PR exec draws ire over secret industry news site purchase, Black Americans want greater ESG effort and Abbott responds to recall of baby formula
Also: Ulta Beauty shares partnership with Rihanna’s Fenty brand on social media, and more.
Ulta Beauty teased and then revealed its partnership with Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty brand on Twitter this week with a nod to the viral online word game Wordle:
THIS IS NOT A DRILL 🤩✨ @fentybeauty by @rihanna is coming to Ulta Beauty!
🧡 online & select stores 2/27 (call your store to see)
🧡 all stores nationwide 3/6 pic.twitter.com/eFezGlbhe5
— Ulta Beauty (@ultabeauty) February 17, 2022
Rather than a traditional press release, the beauty company took to social media to announce that Fenty products will be sold in its stores starting March 6.
It also didn’t hurt that Rihanna herself announced the news to her 104M+ Twitter followers and 121M+ Instagram followers.
Influencer marketing is a powerful tool, even more so when your company’s paid partners promote the relationship themselves, rather than simply appearing in your organization’s promotions and ads.
Here are today’s other top stories:
NYC PR exec takes heat over clandestine purchase of industry news site
An investigation by media reporter Keith Kelly found New York PR exec Ronn Torossian, leader for 5WPR, secretly purchased industry news site Everything-PR (EPR) and used it to sing the praises of his own agency, 5WPR, and attack professional rivals.
Kelly writes in Crain’s New York Business that Torossian denied ownership of EPR as recently as this past December, despite having purchased the site for $2,500 in 2014. The former owners allege that when Torossian took over, he erased old bylines and replaced them with fabricated names. Torossian declined to comment on the Crain’s story.
The New York chapter of PRSA released a statement condemning Torossian’s actions as “a cowardly and blatant violation of PSRA’s Code of Ethics” and said the scandal “undermines our role as guardians of facts and integrity for those we serve.”
Crain’s New York Business reports:
In one instance of self-promotion on the site, an article published on Oct. 29, 2020, about the top crisis management firms, gave a glowing review to Torossian’s own business.
“This agency is known as street fighters, an agency ‘in the know’ with the ability to turn stories around. There is no more aggressive PR crisis PR agency in the United States than 5WPR,” the site gushed.
In an example of bashing a rival, the site wrote about Kwittken PR and urged readers to “stay away.”
Why it matters: Torossian is an influential figure in the world of PR, known for “a well-documented, take-no-prisoners management style that rankled rivals as well as many executives who came to work for him,” Kelly writes. A Google search of his name brings up countless self-authored blog posts and thought leadership pieces (including several on PR Daily) about how to be successful in the industry—many of which reference being open, honest and transparent.
Torossian’s move is an example of how not to go about establishing executive brand and thought leadership. Be vocal and share your thoughts with the as many audiences as you can, yes—but don’t try to disguise the self-interest you have in sharing your message. The truth will always come out.
New research from Morning Consult shows 72% of Black adults in America believe it’s important for the companies or stories they shop with to sell products that are created by Black and other minority-owned businesses.
That number is significantly higher than the percentage of the general population U.S. adults who said they believe the same thing.
According to the study, Black Americans are also more likely than the general population to want the companies they patronize to make statements on current political and social issues—by more than 10 percentage points in each area.
As data continues to support the idea that Americans want organizations to take a stand on social issues, it’s crucial to note that it’s even more important for your more diverse audiences.
Check out more from Morning Consult here.
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Abbott recalls baby formula over contamination concerns
Medical devices and health care company Abbott voluntarily recalled three types of powder baby formula after four babies became sick after consuming the products.
A press release from Abbott says the formulas were contaminated with salmonella or a type of Cronobacter bacteria at one of its manufacturing facilities.
The Food and Drug Administration warned consumers not to use or purchase the formulas or certain powdered infant formula produced at the facility.
“The FDA is investigating complaints of four infant illnesses from three states,” the agency said in a statement on Thursday. “All four cases related to these complaints were hospitalized and Cronobacter may have contributed to a death in one case.”
Along with the voluntary recall, Abbott created a landing page where parents can enter information about purchased formula to determine if it is part of the recall. The company and its brands also issued warnings on social media about the potential dangers of the formula:
We’re initiating a proactive, voluntary recall of powder formulas manufactured at our Sturgis, MI plant, including Similac, Alimentum and EleCare.
More info: https://t.co/lIZ35dRekh pic.twitter.com/AI8JbuwPyN
— Abbott (@AbbottNews) February 18, 2022
From the press release:
“We know parents depend on us to provide them with the highest quality nutrition formulas,” said Joe Manning, executive vice president, nutritional products, Abbott. “We’re taking this action so parents know they can trust us to meet our high standards, as well as theirs. We deeply regret the concern and inconvenience this situation will cause parents, caregivers and health care professionals.”
What it means: In a crisis, it’s essential to offer as much information as possible. Abbott covered its legal bases by issuing the recall, but is also using social media channels to communicate about the risk to consumers—a crucial step in protecting its brand reputation.
While it’s always important to address legal concerns first, communicators should think about how they can offer support and reassurance to anxious audiences in the wake of any safety recall or similar crisis.
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“The fast pace of change coupled with the demand on public relations professionals to protect and sometimes defend their company’s reputation make it imperative for leaders to tap into the wisdom of other communicators and continue to learn and grow,” says Diane Schwartz, CEO of Ragan Communications. “The PR Daily Leadership Network provides the answers but also encourages members to question the status quo and push for positive change.”
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