Measuring risk for ‘scandal insurance,’ Walmart defends gun sales, and yes, pumpkin-spice Spam is a thing

Also: AP Stylebook offers a back-to-school guide, Tiffany markets diamonds for men, and YouTube changes its copyright policies.

Good morning, PR pros:

AP Stylebook has prepared for back-to-school season with a topical guide on educational terms:

The guide includes terms such as “magnet schools,” “distance learning,” “SAT” and “hooky,” as well as a reminder that there is no apostrophe in “ABCs.” (There is, however, apostrophes in single-letter grades, so use them if someone gets all A’s, B’s or C’s.)

By the way: It’s back-to-school time, but if you or your children are going back to school, omit the hyphens.

Here are today’s top stories:

Walmart defends gun sales

During the company’s earning call on Thursday, Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillion defended the decision to continue selling firearms. He listed “the steps [the company has] already taken,” such as not selling handguns and waiting for background checks to clear (the latter of which is more stringent than U.S. federal law).

McMillion said:

We’ve attempted to take commonsense steps that allow us to serve customers and create a safer environment. We estimate that we represent about 2 percent of the market for firearms today, which we believe places us outside at least the top three sellers in the industry. We estimate we have about a 20 percent share of ammunition.

In the national conversation around gun safety, we’re encouraged that broad support is emerging to strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who have been determined to pose an imminent danger. We do not sell military-style rifles, and we believe the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons ban should be debated to determine its effectiveness in keeping weapons made for war out of the hands of mass murderers. We must also do more to understand the root causes that lead to this type of violent behavior.

Why it matters: Decide where you stand on hot-button issues now and ensure you have talking points ready for any situations in which you’re pressed for a response. Don’t wait until pressure has pushed you up against the wall to share those responses, either.

McMillion’s statements come nearly two weeks after the mass shootings in Ohio and Texas—and they don’t really add new information, especially considering the elapsed time to craft the responses. Here’s the corporate-speak McMillion used to open his address:

… [W]e will strive to use these experiences to identify additional actions we can take to strengthen our processes, improve our technology and create an even safer environment in our stores. We’re also thinking through the broader issues related to gun violence and things we should do to help create safer communities.

Related reading:


Vulture recently published an article detailing the work of a team of data researchers for startup SpottedRisk, which “plans to sell ‘disgrace insurance’ to entertainment companies and commercial brands, making the risk of celebrity downfall as quantifiable and reimbursable as that of floods and car crashes.”

The article gave a peek into how PR crises, as well as publicity stunts, are measured and calculated:

Cuba Gooding Jr. had been arrested for allegedly groping a woman at a bar; soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo’s civil rape lawsuit had been moved to federal court.

Other “disgrace events,” as [SpottedRisk operations analyst Franki Slattery] called them, were harder to categorize. Rapper Lil Xan had pulled a gun on someone at a 7-Eleven over a dispute about Tupac. “They’ve started describing the situation as ‘assault with a deadly weapon,’” rather than the standard gun possession, Slattery said. Also, Lil Xan had used the N-word.

… In other news, Kim Kardashian was going to sponsor ride shares to ferry former prisoners to job interviews. It would be logged as a “cause,” a positive attribute, but was it also “politically outspoken,” a risk?

The accompanying visual also showed how reputation might be calculated:

It’s a fascinating look at risk management and crisis communications. Though SpottedRisk is aimed at analyzing the data for celebrity successes and missteps, what might this calculation look like for organizations seeking a reputation quotient, such as Papa John’s (which has just switched PR agencies again)?

Tweet us your thoughts @PRDaily and under the hashtag #MorningScoop.

Tiffany expands offerings to men

Diamonds are no longer just a girl’s best friend.

Tiffany & Co. just announced a new men’s collection, including almost 100 designs that it hopes will boost sagging sales.

Quartzy reported:

The conventional image of the Tiffany customer may be a woman, but [Reed Krakoff, Tiffany’s chief artistic officer] told the Associated Press that actually half of them are men, mostly buying women’s jewelry. The idea is that they’ll now have more products to choose from if they’re shopping for themselves, which a growing number probably are. According to data from market research provider Euromonitor International, sales of men’s luxury fine jewelry rose nearly 22% between 2013 and 2018, reaching roughly $5.8 billion. The firm projects those sales will increase to about $6.6 billion by 2023.

Impress your boss: Is there an audience you haven’t previously considered or an unconventional way that consumers are using your product or service? Show your boss the data, and make the business case for expanding your horizons. By pivoting your PR and marketing messages, you could attract a new crowd of customers and brand advocates.

Related reading:


Dunkin’ and Starbucks have plans to roll out the carpet for fall with upcoming pumpkin-themed items—and now Spam has jumped on the bandwagon.

That’s right: You can now add pumpkin-spice Spam to your Thanksgiving table.

It’s real, it’s delicious and it’s for your enjoyment. Look for limited edition SPAM® Pumpkin Spice 2-packs coming Sept. 23rd to and Eat one, save one!

Posted by SPAM on Thursday, August 15, 2019

The limited-edition product will be available through the Walmart website, as well as through its own site, starting Sept. 23.

The move has made headlines and sparked social media conversation, but many consumers reacted with disgust, rather than glee:

YouTube updates copyright policies

The social video platform published a blog post announcing that it altered its policies on manually claiming videos for copyright violations to “improve fairness in the creator ecosystem, white still respecting copyright owners’ rights to prevent unlicensed use of their content.”

The change is aimed at addressing YouTube influencers’ increasing backlash over music companies and other organizations claiming copyright of their videos without due recourse.

Engadget reported:

YouTube believes that by eliminating the money incentive, music owners will be less likely to go after the revenue of barely-infringing content. However, that remains to be seen — instead, labels could simply start to block more videos, which is what YouTube actually expects in the short term. To enforce the new system, it will remove the manual-claiming privileges of labels or other rights-holders that repeatedly break the new rules.

Why it matters: There are two takeaways for PR and marketing pros. First, keep your audiences’ needs and problems in mind. YouTube has struggled to address its content creators’ complaints, which could put it in a precarious position if those influencers leave that platform for another.

Second, err on the side of caution when creating content—be it social media images, infographics or videos. Protect your organization by not giving others a reason to claim a copyright violation.

Related reading:


We asked how you felt about the difference between “PR” and “publicity” to gauge how many industry pros feel about the debate today. Though many of you agree that the two terms are not interchangeable, most argue that publicity is a function of the PR role.

However, some of you said publicity and PR are not the same.

Andy Graham, founder of Agency Clear and current vice president of marketing for PRSA’s New York chapter, said the two should be considered separately.


It’s back-to-school time for many U.S. schoolchildren. However, you’re never too old to keep learning, and many employees say they want more employer-offered training and professional development.

What skills are you looking to pick up this fall, PR pros?

None of the above? Share your thoughts with the #MorningScoop.

(image via)

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