State and local governments require employee vaccinations, influencer marketing spending grows during pandemic, and TN hospital network defends patient lawsuits

Also: Disney announces accelerator program partners, Instagram introduces insights calendar tool and Lucasfilm hires YouTuber who created Luke Skywalker deepfake.

vaccine-card-governments-require

Hello, communicators:

The Walt Disney Company has announced the participating companies in its 2021 Disney Accelerator Program, a three-month membership program that Disney says is designed to promote the growth of innovative companies by providing them with access to Disney’s leadership team, a co-working space at Disney and more.

The companies announced include e-commerce mobile messaging platform Attentive, mobile live shopping company Bambuser, a company known for creating experiential retail experiences called Camp, augmented reality companies Illumix and Mojo Vision, artificial intelligence company Holler and more.

“Since 2014, the Disney Accelerator has helped foster innovation within The Walt Disney Company and has made a significant impact on the future of technology and entertainment,” Walt Disney Company VP of corporate innovation David Min said in a press release. “The eight companies that we have chosen for this year’s program are all incredible leaders in their respective industry verticals, and we look forward to working closely with them over the coming months.”

By aligning itself with the future-focused technology through its accelerator program, Disney subtly creates buzz among the company’s most ardent followers around how innovation on topics like e-commerce, augmented reality and artificial intelligence might become a part of Disney’s future strategies. The company’s messaging also highlights the importance of securing partnerships with companies that have demonstrated success in industries your business is looking to break into—and serves as a reminder that offering resources unique to your company, such as space and access to executives, can be a valuable part of the barter with partners.

Governments announce vaccination requirements for state and federal employees

Several state and federal governments will require vaccinations for employees and health care workers. Among them, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that all municipal employees in the city, including police officers and teachers, will be required to be vaccinated or be tested weekly by the time schools open in mid-September. California Governor Gavin Newsom has also announced that all state employees along with on-site public and private health care workers are required to be vaccinated. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also announced that it will mandate its frontline health care workers to get vaccinated, making it the first federal agency to do so.

The New York Times reports:

Mr. de Blasio said the new measures were first steps and that more would follow, and he reiterated a call to private employers to set vaccine mandates for their workers. “Right now, we are leading by example,” the mayor said. “A lot of times, that’s what private sector employers say that’s what they need.”

“I am doing this because it’s the best way to keep our veterans safe, full stop,” Denis McDonough, the secretary of veterans affairs, said in a telephone interview on Monday. The department is one of the largest federal employers and is the biggest integrated health care system in the country.

The focus that these statements place on health care workers echoes a joint statement written by the American Pharmacists Association, the American Public Health Association and 55 other groups framing the need for mandatory vaccinations of U.S. health care workers as a moral issue.

The Washington Post reports:

“We have reached a confluence where health care workers want vaccine mandates, and government is responding,” said Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania who organized the joint statement from nearly 60 medical groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association, urging every health facility to require workers to get vaccinated.

“One of the things that resonated with people is, ‘Look, we’re the medical community. This is a health problem. We need to lead—and we need to have the courage of our convictions,’” Emanuel added.

What it means:

The speed with which de Blasio, Newsom and the VA announced their plans simultaneously following a joint statement from health care groups highlights the importance of listening to the experts for guidance during a crisis, especially when they are all giving the same advice.  Each statement’s focus on the responsibility that comes with being a leader also emphasizes the fact that empowering your leadership to take bold but informed values-based stances on industry problems can build trust and confidence among your stakeholders, and establish your organization as thought leader that is equipped to act in times of uncertainty.


MEASURED THOUGHTS

An new study by eMarketer has found that influencer marketing spending is on track to grow more than 30% this year, exceeding $3 billion in 2021 and surpassing $4 billion in 2022.

Courtesy of eMarketer

“In the early part of the pandemic, many marketers temporarily paused their influencer marketing campaigns,” Jasmine Enberg, eMarketer senior analyst at Insider Intelligence, said in the study.

