Netflix leader defends Chappelle program to employees, US marketers increase diversity in content, and Facebook outlines protections for public figures

Also: Hotels.com searches for bathtub influencer, Chipotle execs explain strategy for investing in talent, and more.

Hello, communicators:

Hotels.com is launching a contest to find a bath connoisseur—or “Bath Boss”—that it hopes will help save the hotel bathtub as an amenity for guests.

The company will award its Bath Boss with two nights each at luxury Manhattan hotels Mr. C Seaport, The Dominick and The Langham where they will be “exploring each property’s soaking selections, with the main duty of luxuriating in their epic tubs and documenting the journey,” according to a press release. On top of the trip, winners will receive a travel stipend and $5,000, bath accessories, a robe and more.

Courtesy of Hotels.com

“We are seeing less and less of the hotel bath as space limitations or lack of use push the amenity to only the most luxurious hotels,” said Shannon Lovich, the head of PR and communications North America at Hotels.com. “We are passionate about this classic component of hotel life and wanted to bring light to the important cause of saving the hotel bath.”

The Bath Boss campaign not only provides a fun opportunity for Hotels.com to bring awareness to what the brand considers to be a major loss in hotel culture, but also demonstrates the brand’s commitment to customer experience. The timing of this contest, as pandemic-related travel restrictions ease, also highlights the brand’s attempt to position travel as a fun and relaxing experience.

Here are today’s top stories:

Netflix’s Ted Sarandos defends Dave Chappelle after backlash

Netflix’s co-chief executive Ted Sarandos sent a letter to the entire company addressing rising controversy over the latest special from comic Dave Chappelle. “The Closer” has been the subject of controversy for the comic’s jokes about the transgender community, which include Chappelle identifying himself as a TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) and implying that anyone who thinks he is transphobic is racist.

Variety reports:

“We know that a number of you have been left angry, disappointed and hurt by our decision to put Dave Chappelle’s latest special on Netflix,” Sarandos wrote in an email obtained by Variety.

“With ‘The Closer,’ we understand that the concern is not about offensive-to-some content but titles which could increase real world harm (such as further marginalizing already marginalized groups, hate, violence etc.) Last year, we heard similar concerns about 365 Days and violence against women. While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm,” he said.

The special has prompted outrage from Netflix staff, and some have scheduled a walkout protest in response.

A Twitter thread written by a Netflix employee who identifies as trans went viral online:

Why it matters:

While some studies support Sarandos’ assertion that the effects of on-screen violence on real-world events are minimal, inserting such data in his messaging would be a stronger argument than claiming he has a “strong belief.” Sarandos’ words also serve as a reminder that making employees feel seen requires more than just increasing diversity on content teams.


MEASURED THOUGHTS

Shuttershock’s 2021 Diversity Report revealed that there has been a 23% upswing in marketing campaigns featuring same-sex couples or nontraditional families in the U.S. over the past 12 months, while 61% agree that Black Lives Matter (BLM) and the Stop Asian Hate movements have significantly impacted their content decisions in the past year. Meanwhile, just 17% of marketers are using more content featuring models over the age of 50.

 “To authentically connect with audiences around the world, diversity in marketing is crucial,” wrote Shutterstock.  “More and more, studies reveal that people want to feel represented in the media they consume—and it’s up to marketers to respect and celebrate their consumers’ identities.”

Check out the full report here.


THE WORKFORCE

Marissa Andrada, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for Chipotle joined with CFO Jack Hartung to speak about the company’s approach to investing in people and talent during CNBC’s Work Summit yesterday.

CNBC reports:

Andrada says (Chipotle) has been able to attract and retain talent by making an investment in workers ahead of the pandemic rather than as a sudden response to it. “We feel like the investments we made in people in the past couple of years have set us up for the rest of the world opening up,” Andrada said at CNBC’s @Work Summit on Wednesday.

Hartung, who spoke with Andrada at the CNBC event, said since the company runs all of its restaurants it has to look at an investment in people in a different way than as a typical profit & loss cost. “If you look at it that way, the main objective is to minimize cost.” For Chipotle, “almost all managers in the future will come from the crews of today,” Hartung said. “So every dime we spend on that labor line, whether wages or benefits or education is an investment in the future, and that’s a different way to think about it.”

