Juul chief apologizes, Amazon workers strike on Prime Day, and P&G support equal pay

Also: Phrases to banish from the workplace, Starbucks ditches newspapers and how e-commerce is shaking up the retail industry.

Good morning, PR pros:

If you’re looking to read the morning headlines at Starbucks, you’ll have to bring your own newspaper.

In September, the coffee chain will remove newspapers, bags of coffee beans and grab-and-go snacks from its 8,600 company-owned stories.

The PR and marketing takeaway comes from Starbucks’ statement to CNN Business: “We are always looking at what we offer our customers in our stores and making adjustments to our portfolio based on changing customer behavior.”

How can you identify the elements of your brand that no longer suit your consumer base?

Here are today’s top stories:

Juul’s chief apologizes to parents of vaping teens

The company dominating 40% of the e-cigarette market recently apologized for what the Food and Drug Administration called a teen vaping “epidemic”: In 2018, almost 21% of high-school students used a vaping device. “I’d tell them that I’m sorry that their child’s using the product,” Juul’s chief executive, Kevin Burns, told CNBC anchor Carl Quintanilla in a documentary that will air Monday. “… It’s not intended for them. I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them.”

Why it matters: When it comes to corporate reputation, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Juul shuttered its Instagram and Facebook profiles and pulled its flavored products from shelves following criticism—but some consumers aren’t buying the company’s mea culpa.

Related reading:


There are some things leaders should never say their staff. Robby Brumberg breaks down several ill-advised phrases—and what employees think when managers say them.


A blackout in New York City sent concertgoers to the streets, but the artists followed them for a series of impromptu performances al fresco.

The move is a reminder for communicators to think about how they can highlight the stories of employees who go the extra mile in a crisis—not to mention the power of video on social media. Make sure digital storytelling is part of your crisis communications plan.

As Amazon consumers buy, workers strike

Amazon Prime Day deals are live, but workers in the U.S. and Europe are striking to protest warehouse workplace conditions and wages. The company issued a terse statement regarding the six-hour strike in Shakopee, Minnesota: “Amazon offers already what this outside organization is asking for.”

Why you should care: If your employees are unhappy, your image can quickly tarnish. Remember, your workforce is the largest source of your organization’s stories. For Amazon, headlines like “Should you boycott Amazon Prime Day?” and “How to support the Amazon Prime Day strike” are taking a toll on its reputation.

Related reading:


E-commerce is dramatically changing retailers’ business and marketing strategies. Nielsen reported that online sales of consumer packaged goods in 2018 grew 29% from the year prior and e-commerce expanded at a 32.7% compound annual growth rate in the last three years.

It’s an “adapt or die” trend: Coresight Research reported 7,062 retail store closings in the United States this year. That number could rise to 12,000 by year-end, a record. Even established brands are vulnerable to e-commerce trends: Charming Charlie, Charlotte Russe and Payless ShoeSource have filed for bankruptcy, and Gap, Fred’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and more are closing locations.

P&G support women’s soccer team fight for equal pay

Proctor & Gamble, a sponsor of U.S. Soccer (through its Secret deodorant products), recently took a stand on the gender pay gap. It donated $529,000 ($23,000 for each of the 23 players on the U.S. Women’s National Team) and took out a full-page ad in The New York Times urging the U.S. Soccer Federation to “be on the right side of history.”

Megan Rapinoe, a co-captain for USWNT, applauded the move on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying that other organizations “need to get comfortable with throwing [their weight] around.”

Why you should care: Social media reactions to P&G’s donation are mixed. It’s risky to take a stand on political and social issues, but as more and more consumers press for it, brand managers will soon find speaking out unavoidable. When you take a stand, prepare for criticism along with applause.

Related reading:


For many PR pros, Monday can hold a lot of excitement along with a lengthy list of tasks and requests.

What has you giggling? Caption the GIF below, and we’ll feature the best in tomorrow’s #MorningScoop.


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