Target announces loyalty program, ‘soft skills’ are most crucial, and Spirit Airlines offers bigger seats

Also: Wendy’s is serving up breakfast and jobs, British Airways strike brings PR woes, and FDA letter fuels Juul’s PR crisis.

Good morning, PR pros:

Though McDonald’s is focusing on a chicken sandwich to compete with Popeyes and Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s has set its sights on consumers’ morning commute.

The fast-food chain announced it will expand the availability of its breakfast menu to all of its U.S. locations in 2020. Currently, the menu exists in more than 300 Wendy’s locations, with items such as “Breakfast Baconator” and “Frosty-ccino.”

Wendy’s is also hiring roughly 20,000 employees to serve its morning meals.

Where are the growth markets within your industry—and how can you take advantage of them?

Here are today’s top stories:

British Airways’ reputation takes hit on pilots strike

In the midst of its pilots strike, British Airways is struggling to serve passengers and weather its growing PR crisis. CNN Travel reported that the strike affects roughly 280,000 passengers and has sent fares soaring by up to 2,100%.

On Monday, SimpleFlying.com reported:

It’s been a pretty miserable day for British Airways. The airline faced its first of two days of strike action by pilots. Typically a British Airways aircraft takes off or lands somewhere in the world every 90 seconds. Today this was considerably less. In fact, at 21:30 there were just four British Airways flights in the sky. This included two wet-leased aircraft, BA7 to Tokyo and BA16 from Singapore. BA City Flyer services are unaffected by the strike.

Opinion articles such as The Guardian’s I don’t want to strike, but British Airways has left me no choice” compound the reputational disaster.

However, the airline’s social media team has continued to place the blame on the pilots union with replies such as this:

Why you should care: Your employees are crucial to your organization’s reputation and operations, so if you’re at odds with them, prepare early for a PR crisis of potentially massive proportions. We’d also advise your customer apologies to take responsibility when possible, but at minimum, avoid throwing employees under the bus—or, in this case, the airbus.

Related reading:


MEASURED THOUGHTS

A recent IBM survey titled “The enterprise guide to closing the skills gap” revealed that robots are not taking over all our jobs. Instead, more than 120 million workers worldwide might require retraining in the next three years to adjust to artificial intelligence and automation advancements.

The time it takes to train employees has increased in the past four years, jumping to 36 days from three days. One key reason is the type of skills executives consider most crucial, which include time management, effective communications and teamwork.

It’s good news for communicators of all stripes who already master these skills, but the report also serves as a warning for organizations to bolster both recruitment and training programs now, before the lack of these crucial skills becomes detrimental to the bottom line.

Target taps into data and personalization with loyalty program

On Oct. 6, the retailer will launch its loyalty program, Target Circle. The program offers members 1% savings on purchases, along with early access to sales, personalized offers, birthday rewards and opportunities to vote on the organizations that receive Target’s donations.

The initiative is a way to increase consumer loyalty, encourage more consumers to get Target’s branded credit card, and highlight its corporate social responsibility efforts. It’s also a highly effective way of grabbing consumer data—which Target uses to tailor its sales, coupons and other offers.

TechCrunch reported:

A big part of that is the personalized aspect of the Target Circle program. In addition to the “birthday perks” (an easy way to grab some demographic data), customers will also get special discounts on the categories they “shop most often” — meaning, Target will be tapping into its treasure trove of customer purchase history to make recommendations from both in-store and online purchases along with other signals.

Why it matters: Though data collection and privacy are heated topics, many consumers will give their information to organizations they like and trust in order to receive offers catered to their shopping behaviors. Put consumers first and ensure your data collection methods are transparent, and you can benefit from analytics that can inform your marketing efforts.

Related reading:


INDUSTRY BUZZ

 A recent move by the Food and Drug Administration has caused Juul’s reputation management efforts to go up in smoke.

The New York Times reported:

The agency issued a warning letter to Juul, saying that the company violated federal regulations because it had not received federal approval to promote and sell its vaping products as a healthier option.

The F.D.A.’s action dealt a setback to the company’s efforts to rebrand itself after public outrage erupted over a surge in teenage vaping.

This Juul tweet, posted June 6, showcase the messages under scrutiny:

Spirit Airlines seeks to boost image with bigger seats

 The low-cost airline that once embraced passenger hatred is now looking to improve its brand image—and it’s starting with comfier seats:

Los Angeles Times reported:

Spirit Airlines Chief Executive Ted Christie unveiled the new seats Monday at an airline expo in downtown Los Angeles, saying they demonstrate the carrier’s commitment to budget-minded passengers.

“We are listening, that’s the message,” Christie said in an interview during the Airline Passenger Experience Expo. “We want to show them that we are interested in investing in our products in ways that they think would create value.”

Spirit Airlines isn’t going crazy with its rebranding, however.

USA Today reported:

The airline isn’t abandoning its a la carte model or trying to become the next Delta but is in the midst of a transformation to change travelers’ perceptions of the carrier.

“We think we can deliver low fares, low costs and high quality,” Christie said in a presentation to airport and airline executives in Las Vegas last month.

Why it matters: Even if you’re comfortable leaning into a brand image and reputation that bears the brunt of consumers’ ire, you should still listen to your customers and attempt to tap into their needs and wants. Be realistic, though. Spirit Airlines might have a hard time changing its image with a decision that seems like putting lipstick on a pig.

Related reading


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked you to share your favorite newspaper or media outlet corrections—and you did not disappoint.

Haj Media shared this delightful adjustment:

The media correction is a reminder for PR pros and communicators about the cost of getting your facts wrong, and about how some mistakes can’t be forgiven as simple human error. However, they are also an example of transparency in action. Admit your mistakes immediately and set the record straight, and the news cycle will move past your errors eventually.

Of course, working with an experienced editor can head off a lot of headaches.


SOUNDING BOARD

It’s Tuesday, but doesn’t it already feel like Thursday? Time to grab another cup of coffee.

Many PR pros rely on caffeine to get through the week, and we want to know your beverage of choice. Share your thoughts—and caffeine addictions—with us with the hashtag #MorningScoop.

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