Insurance companies issue COVID-19 credits, Panera offers groceries as H-E-B sells restaurants’ meals, and Google bans Zoom

Also: Dolly Parton reads stories selected from her nonprofit, ‘COVID-19’ is trending downward in news and on social media, social media content during the crisis, and more.

Good morning, communicators:

 Organizations and celebrities have been creating content to keep people staying indoors entertained, with many of them focusing on younger children’s attention spans.

Efforts to keep kids entertained isn’t only a challenge during the day, however. Dolly Parton is looking to address that with her new series, “Goodnight with Dolly,” in which she reads children’s books:

Her selections come from her Imagination Library, so her effort is an extension of her nonprofit, while also tailored to provide comfort and support during the crisis.

Along with asking what you and your organization can offer consumers, ask what concerns your consumers have or what comforts they might be missing. That can guide you to content and initiatives that resonate.

Here are today’s top stories:

Insurance companies issue refunds and credits

Allstate, Geico, American Family Insurance and Liberty Mutual are giving consumers credits and refunds for their vehicle policies as the number of customers on the road has dropped with stay-at-home orders.

The moves have pushed other insurance companies, including State Farm, to come up with similar initiatives:

MarketWatch reported:

That makes it an opportune time for drivers with policies elsewhere to see what their car insurance company can do for them, according to one consumer advocate.

“You’ve got that leverage,” said Robert Hunter, director of insurance at the Consumer Federation of America. “They want to hold onto their customers; they’ve got to treat them right.”

Why it’s important: Consumers are looking at organizations’ responses to the crisis, and those that extend help and support will come out on top in terms of brand recognition, reputation and loyalty.

Don’t be the last to the table when it comes to your community, either: Savvy consumers will remember the organizations that stepped up vs. those forced to offer aid. When you lead the way, you also can gain positive press coverage during a news cycle dominated by COVID-19.


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

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.


Google banned its employees from using Zoom on its devices, citing “security vulnerabilities.” It’s another hit to the video conferencing platform that is struggling to regain users’ trust.

Buzzfeed News reported:

“We have long had a policy of not allowing employees to use unapproved apps for work that are outside of our corporate network,” Jose Castaneda, a Google spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News. “Recently, our security team informed employees using Zoom Desktop Client that it will no longer run on corporate computers as it does not meet our security standards for apps used by our employees. Employees who have been using Zoom to stay in touch with family and friends can continue to do so through a web browser or via mobile.”

However, Google’s edict is also self-serving.

The company’s teleconferencing tool, Google Meet, is “adding more than 2 million new users a day worldwide” CNet reported, with Google Cloud’s chief, Thomas Kurian, announcing the platform garnered 2 billion minutes of video calls throughout March.

There are several alternatives to Zoom, if your executives are concerned about your organization’s security as your employees work from home. Whether or not you continue to use Zoom, ensure your employees know your digital workplace policies and are practicing good cybersecurity practices. If you haven’t shared (or created) either, now is the time.


What are the ways you should be using social media to create connection right now? What channels are working and what messages are falling flat?

Dina Rezvanipour, founder and president of 3d Public Relations & Marketing, shares her insights on what is working for PR pros and social media figures right now and what is a no-go.

See her full Q&A here.


Talkwalker’s daily pandemic data report shows a decline in the term “COVID-19” across channels, including both news mentions and social media conversations:

Image courtesy of Talkwalker.

However, that doesn’t mean people aren’t searching for news and updates related to the crisis. Instead, they’re searching for different terms, such as #StayHomeStaySafe and #ClapForBoris as public service announcements and campaigns roll out—and as more specific news (including U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s improving health after his third night in the intensive care unit).

Image courtesy of Talkwalker.

The data highlights the importance of knowing current trends and campaigns, so you can use the right keywords and phrases to reach and resonate with your audience. However, we advise against using any of these terms in marketing messages and pitches.

Panera offers groceries as H-E-B offers restaurant meals

Panera is now offering its menu items alongside groceries such as yogurt, milk and fresh produce:

The chain’s chief executive, Niren Chaudhary, says that Panera lost half its business when it closed its dining rooms.

CNBC reported:

The grocery initiative was devised two weeks ago as a way to address consumers’ needs for groceries and to help Panera’s sales. As U.S. consumers try to limit their exposure to the virus, grocery sales have surged 73% from last year, Black Box Intelligence found. E-commerce grocers are struggling to address the skyrocketing demand.

