperson Ulrika Isaksson said in a statement Thursday. “While internal and external investigations are taking place, we have suspended the team and managers responsible for this area of the business.”

Why it’s important: Don’t expect what happens within the walls of your organization to stay there. Along with being mindful of internal communications and employees’ behavior, consider additional training and conversations that can strengthen your diversity and inclusion goals. Efforts including unconscious bias training isn’t a “one and done” solution. Rather, integrate these initiatives into ongoing programming to help your workplace culture flourish.


SOCIAL BUZZ

Twitter and Facebook removed posts by President Donald Trump and his campaign for violating the platform’s policies about COVID-19 misinformation. The content included a video of Trump’s Fox News interview, in which he said that children are “almost immune” to COVID-19.

Nick Pacilio, senior communications manager at Twitter, tweeted:

CNN Business reported:

The [Trump campaign] account appeared to have the ability to tweet following Twitter’s statement, suggesting the campaign had complied with the order and removed the video. Twitter confirmed to CNN that the campaign’s account can tweet again.

Just hours before, Facebook removed a post from Trump’s main page featuring the same interview for similar reasons.

YouTube followed suit and removed the video from its platform.

Reuters reported:

YouTube, through a spokesman, said it had also pulled down the video for violating its COVID-19 misinformation policies. However, the original interview remains available on the Fox News page on the platform. YouTube did not immediately respond to requests to clarify which videos were taken down.

Social media platforms are continuing to fight the spread of misinformation, especially regarding COVID-19, and you can help the efforts by reporting content that carries false claims. In addition, help your online communities and employees learn to identify fake news and search for sources as they consume information.


MEASURED THOUGHTS

For the first time in almost 170 years, The New York Times announced that its digital revenue beat out print–$185.5 million vs. $175.4 million. The publication also reported in second-quarter results that it gained 669,000 net new digital subscribers, its largest quarterly gain of subscribers.

The New York Times reported:

In a statement, Mark Thompson, the chief executive, called the company’s shift from print revenue to digital “a key milestone in the transformation of The New York Times.”

Attracting subscribers willing to pay for online content is a high-wire act that practically every company in the news business is trying to pull off. The Times started charging for digital content in 2011, when asking news consumers to pay for what they read on their screens was seen as a risky gambit.

“We’ve proven that it’s possible to create a virtuous circle,” Mr. Thompson said in a statement, “in which wholehearted investment in high-quality journalism drives deep audience engagement, which in turn drives revenue growth and further investment capacity.”

The announcement highlights the importance of creating digital-first content, made with mobile devices in mind, as media companies and other organizations look to the future. It’s also crucial to cater to audiences hungry for valuable content, as both print and digital ad revenues at The Times and other news media companies are still down:


CRISIS LEADERSHIP BOARD

Looking for more insight on how to address the current global crisis and lead your organization into a strong recovery?

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Join Ragan’s Crisis Leadership Board to network and brainstorm with peers, get the latest intelligence and research, and start to strategize for the future of your organization.

Learn more about this exclusive membership here.

Booking.com to lay off more than 4,000 employees

The digital travel agency’s parent company, Booking Holdings, said it’s planning to cut up to 25% of its global workforce as it restructures its business model.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

The Norwalk, Conn.-based company said it expects to finalize the plans on a country-by-country basis starting in September and send all layoff notices by the end of the year. Booking Holdings operates in more than 65 countries and employed more than 26,000 across its brands as of the end of last year.

“The travel industry remains under significant pressure,” Glenn Fogel, president and chief executive, told employees in a video Tuesday. “At Booking.com this has hit, and will continue to hit, our business hard.”

The upcoming layoffs follow 1,500 job cuts in Asia at Agoda, which Booking Holdings owns along with Kayak, Priceline and OpenTable.

Why it’s important: With economists forecasting that the airline industry won’t return to pre-COVID revenue models until 2024, travel and hospitality companies have continued to take hard hits as the pandemic continues. Keep your employees and managers in the loop, whether layoffs are on the horizon or you’re shifting efforts to stave off job cuts.


