Spotify adds silent tracks for #BlackoutTuesday, Facebook donates $10M amid employee criticism, and Starbucks embraces conversation

Also: OKCupid, Verizon and Peets Coffee focus on strategic plans to fulfill Black Lives Matter efforts, Microsoft highlights black employee voices, and more.

Hello, communicators:

As more organizations across industries make statements about #BlackLivesMatter, some are announcing donations and other efforts to fight against racism.

Verizon pledged $10 million, shared equally with seven social justice organizations that include National Action Network and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.

“We cannot commit to a brand purpose of moving the world forward unless we are committed to helping ensure we move it forward for everyone,” said Verizon’s chairman and chief executive, Hans Vestberg.

OKCupid promised donations to four social justice organizations, including Black Girls Code and the ACLU. It’s also posing questions to its members “to ignite discussions around racial equality and justice.”

Peets Coffee promised to “have a clear plan of action by Wednesday, if not sooner”:

The efforts highlight the importance of backing your words with action, along with the best practice of communicating a clear strategy to achieving your commitments. Whatever your pledge, don’t forget to outline your organization’s game plan for making a difference.

Here are today’s top stories:

Spotify adds minutes of silence as brands join #BlackoutTuesday 

The streaming service announced a series of initiatives which includes special curation of playlists, a “Black History is Now” hub, and on June 2, moments of silence along with black logos on select playlists and podcasts.

In a news release, Spotify wrote:

Listeners will see a black logo and headline image on more than a dozen of our flagship playlists and podcasts, including Today’s Top Hits and RapCaviar, as well as all of our urban and R&B playlists and many podcast covers. Spotify will also pause social media publication as a symbol of solidarity that reminds us that things cannot remain status quo. Finally, select participating playlists and podcasts will include an 8-minute, 46-second track of silence as a solemn acknowledgement for the length of time that George Floyd was suffocated.

Many brands have joined “Black Out Tuesday,” silencing their social media feeds and giving their employees time to process their feelings:

Why it’s important:


Microsoft announced that it would “use [its] platform to amplify voices from the Black and African American community” at its organization:

Microsoft’s Xbox Twitter account is standing in solidarity with the effort:


Many organizations issue annual diversity and inclusion reports and are actively working to improve their goals, reporting and accountability.. No matter your goals or active programs, surveying employees is a crucial element in evaluating the culture of your workplace and where you’re at in your D&I journey.

PeopleGoal Solutions included a list of the top 10 questions to include on your employee survey:

Image courtesy of PeopleGoal Solutions.

Make sure your survey is short and straightforward to increase participation, and also follow up with acknowledgement and action after you receive employee feedback.


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 Board 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.

Facebook pledges $10M as employees stage virtual ‘walk out’

The social media platform’s co-founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, committed a $10 million donation to fighting against racism in a post on his personal timeline:

The pain of the last week reminds us how far our country has to go to give every person the freedom to live with dignity…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Sunday, May 31, 2020

In his post, Zuckerberg wrote:

It’s clear Facebook also has more work to do to keep people safe and ensure our systems don’t amplify bias.

The organizations fighting for justice also need funding, so Facebook is committing an additional $10 million to groups working on racial justice. We’re working with our civil rights advisors and our employees to identify organizations locally and nationally that could most effectively use this right now.

However, several Facebook employees staged a virtual walk out in protest to Zuckerberg’s lack of action over a post made by President Donald J. Trump.

The Guardian reported:

Disagreement came from employees at all levels of the company, including some senior staff. Particular criticism was levelled at Zuckerberg’s personal decision to leave up the Facebook version of a tweet sent by Trump in which the president appeared to encourage police to shoot rioters. By contrast, Twitter hid the message behind a warning.

Here are a few of the tweets from employees:

Why it matters: As social media platforms continue to struggle with stopping fake news, misinformation and inflammatory content that goes against their terms of service, they’ll also have to reconcile employee views and beliefs with their decisions. You can do the same, regardless of your organization or industry. Check in with your employees and see how they’re doing, along with how they envision being a part of your values and mission.


