Netflix gets spicy on Twitter, YouTube slammed for ‘Rewind,’ and Uber touts transparency with safety report

Also: Spotify sparks engagement with its annual data roundup, United chief to step down, decrees ‘existential’ its word of the year, and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

Netflix might be on Santa’s naughty list for its recent tweet asking followers what you can say during sex but “also when you manage a brand Twitter account”:

However, adding a healthy dollop of spice to a sea of holiday social media messages served as the perfect recipe for engagement. Here’s a sampling of the plethora of social media managers from Universal Orlando Resorts, Yelp, Axe, Aer Lingus, Animal Planet and more who quickly jumped into the conversation:

It goes to show that being risqué in a lighthearted way can help you engage followers with humor, while also highlighting your brand’s—er, proposition. Share your thoughts under the #MorningScoop hashtag.

Here are today’s top stories:

YouTube takes heat for 2019 ‘rewind’

The social media platform just released its annual “YouTube Rewind” video, which acknowledged its content creation disaster from last year. (Its 2018 video is still the most unpopular on the platform, with more than 17 million downvotes.)

However, YouTube hasn’t turned the tide in its favor. Instead, this year’s compilation, which at time of publishing has more than 17 million views, has racked up more than 2.3 million downvotes in less than 24 hours (almost double the video’s upvotes). Social media users ridiculed the company on YouTube and Twitter, with many complaining that the effort was “too safe.”

Despite the backlash for the second year in a row, YouTube struck back with snarky comments of its own—which seem to be garnering praise, even if its original video isn’t.

Why it matters: Data can (and should) inform your storytelling efforts, but the numbers shouldn’t make you seem as if you’re reciting a list of your organization’s accomplishments or that you’ve taken minimal time in splicing together a report. Instead, tailor the data you gather, so it creates an emotional response in the recipients.

Personalize statistics whenever possible, and try a few exercises to get your creativity flowing on new and fun ways to present what can otherwise be seen as boring and dry.


Legal teams and communicators can often be at loggerheads, but it’s crucial for communications to be a priority when making decisions in a legal dispute. Crisis communications expert Andrew Gilman looks at Backcountry and its recent legal efforts to defend its brand.

Read the full account to learn how you can navigate the treacherous ground around legal issues.

United chief to step aside

United Airlines’ chief executive, Oscar Munoz, announced he’ll relinquish that office in May to become the airline’s chairman. Scott Kirby, United’s current president, will take the CEO reins.

CNN Business reported:

“When I joined United as CEO, I laid out ambitious goals to build a new spirit of United by regaining the trust of our employees and customers — and I’m proud of how far we’ve come,” Munoz said. “With United in a stronger position than ever, now is the right time to begin the process of passing the baton to a new leader.”

Understandably missing from Munoz’s statement is the reputational struggle that United has undergone following its 2017 PR crisis, in which a passenger was dragged off a plane. Munoz’s immediate response sparked additional backlash, and the chief was slow to issue a more sensitive apology.


Spotify also delivered the gift of data to listeners with its “2019 Wrapped” Twitter thread and top streaming trends of the year, along with additional stats. Each statistic was packaged in a bright, short and visually appealing video.

Spotify also delivered each user a personalized video package of the year’s top artists, songs and podcasts, along with the number of minutes the user had spent streaming on the platform. Users quickly turned to Twitter, Instagram and more to share their summaries and hashtags #SpotifyWrapped and #SpotifyWrapped2019 quickly trended. Many artists also shared their streaming and listener stats:

By personalizing data to each user and artist, Spotify avoided YouTube’s misstep and sparked engagement across social media platforms as people shared their results. The compilations resulted in both hashtags’ garnering hundreds of social media mentions in less than 24 hours, with the overall sentiment standing at a 9-to-1 positive-to-negative ratio, according to Social Searcher.

Uber touts transparency with safety report  

The ride-hailing service has released its 2017–18 safety report, which reveals that the company received 3,045 reports of sexual assaults during rides in the United States in 2018. Gizmodo reports that Uber’s 2017’s numbers “tell a nearly identical story.” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted that “doing the right thing means counting, confronting, and taking action” and that “companies who are open, accountable, and unafraid are ultimately the companies that succeed.”

Khosrowshahi’s words are echoed in Uber’s executive summary for the report, which reads, in part:

People have the right to know about the safety records of the companies they rely on every day. And we believe that publishing this data will help us develop best practices that will prevent serious safety incidents from occurring in the first place.

CNN Business reported:

In its report, Uber repeatedly attempted to contextualize the number of sexual assaults as a percentage of total rides, saying from the start that 99.9% of rides occur without incident. It also contextualized its incidents of sexual assault and homicide by citing national rates.

The report included information on the reporting party and the accused party and claimed riders account for 45% of the accused parties of sexual assault incidents. The report said “drivers have a right to have their experiences told, and we have a responsibility to stand with them.”

Why you should care: The report itself and Uber’s announcement constitute a mixed bag. On the positive side, Uber lists its background check process (including that 1 million prospective drivers didn’t make it through its screening) and the safety features it’s released throughout the years to make both riders and drivers safer. Making statements supporting corporate transparency also can increase stakeholder trust.

On the negative side, too much contextualizing of bad news can suggest your organization is shirking responsibility. Even Khosrowshashi said in his Twitter thread that some “will say we have more work do to.” Though he acknowledged that they’re correct, a stronger stance would have been to declare on his own that Uber has more work to do.

SOCIAL BUZZ chose “existential” as its word of the year.

The resource wrote in a blog post that the term “captures a sense of grappling with the survival—literally and figuratively—of our planet, our loved ones, our ways of life.” It also “inspires us to ask big questions about who we are and what our purpose is in the face of our various challenges—and it reminds us that we can make choices about our lives in how we answer those questions.”

The word was selected because searches for it “spiked throughout 2019,” especially after both politicians and activists used it when talking about climate change. said that when presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called climate change an “existential crisis,” searches for the term rose more than 179%.


We asked your view on branded podcasts and how you’ll be using them in the year ahead. Though 25% of you said you’re planning to integrate the format into your efforts, and 19% said you’re already employing it, the plurality (38%) said you don’t have enough time nor resources to create branded podcasts. An additional 19% felt that the podcasting landscape is already too crowded with brand messages.

Looking for more information about podcasting? Check out case studies from Trek Bicycles and Toyota.


Trust in news media and digital content continues to wane as newsrooms shrink and both publications and social media platforms battle fake news and misinformation. How do you see PR’s responsibility in this fight?

Share additional thoughts below and under #MorningScoop, and we’ll feature them in our next roundup.


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2 Responses to “Netflix gets spicy on Twitter, YouTube slammed for ‘Rewind,’ and Uber touts transparency with safety report”

    Simon DelMonte says:

    I cannot believe that any company is doing sleazy sex jokes on their social media accounts. Doesn’t anyone have standards anymore?

    Christina Guyton says:

    Everyone loves to see a brand humanize itself on social, including personal responses, trolling its competitors and engaging with other brands. Netflix’s recent tweet, enticing brands to respond, garnered massive engagement, from organizations and consumers alike. This lighthearted tactic was fun and increased social conversation, especially from the younger generations.

    As for Spotify’s annual “Wrapped,” the brand is using raw data to appeal to its consumers. As a user myself, I always look forward to looking back on the past year through my listening behaviors. It elicits a feeling of nostalgia; songs can be related to memories, and Spotify has capitalized on this. Because Spotify listeners post their personal “Wrapped” to social, I’m curious to see how many non-users become members in order to join in on the fun the following year. -Christina Guyton, writer/editor for Platform Magazine