“We stated as a goal that we wanted to exit the pandemic stronger than we came into it,” Hartung said. “We don’t want to just eke through, we want to make sure we make investments along way that make us stronger.”

Andrada’s statement about hiring for the long term echoes an old crisis communications adage to be “proactive, not reactive.” Hartung also emphasizes the effectiveness of analyzing your talent investment in qualitative terms, not just quantitative, which demonstrates an interest in employee’s long-term aspirations and careers.


TAKE OUR SURVEY

If you’re looking for benchmark data to show your bosses the next time you ask for a raise, lend us a hand—and help yourself and your peers while you’re at it. Participate in Ragan’s Salary & Workplace Culture Survey, a comprehensive look at salaries, benefits, culture, bonuses and other aspects of the job in a fast-moving industry.

Both internal and external communicators are encouraged to participate.

By taking part, you will receive a $150 discount to a Ragan virtual conference of your choice and be entered to win one of five $50 gift cards. All who complete the survey will receive a full report on the findings. Responses are anonymous.

Facebook updates online bulling policies to include journalists and politicians

Facebook announced updates to its global bullying and harassment policies that the social network says will better protect users who are especially vulnerable to online abuse. Those groups include celebrities, content creators, politicians and journalists.

According to its blog post:

On National Bullying Prevention and Awareness Day in the US, we’re announcing updates to our global bullying and harassment policies to better protect members of our community, particularly those who may be vulnerable to online abuse.

Public figures—whether they’re politicians, journalists, celebrities or creators—use Facebook and Instagram to engage directly with their followers. We’re always trying to strike the right balance between protecting them from abuse and allowing open dialogue about them on our apps. Our bullying and harassment policy differentiates between public figures and private individuals to enable freedom of expression and legitimate public discourse around those in the public eye.

We also recognize that becoming a public figure isn’t always a choice, and that this fame can increase the risk of bullying and harassment—particularly if the person comes from an underrepresented community, including women, people of color or the LGBTQ community. Consistent with the commitments made in our corporate human rights policy, we’ll now offer more protections for public figures like journalists and human rights defenders who have become famous involuntarily or because of their work. These groups will now have protections from harmful content, for example content that ranks their physical looks, as other involuntary public figures do. The full list of protections for public figures, including involuntary public figures, can be found in our Community Standards.

What it means:

Following a crisis-laden past few weeks that included a Wall Street Journal investigative series and a whistleblower testifying before Congress, Facebook’s revised policies hope to find a solution to several of its reputational problems at one throw. By adding journalists and politicians into the mix as “involuntary public figures,” the social network also creates a precedent for limiting disinformation about those public figures that can have wider ramifications beyond bullying.

By explicitly stating its commitment to protect journalists and politicians, Facebook also extends a virtual olive branch to some of its biggest critics. This gesture serves as an example of how you can engage detractors in your messaging by acknowledging their needs and concerns to build goodwill that hopefully strengthens relationships.

COMMENT

One Response to “Netflix leader defends Chappelle program to employees, US marketers increase diversity in content, and Facebook outlines protections for public figures”

    Ronald N Levy says:

    Courage is not just shown on a battlefield when you have no way to escape from being shot at. It can take even more courage, because you COULD escape, to be a CEO like Ted Sarandos when activists are yelling and threatening you.

    It may seem safer for a CEO or a communications chief to just give in to the activists and do what they want so they stop yelling and cursing at how awful you are. But your doing what’s right rather than giving in can be better for the public and for your organization.

    Defend your people! When Fleishman Hillard’s West Coast chief was unjustly accused, .they gave him a million for legal expenses to defend himself. A whole million! When another PR firm’s client was accused by cursing activists, that other PR firm promptly resigned the account rather than facing the fire and defending the client. But look at the effect of taking the seemingly easier way out.

    If you were a PR superstar that every major PR firm would love to employ, which firm would you rather be part of, Fleishman Hillard or the PR firm that resigned an accused’s account? How about if you headed the committee selecting a PR firm for a major account—would you trust the PR firm that resigned or Fleishman Hillard?

    Major accounts get accused all the time.

    In truth, doing the right thing as Ted Sarandos has done can be right not only morally but in money. The doers of good in management, as among doctors, lawyers and cleaning ladies, can enjoy not only more pride but more job success. Notice how Netflix and Fleishman Hillard keep doing better and better while quitters stagnate or worse.

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