Instagram fights bullies, Blue Bell’s viral mess, and the top reason consumers unfollow brands

Also: An exclusive interview on an executive’s response to ridicule and a grocer’s anti-plastic-bag campaign backfires.

Good morning, PR pros.

As Amazon Prime Day inches closer, other retailers are releasing rival deals.

Kohl’s is taking a different tack: Its “single biggest initiative” this year is to accept Amazon returns. The retail chain will pack, label and ship back your unwanted merchandise, hoping you’ll spend time in its store once you’ve come through the door.

Here are today’s top stories:

Instagram targets bullies with platform changes

The Facebook-owned social media platform rolled out features designed to decrease cyberbullying. One asks users whether they’re sure they want to post a disparaging comment; the other is a tool called Restrict, which enables users to restrict interactions with accounts that post harassing comments and images.

Why it matters: You can use the Restrict tool to combat trolls targeting brand accounts and executives’ Instagram presences (if they have them).

Related reading:


Being mocked on social media doesn’t make for a fun day at the office, but GT Dave, founder and chief executive of GT’s Living Foods, showed the power of facing ridicule and embracing humor. Read our exclusive story about how he turned social media critics into avid fans.

Blue Bell faces viral challenge meltdown

A viral video of a person opening a carton of Blue Bell ice cream, licking the top layer and putting it back in the store freezer has inspired others to do the same with ice cream and other products under the hashtag #icecreamchallenge. Blue Bell’s social media team has been responding to concerned consumers with tweets such as these:

Why you should care: The Wall Street Journal called the challenge “the wrong sort of viral advertising.” In a digital age where social media users snap up challenges to boost their online clout, your organization can end up in the limelight for all the wrong reasons. Make sure your crisis response plan is ready for an unwanted viral moment.

Related reading:


In our coverage of Sprout Social’s Social Media Index for 2019, consumers reported that the No. 1 reason they will unfollow your brand is poor customer service. Does your social media strategy help you handle complaints? Tell us @bekiweki using the hashtag #MorningScoop.

Grocery store’s anti-plastic-bag campaign goes awry

As many organizations are trying to cut down on plastic use, one Canadian grocery store infused humor into its effort. East West Market designed its plastic shopping bags to embarrass customers who forgot reusable bags. The stunt backfired: Consumers are clamoring for their own bags emblazoned with “Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium,” “Wart Ointment Wholesale” and “The Colon Care Co-Op.”

Why it matters: The store’s owner, David Kwen, told NPR that he still considers the stunt a win because it “creates conversation.” A smarter move might have been putting the edgy names on reusable bags. If you’re looking to grab attention, tap into consumers’ appreciation for quirky comedy.

Related reading:


Yesterday we asked you to caption this GIF:

You can probably relate to a caption about email overload from Microsoft’s Miri Rodriguez:

Häfele America’s Scott Kaminski also shared a caption appropriate for a post-holiday work week:


What social media platform is No. 1 for your executive or leader? Weigh in on Twitter below under the hashtag #MorningScoop.


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