Home Depot chief addresses theft (sort of), #OreoforSanta lights up Twitter, and Costco’s tepid words on its Black Friday blackout

Also: Lessons from Medtronic’s hurricane response, how CMOs think about the future, the ideal podcast length, and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

Some communicators are getting into the holiday spirit with brand messages for both young and old about Christmas traditions. One social media team has homed in on a sweet spot in many families’ celebrations: putting out cookies for Santa.

Oreo is asking Twitter users to promise to leave the cookie connoisseur a selection of Oreos when he visits their house.

Users who tweet their promise to sustain Santa’s sugar habit get a personalized response.

The campaign is a reminder that social media is about creating interactions with your audience. If you don’t have the resources to respond to users in real time, think about whether your campaign has other ways to break through the digital noise.

You can share your ideas for creating holiday-themed stories with our hashtag #MorningScoop.

Here are today’s top stories:

Home Depot CEO blames opioid crisis for losses

The chain’s top boss, Craig Menear, shared with Wall Street analysts that the home improvement chain has been hit by “organized retail crime” and theft of inventory. Menear blames the opioid crisis, at least vaguely, for the uptick in crime.

CBS News reported:

“We have a hypothesis that this ties to the opioid crisis, but we’re not positive about that,” he said during a conference call on Wednesday. “But what we can tell you is that, working hand-in-hand with law enforcement, we are seeing significant busts that are happening.”

Menear didn’t give an exact figure for the company’s losses from theft. But he cited an incident earlier this year in which $16.5 million worth of goods were stolen from multiple retailers and stored in a warehouse.

Menear’s comments could have an impact on stock price as some of his unusual phrasing paints a picture of a brand under siege.

CBS News continued:

Loop Capital analyst Laura Champine, who follows Home Depot, said the CEO’s comments are the first mention of opioid-related thefts hurting profits. Even more troubling, Champine said, was that company officials used phrases like “organized retail crime” and “working hand-in-hand with law enforcement.”

“That’s a bunch of words they normally don’t use in these calls,” she said. “We’re hearing about truckloads of product being stolen. If they can’t get it under control, it will hurt their stock.”

Why it matters: How you talk about a crisis is crucial for helping stakeholders believe that your organization has a workable solution and is pursuing every opportunity to bring things to a satisfying conclusion. Using phrases like “organized retail crime” might seem like an accurate description of the problem, but unfamiliar words could confuse your audience. Menear’s vague allocation of blame might do more to undermine confidence than to restore it.


HOW WE DID IT

After a hurricane devastated Puerto Rico, health care company Medtronic, which manufactures its products on the island, went into action. The company’s chief communications officer, Rob Clark, shares how the company responded by staying rooted in the organization’s values.

Read his full account.

Costco CFO admits error on Thanksgiving cyber outage

The chief finance officer for the retail chain, Richard Galanti, addressed a website crash that prevented shoppers from taking advantage of the sales on Thanksgiving weekend, the biggest shopping period in the U.S.

Business Insider wrote:

“It was unfortunate,” Galanti said. “Despite all the efforts to have plenty of processing capacity, if you will, there was something that occurred.”

Galanti added that despite this, ecommerce sales were still up by a percentage in the high teens in the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, compared to last year’s figures.

Experts believe Costco might have lost as much as $10.9 million in sales due to the outage.

Why you should care: A crisis effects many stakeholders, from investors to employees and loyal customers. When you plan to address a mistake, think about how the incident affected each of your key constituencies before going ahead. For Costco, the phrase “left something on the table” might have been the appropriate coinage for Wall Street analysts, but frustrated shoppers won’t be swayed by such flaccid language—including “there was something that occurred.”


MEASURED THOUGHTS

How are marketers structuring their strategies for the future? A report from Marketing Charts suggests most marketers care more about the short term (one or two years out) than the long term (more than five years).

Does this offer PR pros an opportunity to offer a different outlook in strategy sessions? Certainly anyone who is thinking about brand building and reputation should look to the very long term, and communicators can own that perspective in their organization.

Marketers see their No. 1 challenge to be increasing revenue, and they see brand reputation and positioning as a secondary priority, according to the study.

What do you think? Is reputation more important than short-term revenue? Share your thoughts with our hashtag #MorningScoop.


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked what you thought the ideal length was for a branded podcast. Most answers suggest that listeners prefer short programming.

However, the audience doesn’t want it to be too short. Make sure you have a topic worth spending ample time with, and keep the conversation entertaining for podcast listeners accustomed to episodes of around half an hour.


SOUNDING BOARD

A recent post on HubSpot about the definition of PR has us thinking about what the most important part of the PR role is in the modern media environment.

What do you think? Weigh in for our Twitter poll, or tweet us @PRDaily with the hashtag #MorningScoop.

 

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COMMENT

2 Responses to “Home Depot chief addresses theft (sort of), #OreoforSanta lights up Twitter, and Costco’s tepid words on its Black Friday blackout”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    Craig Menear’s opportunity is to hire a great PR firm to hugely reduce thefts that could cost stockholders hundreds of millions, perhaps billions.

    THE PROBLEM is that when people get away with stealing, you not only lose the stolen merchandise but you may get even MORE theft as word gets around how easily Home Depot was ripped off and how profitably.

    THE SOLUTION is partly to have a PR firm with great media skills create massive coverage on how shoplifters suffer. How they are getting arrested and jailed—and what happens then.

    WHAT YOU GET from the PR is terrific deterrence. The more ink and time your PR firm creates on what happens to arrested Home Depot shoplifters, the fewer shoplifters there will be. Kids don’t often date those known to be diseased, and thieves don’t often steal from a store where shoplifters are known to be nailed.

    You can easily imagine what sex-starved prisoners do to newly imprisoned kids–and how. Will more media coverage on this reduce the number of kids who steal? Will adults steal less if you create repeated media coverage on their disgrace among neighbors an co-workers if arrested and convicted for shoplifting? Home Depot’s problem is not just a policing problem but a PR problem—how to make coverage of convictions more massive so thefts will be less massive.

    For reputational safety, donate to legal aid societies that defend the accused. This will position you to reply correctly, if accused of being bastards for prosecuting the guilty, that (1) you also donate to defending the innocent, and (2) shoplifters hurt not only stores but also shoppers because shoplifting increases consumer prices.

    Nailing bad guys helps good guys. Reducing theft can come not just from increasing public hope of how lovely it may someday be in heaven but using PR to stir justified fears of how horrible it may soon be in jail.