Spotify tests ‘Stories’ feature, Salesforce mulls Slack acquisition, and ‘pandemic’ is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year

Also: U.K. grocers unite for anti-racism campaign, The Walt Disney Co. brings layoffs to 32,000, Black Friday is currently second-largest online sales day in U.S. history, and more.

Hello, communicators:

Merriam-Webster has announced “pandemic” as its word of the year:

In a blog post, Merriam-Webster wrote:

This has been a year unlike any other (the word unprecedented also had a significant spike in March), and pandemic is the word that has connected the worldwide medical emergency to the political response and to our personal experience of it all.

Other top words for 2020 include “coronavirus,” “Mamba,” “kraken,” “quarantine,” “antebellum,” “malarkey” and more.

Here are today’s top stories: 

Spotify tests ‘Stories’ feature

The music and podcast platform is experimenting with its own Snapchat-esque feature that features short video clips from popular artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Meghan Trainor and Jennifer Lopez attached to certain playlists.

Several Twitter users criticized the feature, including tech influencer Marquez Brownlee:

Reporters shared similar sentiments, with The Next Web’s headline reading, “Spotify’s Stories should feature music suggestions, not artists’ video messages” and Mashable’s article declaiming, “Spotify now has Stories and can this please stop.”

Why it’s important: Though Spotify has racked up criticism for the feature, adding short-form video content plays into the continuing trend of bite-size multimedia content. For communicators working with artists, the feature could offer additional opportunities to interact and offer “extras” to consumers in the way of trivia, stories and interviews.


 Several grocery chains in the United Kingdom, including Aldi, Co-Op, Lidl, Iceland and Tesco have united with the country’s Channel 4 to stand against racism after supermarket chain Sainsbury’s ad, which featured a Black family enjoying the holidays, was met with racist backlash.

The Guardian reported:

The full version of the Sainsbury’s advert, which was met with racist abuse on social media when it aired earlier this month, was also broadcast. It shows a father and daughter talking over the phone about looking forward to Christmas, interspersed with flashbacks to past Christmases while the dad boasts that he makes the best gravy.

Rachel Eyre, the head of brand communications and creative at Sainsbury’s, said: “We strive to be an inclusive retailer and we’re proud to unite with our industry colleagues to stand up against racism. We’re passionate about reflecting modern Britain and celebrating the diversity of the communities we serve, from our advertising to the products we sell.”

The effort is an important reminder to not stay silent and build industry consensus when it comes to racial equality and social justice, even if you experience backlash. Lean into your brand’s values when sharing your messages to ensure consistency across your campaigns.


Kraft Heinz’s Philadelphia Cream Cheese brand took advantage of consumers clamoring for Sony’s new gaming console, the PlayStation 5, by offering limited-edition cheesecake kits dubbed “Philly Series 5”: 

Philadelphia’s marketing team played up the spoof by listing the kit’s ingredients as “five bricks of power filling,” “next-gen baking sheet,” “3D cookie crust” and more. The price for each is $4.99—another reference to the PlayStation 5, which runs for $499. The brand has been selling out with each restock of the offering:



Adobe analyzed Black Friday sales for 80 of the top 100 United States retail companies, reporting that U.S. consumers purchased $9 billion in items online on Nov. 27—a 21.6% increase from 2019.

This year’s Black Friday online sales numbers are currently the second-largest in U.S. history, with last year’s Cyber Monday holding the No. 1 spot. With the continuing e-commerce trend, that record might soon be usurped.


Image courtesy of Adobe.

Along with shopping more online, consumers are also purchasing more items on mobile devices.

TechCrunch reported:

Smartphones continued to account for an increasing proportion of online sales, with this year’s $3.6 billion up 25.3%, while alternative deliveries—a sign of the e-commerce space maturing—also continued to grow, with in-store and curbside pickup up 52% on 2019.

Adobe predicts Cyber Monday 2020 will see spending of between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion.


Image courtesy of Adobe.

You can see the entire report here.


Looking for more insight on how to address the current global crisis and lead your organization into a strong recovery?


Join Ragan’s Crisis Leadership Network to network and brainstorm with peers, get the latest intelligence and research and start to strategize for the future of your organization.

Learn more about this exclusive membership here.

Salesforces aims to aquire Slack

Slack’s shares rose 24% after news broke of the two companies discussing a deal. With the purchase, Salesforce could better compete with Microsoft, which has been focusing on boosting its Teams features as many organizations grapple with remote and dispersed employees. 

Forbes contributor Ilker Koksal wrote:

According to the mobile application analytics platform Sensor Tower, its app has been installed about 12.6 million times so far this year, up approximately 50% from the same period in 2019. And, Slack has always been more than a mere chat service. It enables companies to embed workflows, and this would fit well in the Salesforce family of products of sales, service, marketing and more.

Why it matters: The acquisition might mean that Slack’s messaging platform will become more embraced across organizations seeking to connect employees while they work from home. Communicators should keep their eyes open, as the platform offers competitive advantages—and could be even more appealing when bundled with Salesforce’s suite of offerings.


The Walt Disney Co. recently announced additional layoffs, bringing the number of job cuts from 28,000 to 32,000 employees. The layoffs will take place in the first half of 2021’s fiscal year.

The Miami Herald reported:

“Due to the current climate, including COVID-19 impacts, and changing environment in which we are operating, the Company has generated efficiencies in its staffing, including limiting hiring to critical business roles, furloughs and reductions-in-force,” Disney said in its November SEC filing.

Additionally, Disney said apart from those being laid off, about 37,000 employees are on furlough as a result of “COVID-19’s impact.”

The increased number is due to continued park closures and limited attendance numbers during COVID-19. Though Disney World’s parks in Florida and Asia remain open, the company’s Disneyland Paris parks were forced to reclose in October after France issued another lockdown to combat its second wave of COVID-19 cases. Disneyland’s parks in California have remained closed as well.


As communicators face unprecedented challenges around crisis management, shifting consumer behaviors and more—and as many work to connect, engage and support their employees as the workplace landscape dramatically changes—wellbeing has become an important focus.

That’s why we launched Ragan’s Workplace Wellness Insider. Our new offering is a treasure trove of research, guidance and insights for wellness, employee communications and HR pros. Get the help you need through our website, newsletter, Slack group, research, complimentary reports and more showcasing trends and revealing how organizations are addressing and managing their employees’ wellbeing.


Subscribers also receive discounts on workplace wellness conferences, award entries and Ragan webinars, for additional takeaways and insights to help power your initiatives and strategies.

Learn more here.  


We asked what you’re thankful for, and the teams at Media Strategy Experts, Golin Miami and Connect2 Communications are grateful for outstanding clients:

Communicators at ARPR gave thanks for each other, showcasing its agency culture:

Outside of work hours, Katya and PR student Trevor Stumpo are grateful for BTS and Netflix, respectively—sentiments many of us share as we seek content to entertain us as we stay apart.

Is there a question you’d like us to ask in an upcoming poll? Let us know!


How do you organize your projects and responsibilities as you balance campaigns and communications?

Weigh in via our Twitter poll or below and share your thoughts using the #DailyScoop hashtag.


Editor’s note: Ragan Communications may earn a commission through our affiliate partnerships when purchasing items in our content.



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