“But as the pandemic also accelerated many new creator-driven social trends, including short video and social commerce, marketers quickly resumed and are now increasing their spending on influencer marketing, as they realize that influencers are their ticket to reach those audiences. Travel restrictions and social distancing measures disproportionately affected travel influencers, and many had to pivot their strategies to collaborate with brands in new categories.”

Check out the full study here.


TACTICALLY SPEAKING

One way to address your critics is to offer them a job.

Lucasfilm, the studio behind the “Star Wars” franchise, has hired a YouTuber who produced a deepfake (a video where a face or body has been digitally altered to represent someone else) to tweak Mark Hamill’s appearance as Luke Skywalker in the studio’s “Star Wars” spinoff “The Mandalorian.” The YouTuber created his version of Hamill’s de-aged Skywalker performance to critique how the technology was used in the popular series.

YouTubers often produce altered versions of characters from popular franchises to lambast the movie industry’s de-aging visual effects, but those edits seldom lead to job offers from the studios themselves.

IndieWire reports:

“[Industrial Light and Magic is] always on the lookout for talented artists and have in fact hired the artist that goes by the online persona ‘Shamook,’” a Lucasfilm representative said in a statement. “Over the past several years ILM has been investing in both machine learning and A.I. as a means to produce compelling visual effects work and it’s been terrific to see momentum building in this space as the technology advances.”

While Lucasfilm’s willingness to hire someone whose videos challenged the company’s own expertise highlights the company’s willingness to acknowledge criticism, its statement about its investment in future technologies also artfully takes control of the narrative by reframing the conversation around the studio’s plans for future innovation.


TAKE OUR SURVEY

The Institute for Public Relations, Ragan Communications, and the University of Florida are conducting a follow-up survey to their 2020 report, “The Career Path of a Social Media Professional.”

This year’s survey investigates and illuminates the career path potential of social media professionals, shedding light on how social media is being managed, viewed and evaluated within organizations. Here are some highlights from our 2020 report.

We invite you to take this survey whether you’re in charge of social media for your company or are involved in some aspect of social media for a client. The survey should take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete, and all responses will remain confidential.

As thanks for taking the survey, you’ll get an opportunity to enter a drawing for three $50 gift cards and will receive a copy of the full report, which promises to be chock-full of valuable data for benchmarking and budgeting purposes. The report will be presented on Sept. 9, 2021 at Ragan’s Social Media Conference in Orlando, Florida and published through IPR and PR Daily.

Take the survey today!


SOCIAL BUZZ

Instagram has announced that it is expanding the data tracking period in its Instagram Insights tool from 30 days to 60 days with the introduction of a calendar tool that will allow users to enter a custom duration of time to measure.

Visal Shah, Instagram VP of product, announced the feature on Twitter:

Instagram’s introduction of a calendar tool for insights, along with its longer data tracking period, undercuts the slew of third-party apps that let you expand your measurement period beyond 30 days and offer a more accurate proprietary solution that highlights Instagram’s increasing relevance for businesses with needs beyond the e-commerce, fashion and entertainment industries.


RAGAN’S 2021 BENCHMARK REPORT

Ragan has released its annual Communications Benchmark Report, an exclusive study from Ragan’s Communications Leadership Council that analyzes the major trends in the profession over the last year.

During that time, comms pros have been called on to develop and distribute messages on new policies that affect internal and external stakeholders alike. Their role has become more essential as they helped keep their organizations focused and moving forward. They’ve seen their access to the C-suite increase throughout 2020, and they forged important new alliances with peers in other departments, including HR, finance and workplace wellness.

Culled from more than 750 respondents, the 32-page report is available in its entirety exclusively to members of the Communications Leadership Council.

Download your copy of the exclusive Benchmark Survey Executive Summary today and get a crucial competitive advantage that will fuel your success for 2021 and beyond.

