NASCAR alters stance on guns, GM workers strike, and Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcy

Also: Google’s tribute to B.B. King, smaller followings produce better engagement, how PR pros feel about crowdsourcing information, and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

Google is honoring the late B.B. King with its Sept. 16 Doodle, which showcases the life of the “King of the Blues,” from the Mississippi plantation where he was born to the arena stages where he performed worldwide. The video is set to King’s version of “The Thrill is Gone.”

King died May 14, 2015, at age 89. Google collaborated with the B.B. King Museum on the project marking his 94th birthday. One of the Doodle’s artists, Steve Spencer, hails from Little Rock, Arkansas, and the video’s art director, Angelica McKinley, is originally from Memphis, Tennessee.

The video is a great example of the power of storytelling—along with a reminder to emphasize authenticity in your tales. Google’s collaborative partners underline King’s story, with McKinley telling CNN that she hopes the video will help people understand the magnitude of King’s life.

How can you make your storytelling efforts more authentic and meaningful? Share your thoughts with us under the hashtag #MorningScoop.

Here are today’s top stories:

Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcy

On Sunday, the maker of OxyContin and other pharmaceuticals filed for Chapter 11 protection to shield itself from more than 2,600 federal and state lawsuits regarding the company’s role in the opioid crisis. Though 24 states and five territories have agreed to the bankruptcy filing as part of their settlements, 26 states plan to fight it in court.

Purdue Pharma denies the lawsuits’ claims, and the company’s chairman of the board of directors, Steve Miller, said the “settlement framework avoids wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and years on protracted litigation, and instead will provide billions of dollars and critical resources to communities across the country trying to cope with the opioid crisis.”

Why you should care: In most cases, the truth will eventually come to light, so if you’re hiding unethical or illegal actions or covering up unsavory behaviors within your organization, be prepared for a falling out once the news breaks. Not even an outstanding crisis communications campaign will substitute for being upfront when something is amiss.

The New York attorney general is investigating how much money Purdue’s owners, the Sacklers, have and whether there was anything afoot when the family wired roughly $1 billion among family members. Mortimer D.A. Sackler, a former member of Purdue’s board of directors, told CNN it was a “cynical attempt by a hostile AG’s office to generate defamatory headlines” but said there wouldn’t be any negative headlines (nor lawsuits) to worry about if Purdue’s business and marketing moves had been completely transparent and ethical.

Related reading:


A report from Trust Insights shows a significant difference between the engagement YouTube stars with giant followings get versus niche creators with more devoted audiences.

Here is how the top 100 creators fare:

Here’s how niche creators preformed:

For communicators and marketers who care about engagement (which should be everyone) a more targeted approach is more likely to succeed.

Nearly 50,000 GM workers strike

On Sunday night, 48,000 hourly employees with the United Auto Workers union walked out of 31 General Motors factories and 21 other facilities in nine states. The union said that keeping open four assembly and transmission plants in Michigan is one of the demands, but workers are also asking for affordable health care coverage, higher wages and other benefits.

General Motors’ last workers strike was 12 years ago.

Why it matters: Get ahead of a narrative that pits your organization on one side and your employees on another. You can do this by focusing on outstanding employee communications and a workplace culture in which employees feel heard, their ideas are considered and their concerns get validated.

Related reading:


If you’re frustrated by the lack of diversity within your organization, get executives and other stakeholders on board by making the business case for it—and then be accountable to your commitments. Janet Stovall, executive communications manager at UPS, outlines how you can do it.

Learn more from Stovall at Ragan’s Employee Communications, PR & Social Media Summit at Microsoft, Oct. 2-4. If you can’t join us in person, register to virtually attend the event and glean powerful insights from Stovall, along with speakers from Nike, Taco Bell, Universal Orlando Resorts, Amazon, Google and more.

NASCAR modifies policy on firearms ads

Over the summer, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing rejected ads depicting assault-style or sniper rifles, and a media sales agent confirmed to a few clients in the firearms industry that NASCAR has had a “gradual shift” in its position on guns.

The decision follows other organizations’ changes to gun policies and statements requesting that patrons not carry firearms into their locations. Walmart, Kroger, Publix, CVS, Albertsons and more have made headlines recently for their stances.

 Why it matters: Organizations across many industries are going public with their gun policies to bolster their reputations as more and more consumers push them to take a stand on the issue. However, NASCAR has been silent about its advertising policy change, which isn’t surprising considering that a large part of its fans support and even advocate for gun rights. In today’s increasingly tumultuous political and social landscape, PR pros take a risk when they speak out about issues, especially if it might anger a sizable chunk of its audience.

Related reading


We asked you about your attitude toward crowdsourcing information and consumer feedback, and 43% of you were all for hearing what your audience thinks. An additional 38% of you said it was OK to ask for opinions, provided there are guidelines for audience members’ votes:

Implementing clear instructions can lessen the potential for social media users to jokingly call your next product or initiative a silly name, such as “Boaty McBoatface.” Doing so can also help you better connect with audiences to learn more about what they think—useful for future product and service offerings, as well as messaging campaigns.

Learn more about promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace with these insights from UPS’ executive communications manager, Janet Stovall.


You might want to sit down while you read this: Standing desks aren’t the only answer for workplace wellness.

What are your thoughts on the trend?

Please share your thoughts with us under the hashtag #MorningScoop.


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One Response to “NASCAR alters stance on guns, GM workers strike, and Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcy”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    The Purdue bankruptcy is a PR failure, a tragedy for the public, a failure to increase public awareness of the TRUTH.

    WHAT THE PUBLIC THINKS is reflected by the report: “the truth will eventually come to light so if you’re hiding unethical or illegal actions, or covering up unsavory behavior within your organization, be prepared for a falling out once the news breaks.”

    Much of the public thinks Purdue is like a producer and pusher—unethical and perhaps illegal—of addictive drugs that are killing thousands.

    THE ACTUAL TRUTH is that Purdue is a pharmaceutical company making a medicine that has helped MILLIONS of patients to avoid agony after being prescribed by thousands of dedicated doctors and given to patients by thousands of hospitals worldwide including almost ALL major U.S. hospitals.

    THE PR FAILURE was not making known the TRUTHS that (1) OxyCodone (which was prescribed for me for three weeks for severe shingles pain) is excellent for pain but (2) is dangerous as hell, as many medicines are if not used according to doctor instructions.

    WHAT PR COULD HAVE DONE is to use a PR firm like Edelman–orone f the great PR firms affiliated with WPP, Omnicom, Interpublic or Publicis–with an advertising affiliate to do full page ads in 1,000 newspapers where Purdue says: “URGENT: Follow instructions of your doctor. OxyCodone is almost a blessing for relief of pain which is why thousands of doctors prescribe it but is ADDICTIVE if over-used so never take more than your doctor ordered!”

    “TRUST YOUR DOCTOR” ADS could have increased sales of the product, decreased product misuse and addictions, and prevented widespread blame of Purdue for making and selling an excellent product prescribed by excellent doctors. “Trust your doctor” ads from a great PR firm could have done good for the public, good for doctors and good for drug companies.

    The ads could have prevented the bankruptcy, reduced the number of doctors not prescribing pain relief that patients in agony need, plus leaving the owners of Purdue to be way richer and regarded as heroes instead of villains.. The Purdue owners deserve this, the pubic deserves it, doctors deserve it, and PR could have made it happen.