The COVID-19 crisis has drastically changed the landscape for communicators and PR pros. More than ever before, communicators must gain key skill sets and employ strategic communications and media relations strategies to boost their organizations’ coverage, reputation and overall brand.

Learn what the 315 communicators we surveyed say about what parts of the PR function are more important than ever, how to adjust for COVID-19, and more with our free report revealing insights that can help you perservere during this uncertain time.

Download your copy of the report here.


Starbucks recently hosted a virtual conversation with 2,000 of its partners to discuss racial injustice along with the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

In an open letter to its partners, Starbucks’ chief executive, Kevin Johnson, wrote:

We have always believed in being a different kind of company. Today was an example of that—and we will continue having these conversations.

… While we may not have all the answers, we know the path forward requires these courageous conversations with one another. As I shared at the close of today’s meeting it is, in part, our promise to one another as partners to live our mission and values daily. We are a family. We act with empathy and compassion. And we honor our differences, always. We uplift each other. Because that is what true Starbucks partners do.

Aside from your statements and plans of action, consider how you can invite your employees and other stakeholders to hold conversations that serve to inspire, uplift, support and heal one another through this difficult time.


We asked whether it was a better move for brands and brand managers to speak up during the protests and riots that have swept the nation following the death of George Floyd in police custody.

Is it time to voice anger and dismay or to make space for disenfranchised voices?

Over half (57%) said it was important make a statement while 43% gave preference to making space for others. Whatever action you decide to take, make sure it comes from a place of authenticity for your organization and its core values.

Here are some of the arguments in favor of making a statement:

Others offer caution for brands who enter into the conversation thoughtlessly:


Let’s talk about how we are making changes in our own backyards in response to the current cultural moment we are seeing. Has this period of protest and unrest changed how you are thinking about diversity, inclusion and equity?

Let us know your thoughts by tweeting us with the #DailyScoop or voting in our poll.


No Responses to “Spotify adds silent tracks for #BlackoutTuesday, Facebook donates $10M amid employee criticism, and Starbucks embraces conversation”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    Top corporate managements hope to avoid the PR pandemic that may already have begun.

    Companies are donating millions for the same reason that retailers are boarding up store windows. It’s because the public is mad as hell and asking “why should we have it so bad when they have it so good? Do they even care?”

    Rent arrears and consumer debt are up, employment is down and these problems are not going away. The president’s top economist admitted on Fox TV that unemployment is likely to be above 20% even in November. The Wall Street Journal makes clear that not only home dwellers but also commercial tenants are falling behind on rent that keeps mounting. If politicians could quiet the storm they’d have done so instead of it metastasizing.

    There is massive reduction in summer jobs and in bookings for winter vacations. Many restaurants and other small businesses that have closed will not re-open. Suppliers of Penney, Neiman-Marcus and other bankrupt companies will not be paid and some will also go bankrupt. Be glad you’re not an unemployed cleaning lady or unemployed anything.
    The months head may be grim.

    A Big Problem is how people feel when they are broke and seated in a government welfare office waiting and waiting for hours. Are they sad and quietly ashamed? No they are angry, sometimes hungry and belligerent! Some may stand up and yell to government clerical people: WE NEED SOME GOD DAMN MONEY!

    They do. Companies need PR planning now, and asking God’s damnation may not help.

    Are you going to tell millions of people who have no money that all this is not your fault? Or that you are doing the best you can? Or that you are honoring black athletes and Dr. King? This could make some people facing poverty enraged!

    Fortunately there’s an answer though not the answer that many top executives want to hear. The answer is to use our common sense so that just as we know to see a dentist for a toothache, and to see a lawyer when threatened with a lawsuit, and see a doctor fast for chest pains or a breast lump, major companies should interview six or eight top PR firms—soon—and ask for a presentation: here are our facts, what can you do for us if we bring you in and how much will it cost?

    It’s time. Maybe chest pains will go away on their own, and maybe donating $10 million (or pledging to which may cost less as people realize) will take care of it. But great doctors , lawyers and PR firms make all that money because it is often better to face a serious problem than to ignore it or to try something that we hope may work.

    Great doctors, lawyers and PR firms can help us survive so we enjoy better days when they come as they will.

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