DOWNLOAD OUR REPORT

Following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others, organizations were pushed more forcefully than ever before to take stands against systemic racism and move to support social justice initiatives. Which responses made an impact—and which responses fell flat?

Learn from 10 of the biggest brand messages in our special report, “Organizational responses to Black Lives Matter.” The report offers communicators important takeaways to lead organizations and clients in the second half of 2020 and into the future.

Download our report here.

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TACTICALLY SPEAKING

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay is tapping into consumers’ changing snack habits during COVID-19 with Cheetos Mac ‘n Cheese.

The products will be available at Walmart beginning Aug. 8, and showcase how food brands have been adjusting to shifting consumer behaviors.

CNN Business reported:

It also allows the company to marry products from two of its brands: Quaker, which makes pasta under its Pasta Roni label, and Frito-Lay, the producer of Cheetos.

… “We’re seeing tremendous growth in meal solutions” like Rice-A-Roni, said Kristin Kroepfl, chief marketing officer for Quaker Foods North America. And, she added, customer research shows that most people plan to continue eating at home even after the pandemic passes. “We believe there’s a long term opportunity here,” she said.


WHAT YOU SAID 

We asked how you’re closing your emails, especially during COVID-19, and nearly 58% of you are using a standard “thank you” or “best,” while 17% are ending with “take care” or “stay well.” Roughly 16% use “sincerely” or “regards,” and almost 9% are writing something different.

Business development pro Guillaume MG uses “cheers” and content marketer Tracy Ring does the same—or tailors her response to the weekday.

Nicole Vowell, PR and media specialist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, closes with this:

PR pro Kamreshan Moonsamy boosts the typical “regards” closing:

Higher education communicator Jennifer Archer poinits out that not all closings are equal:

Is there a question you’d like us to ask in an upcoming poll? Let us know!


SOUNDING BOARD 

Which of these email phrases is your pet peeve? Are you guilty of using any?

Share your experiences and thoughts with us below and under the #DailyScoop hashtag.

COMMENT

One Response to “H&M Group apologizes for racial slur, Booking.com to lay off 4,000 employees, and NYT’s digital revenue overcomes print for first time in history”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    At first all this public demand for digitized news can look like good news for the Times but look at the dangers.

    .1. A BIG LOSS IN READERSHIP. After the election, if close to 50% of Times readers think the Times blatantly favored one candidate over the other, a big chunk of the disappointed 50% may switch to getting digital news from a more impartial source.

    .2. AN EVEN BIGGER LOSS IN ADVERTISING. If 250,000 OR 500,000 wealthier readers—prized by advertisers—are the ones who dump the Times, the paper may suffer a huge loss in digital and hard copy advertising.

    .3. VERY TOUGH NEW COMPETITION. WPP, Omnicom, Publicis and Interpublic, each hugely skilled in online communication, may be lured by the growth in digital to start a national online newspaper. This could mean more ad reach for clients, less cost per thousand for clients, an additional revenue and profit stream for the marketing conglomerates, and IMMENSE CLOUT IN WASHINGTON for the conglomerate’s clients.

    Labor costs on the news side would be tiny compared to the Times because so much news could come from AP, Reuter’s, Agence France-Presse and other services that would compete fiercely on price to win business, and from the excellent journalists of major newspapers worldwide. (Worldwide! Sometimes each city’s best or only newspaper.)

    Labor costs for space sales could be very little because half the advertising could come from a conglomerate’s own clients. No costly romancing of media buyers for appointments. Not much shunting of sales reps to non-deciders. And look at production costs. No paper to buy, no presses to run, no costly fleet of trucks, no printers and drivers who get health insurance, vacation and sick pay, retirement money and other fringe benefits.

    What’s the other side? Can you think of why a conglomerate should NOT start an online national newspaper?

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