Community Health Systems addresses debt collection practice during COVID-19

The hospital network responded to allegations that the company has continued to sue patients over medical debt even after selling the hospital where the patient received treatment. Patients have struggled to identify where to pay what they owe and the practice of suing over medical debt has been decried as unethical, even outlawed in states like New York.

NPR reports:

In a statement to WPLN News, a Community Health Systems spokesperson says that the company used its COVID-19 relief money to pay for pandemic expenses and make up for lost revenue. As of January, the company has decided to take patients to court only if they make at least twice the federal poverty level — or about $52,000 annually for a family of four.

“We continually evaluate modifications to our collection practices to support patients who struggle to pay their hospital bills,” spokesperson Rebecca Pitt says in an email. The policy change is meant to be retroactive. The company will withdraw litigation for anyone who qualifies, Pitt says. Patients who owe Community Health Systems and its former hospitals money are being made aware of the new policy in legal correspondence and can call 800-755-5152 to begin the process, she says.

A separate investigation by CNN earlier this year found Community Health Systems has sued at least 19,000 patients during the pandemic.

CNN reports:

In a statement to CNN, CHS said its hospitals only sue a “small fraction” of the patients they treat every year, and that they work to provide assistance for those who can’t afford their bills.

“Legal action is always the last resort,” the company said. CHS hospitals only file lawsuits, it said, “after it is determined the patient appears to have some ability to pay based on credit record and employment status or if the patient has been non-responsive” following repeated attempts to discuss their bill.

Why it matters:

While CHS’ messaging from earlier this year around its policies for suing patients has remained somewhat consistent in explaining who qualifies for financial relief, the messaging fails to specifically acknowledge how its policies have evolved over time, nor does it address the specific criteria that determines who it pursues litigation against in the first place.

This failure for CHS to regain control of its own narrative highlights the importance of crafting crisis messaging that demonstrates how your company has learned from past mistakes by outlining specific points around how your policies are changing to meet evolving customer needs.


WHAT YOU SAID

Yesterday, we asked if you have ever challenged the way that your company collects and reports its data as part of its purpose and values campaigns. A majority (44%) of you said that you have challenged both the methodology of the data collection and its reporting, while 22% challenged only the reporting and 11% only pushed back on the methodology.

Is there a question you’d like to see asked? Let us know using the hashtag #DailyScoop!


SOUNDING BOARD

Have you ever helped navigate a successful partnership with a technology company that helped your organization innovate its business strategies, PR pros and communicators?

 

COMMENT

3 Responses to “State and local governments require employee vaccinations, influencer marketing spending grows during pandemic, and TN hospital network defends patient lawsuits”

    Ronald N Levy says:

    Just as each of us deserves to be paid by our employers, hospitals deserve to be paid by their employers, the patients. A hospital’s protective public relations should focus on the protective public relationship: we want to protect YOUR health and family so we need money for doctors, nurses and equipment to protect you.

    Ronald N Levy says:

    Just as each of us deserves to be paid by our employers, hospitals deserve to be paid by their employers, the patients. A hospital’s protective public relations should focus on the protective public relationship: we want to protect YOUR health and family so we need money for doctors, nurses and equipment to protect you.

    Ronald N Levy says:

    Regarding vaccinations it’s important to show what is certainly in everyone’s best interest which is what’s best for health. Not just what some people think is best, and there are many opinions, but what the top experts think. Then you can emphasize (a) what this opinion is and (b) why you have a lot of confidence in the experts, what their qualifications are.

    If you do this well, any subsequent argument can be not so much between “pro” and “anti” opinion holders as between those who think the most respected experts are—or are not—the most respected experts.

    A common sense rule may be don’t argue but let the experts argue on behalf of what your management is eager to do to protect our lives. Regardless of who is or isn’t a Pelosi Republican or whether that’s good, you can make clear who is or isn’t among the arguers who’ll be best for us if they win: the scientific experts. For surviving a frightening pain it can make sense to consult a doctor and that’s also a good idea for surviving a frightening pandemic.

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