Popeyes’ chicken sandwich gooses profits, Google’s HR exec steps aside, and Tyson lays off 500

Also: Email apps are scraping consumers’ data to sell, Clorox focuses on sustainability to entice young consumers, stats on Europeans working from home, and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

The chicken sandwich wars aren’t just boosting the Popeyes Chicken brand and marketing efforts: They’re also proving lucrative.

CNN Business reported:

Restaurant Brands International, which owns Popeyes, Burger King and Tim Hortons, reported Monday that sales at all Popeyes restaurants jumped about 42% to $1.3 billion in the last three months of 2019 compared to the same period a year before. At Popeyes restaurants open at least 17 months, sales jumped 34%.

The company’s stock jumped about 4% before the market opened Monday.

Here are today’s top stories:

Google’s HR executive steps aside

The company’s vice president of people operations, Eileen Naughton, is stepping down from that role after four years and in the wake of several employee crises. Though Naughton announced that she was moving to a different position at Google to “return home to New York to be closer to our family,” Naughton has dealt with accusations that Google fired employees for organizing unions. There also have been employee walkouts and backlash over the company’s town hall policy, which curtails open discussion in an effort to stop internal information leaks.

TechCrunch reported:

In a statement to the press, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said, “Over the past 13 years, Eileen has made major contributions to the company in numerous areas, from media partnerships, to leading our UK operations, to leading our People Operations team through a period of significant growth—during which over 70,000 people have started their careers at Google. We’re grateful to Eileen for all she’s done and look forward to her next chapter at Google.”

Why it matters: CNBC reported that last year, Google “rolled out an overhaul to how its human resources department responds to complaints,” which is “a problem for some who feel their needs are now outsourced to people who don’t have prior knowledge or understanding of the situation.” Maintaining a posititive and thriving workforce culture can help you avoid crises as well as retain talent, but that can’t happen if you’re not listening and responding to employees’ feedback and concerns. It’s especially important to work with employees leading up to and during times of change, such as executive departures. (Alphabet’s co-chief executives and presidents stepped down in December, and Google’s chief legal officer retired in January.)

MEASURED THOUGHTS

The European Commission’s Eurostat recently published statistics that show more employees now “sometimes work from home” (an increase from 5.8% in 2008 to 8.3% in 2018).

The report also showed that more women (5.5%) than men (5%) work from home, and workers ages 50-64 constitute 6.4% of those who usually work from home, compared with 5% of 25- to 49-year-olds. Only 1.8% of 15- to 24-year-olds avoid the commute to their workplace.

Image courtesy of Eurostat.

 These numbers are especially useful for communicators working with global teams and clients, and it can serve as a reminder to anticipate and provide flexibility with meetings and other workforce activities.

Tyson to cut 500 jobs

 The company will lay off roughly 500 employees, with most terminations in Tyson’s corporate offices in Chicago and Springdale, Arkansas. Some 2,500 employees work in the two locations.

 ABC 7 KATV reported:

“We have an ongoing focus on financial fitness to make sure our business remains competitive. This means we’re continually reviewing our resources including staffing levels. We’ve recently reduced some roles and relocated others. It’s always difficult to eliminate and move jobs, and we’re doing this only after careful consideration,” Tyson Foods corporate spokesman Gary Mickelson told Talk Business & Politics in an email.

Why you should care: Layoffs can afford communicators an exercise in how to (or how not to) announce bad news, but the spate of job cuts across organizations and industries highlights another lesson: Don’t rest on your laurels—or current skill set. With many organizations reducing their overhead expenses and looking to operate a lean and mean corporate structure, the employees who remain are those who demonstrate skills and knowledge with current trends and best practices and can adapt to different focuses and job scopes. Stay competitive by learning a new skill or brushing up on one that might be rusty.


TACTICALLY SPEAKING

 Procter & Gamble’s Clorox was founded more than a century ago, but its rebrand hopes to lure younger consumers by carrying a “more relateable image” and emphasizing its sustainability efforts.

 Adweek reported:

The end-game of Clorox’s rebrand was to sharpen its purpose, creating a more “emotional way of connecting to our consumers,” according to Magnus Jonsson, Clorox Co.’s U.S. cleaning division vp. The brand also wanted to ensure it was presenting a consistent image to shoppers.

Jonsson said it focused on millennials because they’re settling down, starting families and beginning to pay attention to brands that can make it easier to keep a clean house or prevent the spread of germs. To reach millennials, Jonsson said Clorox is working to create a more authentic and sustainable marketing approach that “drives optimism into the brand.”

Email apps are selling consumers’ data

An investigative report by Vice’s Joseph Cox and Motherboard revealed that several email productivity apps—including Edison, Rakuten’s Slice and Foxintelligence’s Cleanfox—scrape users’ emails and sell the collected data.

Cox wrote:

A dataset obtained by Motherboard shows what some of the information pulled from free email app users’ inboxes looks like. A spreadsheet containing data from Rakuten’s Slice, an app that scrapes a user’s inbox so they can better track packages or get their money back once a product goes down in price, contains the item that an app user bought from a specific brand, what they paid, and an unique identification code for each buyer. Last month the company created a page on its website telling users how to opt-out from the sale of their data. Rakuten told Motherboard in an email this was introduced to comply with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Though Edison declined to comment, Foxintelligence executives argued that its methods strike a balance between delivering value and respecting users’ privacy.

Cox wrote:

“From a higher perspective, we believe crowd-sourced transaction data has a transformational power both for consumers and for companies and that a marketplace where value can be created for both sides without making any compromise on privacy is possible,” Foxintelligence Chief Operating Officer Florian Cleyet-Merle told Motherboard in an email.

Business Insider reported:

In an email to Business Insider, Foxintelligence CEO Edouard Nattée emphasized that the company discloses to new users that it uses anonymized data from “transactional emails.”

“What we do is precisely the opposite of what companies like Facebook or Google are doing. We are building a model where the users get a free product and still, the user doesn’t become the product,” Nattée said.

Why it’s important: Though the apps and their companies disclose the information they gather, they’re doing so through strategies including opt-out pages that many users ignore, leading to most being unaware that their data is harvested for marketing purposes. As consumers’ privacy concerns grow—along with data-gathering regulations—figure out how you’re going to obtain consumer data along with ways to clearly disclose your efforts. Doing so before you’re forced to comply can help you avoid decreased trust and tattered relationships with consumers.


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked if your organization was having conversations about coronavirus and how the health crisis is affecting your business and employees. Half of respondents said they were talking about the disease that has disrupted supply chains and business operations in and out of China.

A little over one-fifth of respondents said the outbreak doesn’t affect their business, and about 12% have no plans to talk about the coronavirus at all.


SOUNDING BOARD

 Do you have a least-favorite example of email jargon? Take our poll, or tweet your own submissions @PRDaily with the hashtag #MorningScoop.

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