“It’s a win for our associates because we will be able to keep our cafes open longer, and it’s great from a business standpoint because it should be incremental profit and revenue for us at a time when we desperately need it,” Chaudhary said.

On the other side of the aisle, grocery chain H-E-B has launched a program to help struggling restaurants in Texas by selling entrees in its stores.

In a press release in its newsroom, H-E-B wrote:

Through the partnerships, select H-E-B stores will sell ready-made meals from restaurant partners. All proceeds from the sales of these chef-prepared meals will go directly to the restaurants.

H-E-B has teamed with some well-know establishments know for their culinary chops. In San Antonio, H-E-B launched the program, partnering with Max & Louie’s New York Diner, a Jewish deli that’s offering a range of meals such as its popular matzo ball soup. In about a handful of H-E-B stores in San Antonio, the restaurant told the San Antonio Express-News that the move into stores has allowed ownership to hire back nearly a dozen of its furloughed employees.

Why it matters: As organizations across industries are forced to pivot to stay afloat, think of ways that you can offer additional resources to consumers that helps both your community and your organization during the crisis. This could be through a partnership or a new offering. Be willing to think outside the box and get scrappy to launch initiatives without delay.


We want to know how COVID-19 is affecting your campaigns, messaging and internal operations.

Please take our quick survey, and we will share the results with you once the data is collected. The data will help us analyze and offer guidance on how to approach the next phase of this crisis and other crises to come.

Take the survey here.


We asked how often your organization is sharing messages about the state of business and COVID-19, and 35% of you said you’re reaching out to stakeholders daily with updates. More than 32% are talking to stakeholders once a week or less often, and 27% are reaching out every few days. Only 5% are talking to stakeholders more than once daily:

When you relay important information, be aware of fatigue and information overload with crisis updates and news. You want to inform, not overwhelm.


How have your Easter campaigns shifted as consumers stay indoors during this crisis?

Weigh in below and share how your holiday initiatives have changed under the #DailyScoop hashtag. We’ll return on Monday, April 13. Stay healthy and safe, communicators.


One Response to “Insurance companies issue COVID-19 credits, Panera offers groceries as H-E-B sells restaurants’ meals, and Google bans Zoom”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    When we see a company refer to “credits” that turn out to be much less spendable than cash, communicators in these tense times may notice other terms with meanings that are less then certain.

    “LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL” sounds promising but PR teams may caution that (a) such light may be a heavy freight train coming straight at us so (b) we should trust not too much in metaphors but trust enough in hard and reliable data.

    “WE CAN MONETIZE THE DEBT” is a term we may hear in connection with legislative proposals that could add trillions to our national debt. “We’ll never have to pay that much,” advocates of bigger spending may say, if we simply allow inflation to grow enough.

    Like if we spend and then owe $100, we’ll never have to pay that much if we simply print money so each dollar becomes worth only 25 cents and we can pay back each dollar of debt by paying only a quarter. True but then each dollar of our life savings and Social Security entitlements will be worth only 25 cents!

    “ECONOMIC REDACTION” can be presented as a wonderful alternative to spending addiction—something like getting vaccination with a substance that prevents the effect of some other substance harming us. This can sound great until we look into what effect the vaccinating substance may have on us.

    “MIDDLE CLASS TAX REDUCTION.” At Wharton they taught us that over 80% of Americans may consider themselves middle class. All rich except the richest rich may see themselves as “upper” middle class. People who are poor but still eating may think of themselves as “middle class families that deserve a break.” Often, if a proposed law is billed by politicians as “middle class tax relief,” we can guess which end of the middle class may get most of the relief.

    “PERIL OF THE ALTERNATIVE.” When activists propose a law that could hurt our company, the pubic is told how the public will benefit from the law, perhaps benefit hugely. But the PR imperative and PR opportunity is to point out the PERIL of the proposed alternative, ways in which the public may get hurt very badly.

    “THE PUBLIC INTEREST” is said to be served by almost any law because any law hat benefits anyone is benefiting some part of the public. But we may protect our companies against severe injury when we show how most good people my be injured by a bad law.

    Skilled PR communicators can justifiably win management’s affection because–as is taught in PR Daily conferences and courses–although the light at the end of the tunnel may be a train coming the other way, the peril to the public can sometimes be revealed in plenty of time by our enlightening communications.

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