Optimizing your op-ed, Instagram eyes TikTok-like videos, and Canada’s PM apologizes for ‘brownface’ photo

Also: J&J fires back over opioid protest, KFC builds buzz with doughnut sandwich, PR pros name top crisis of 2019, and more.

Good morning PR pros:

The Fed is injecting more cash into markets, its third straight daily injection intended to revive an economy weighed down by global trade fears.

This is the first time the bank has taken such action since the global recession 10 years ago, and other watchdogs say the world economy will slow to its lowest growth since the financial crisis.

Communicators are responsible for explaining complex market moves and allaying stakeholder fears about a possible market downturn. That means it is essential to create credibility and operate with transparency so that when you push back on market skepticism, you have the cachet with your audience to make your case.

How are you talking about global recession concerns, PR pros?

Here are today’s top stories:

Canadian P.M. apologizes for photo with ‘brownface’

Justin Trudeau wore a costume and dark makeup to a 2001 Arabian Nights party that many now say were racist. The prime minister, who is in a contested reelection campaign, apologized for the photo, saying his views of his actions had evolved.

The New York Times reported:

“This is something I shouldn’t have done many years ago,” Mr. Trudeau said. “It was something that I didn’t think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do, and I am deeply sorry.”

He added: “I’m going to be asking Canadians to forgive me.”

The photograph appeared in the school’s 2000-01 yearbook, Time said, adding that it had obtained a copy of the yearbook, The View, from a Vancouver businessman who first saw the image in July and felt that it should be made public.

 Why it matters: This isn’t the first time—and it won’t be the last—that a public figure has to address prior actions that no longer conform to modern mores. Whether Trudeau’s apology will help him weather the storm is an interesting test case for crisis communicators and brand managers. His response has been better than Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s response to a similar photo.

Related Reading:


According to a new study from Pinkston, the op-ed has undergone radical transformations as the media landscape has shifted. Some newspapers are still worth targeting with your thought leadership essays, but other outlets are becoming just as effective.

When deciding where to publish your CEO’s next round of industry insights, consider an online publication or blog-hosting sites like Medium. Also consider format, such as the video op-ed, or a podcast appearance.

The study wrote:

The video op-ed is gaining traction as a new platform, and thought leaders are increasingly capitalizing on the expansion of this new platform. Op-Docs, The New York Times editorial department’s award-winning forum for short, opinionated documentaries, accepts written pitches with representative footage. Similarly, The Wall Street Journal introduced an interview series in 2017 called “In the Elevator With,” featuring various CEOs interviewed by host, Joanna Stern.

KFC brings doughnuts to the chicken fracas

After being left out of the viral tiff between Chick-fil-A and Popeyes over fried chicken sandwich offerings, KFC has now thrown its hat in the ring with a bona fide artery clogger.

The chain says it will offer chicken and doughnuts, which customers can combine as a sandwich.

Business Insider reported:

The options are a basket that pairs chicken on the bone or chicken tenders with one or two doughnuts, and a sandwich with a chicken fillet between two glazed doughnuts.

The chicken-and-doughnut meal will cost $5.50 for one doughnut and $7.50 for two doughnuts. The sandwich is priced at $6, or as a combo meal for $8. KFC said customers can also add a doughnut — served hot — to any meal for $1.

What you should know: KFC is trying something big and bold to recapture attention after its competitors dominated a news cycle. The offering is getting plenty of mentions on Twitter. Will the move make waves on social media and convert into sales, as happened for Popeyes?

Reviews are mixed:

Related reading:


A protestor wanted to take the fight over opioid addiction to a drug manufacturer—specifically Johnson & Johnson, which has been fined $572 million so far. The activist brought a giant spoon, a symbol of heroin use, and left it in front of J&J’s offices. The spoon has the company’s name etched into the handle.

The move got plenty of attention on social media and in traditional outlets:

However, J&J denies the implications that it is responsible for the opioid crisis, though it tried to strike a balanced tone in its response.

NJ.com reported:

“Johnson & Johnson did not cause the opioid crisis in Oklahoma or elsewhere,” the company’s vice president, Ernie Knewitz, said in a statement about the protest. He noted that drug production is regulated by the FDA and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

“At the same time, we recognize that the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health issue and have deep sympathy for everyone affected,” the statement said.

Instagram working on TikTok-like features

The photo-sharing platform that has ripped off popular features from Snapchat is now looking to add favorites from the growing platform “TikTok.” The new tool, called “Clips,” will offer many capabilities offered by TikTok.

Social Media Today wrote:

…this week, reverse engineering expert Jane Manchun Wong has found that Instagram is once again replicating a competitor’s features, this time with TikTok in the firing line.

“Just like TikTok, “Clips” allows users to record segments of videos into a single video Story. Just like TikTok, users can overlay music on clips. Just like TikTok, users can adjust the speed and timer of each video clips.”

What you should know: TikTok has seemingly stumbled upon a winning content format, so don’t expect the short, funny videos to go anywhere. However, before dumping a lot of resources into content that will work only on TikTok, make sure you can repurpose and share anything you make, because TikTok won’t be the only player in short video for long.

Related reading:


We asked what you thought were the biggest crises of 2019, and the consensus pick was Boeing’s 737 Max fiasco.



A lot has changed about the communications profession and how it is practiced in the last decade.

What has been the biggest change in the PR industry in the last 10 years?

Share your thoughts with the hashtag #MorningScoop.

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