Target, others to close for Easter Sunday, Home Depot stops selling N95 masks, and AdCouncil’s #AloneTogether PSAs

Also: FTC issues a scam Bingo game, marketers say data analysis is needed—not more numbers, Lowe’s shares quarantine-friendly activities, and more.

Good morning, communicators:

The Ad Council developed several public service announcements in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the White House, which include a new #AloneTogether campaign encouraging people to stay at home:

The latter video was created in partnership with ViacomCBS, featuring celebrities and reality TV stars emphasizing the message.

Adweek reported:

Next, the Ad Council is working to focus more of its #AloneTogether messaging to highlight the specific risks related to mental health during quarantine, said Sherman, for both those stuck inside their homes struggling with the effects of social isolation and those in essential industries that are getting worn down by the fear of facing higher risks every day they go to work.

“The mental health issues that we are currently facing and will continue to face are critical,” Sherman said. “And so we’re pivoting some of our work.”

Here are today’s top stories:

Home Depot stops selling N95 masks

 The home improvement chain announced a number of business updates and initiatives in response to COVID-19:

Along with freezing pricing for high-demand products in locations nationwide, Home Depot stopped selling N95 masks in its stores and online. Instead, it’s redirecting shipments “to be donated to hospitals, health care providers and first responders around the country,” according to its press release.

The New York Times reported:

The N95 respirator, a type of mask that protects against airborne droplets from sneezes or coughs, is among the most sought-after supplies.

“We stopped restocking stores a couple weeks ago to prioritize shipments for hospitals and first responders,” Sara Gorman, a spokeswoman for Home Depot, said in an email on Wednesday night. “As an extra precaution, we locked them down with a stop sale beginning last week.”

Home Depot is also donating “millions of dollars” in personal protective equipment to health care organizations and prioritizing orders for the same organizations. The chain announced employee benefits as well, which include additional paid time off, bonuses and health care benefits for employees’ dependents.

Why it’s important: As uncertainty, concern and panic swirl in consumers, it’s paramount for communicators to relay their organizations’ efforts during the current crisis, both for employees and consumers. As you lay out your response strategy and CSR initiatives, drop self-serving language: Now is the time for information and comfort, not pats on the back at the strides your organization is making.


TACTICALLY SPEAKING

The Federal Trade Commission created a game to help consumers spot and report scams, which are increasing along with the COVID-19 outbreak. The game is called #FTCScamBingo, and consumers are encouraged to share it under the hashtag as well as reach out to the FTC on Twitter and Facebook:

In a news release, the FTC wrote:

Some scammers are promising that you can refinance your mortgage or get student loan debt forgiveness – for a fee, of course. You might spot phishing scams, where scammers try to get your Social Security number (SSN) or financial info – maybe to guarantee you access to a COVID-19 vaccine (remember: there’s still no vaccine, so definitely no access). They might say they’re from Medicare (they’re not) with a health kit, from the CDC (again, not) with a vaccine kit, or the Social Security Administration (nope), telling you there’s a problem with your SSN (there’s not). And some scammers might even still be running some of their go-to favorites: tech support, utilities, or lower-your-interest-rate scams.

 The more you can make information and your key messages visual and enagaging, the better chance you stand in capturing people’s attention and persuading them to act. Bonus points (and higher success rates) can come to communicators who make it interactive—such as through a simple game like Bingo.


CRISIS LEADERSHIP BOARD

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.


FROM THE EXPERTS

 How are you changing your engagement and outreach efforts now that you can’t gather people in the same room? That was the challenge that the YMCA had to address when COVID-19 forced many of its facilities to close.

Here’s what Valerie Barker Waller, chief marketing officer and senior vice president for Y-USA, had to say about the campaign in a conversation with PR Daily Editor Ted Kitterman.

Retailers announce Easter Sunday closings

Target, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Aldi and Sam’s Club announced that they’re closing for Easter Sunday to give their employees a break.

Expect additional supermarket chains to follow suit as they continue to share messages of how they’re helping both employees and consumers stay safe:

Why it matters: How you treat your employees has increasingly become a reputation indicator, but organizations’ workforce communications is now under the magnifying glass with the current crisis. You would do well to put your employees first in both your messaging and your business decisions.


MEASURED THOUGHTS

A Twitter survey conducted by The Harris Poll underlined the importance of understanding social data and using it to power PR and marketing campaigns. Data science skills can be especially helpful during the current crisis, as organizations pivot their products and services and adapt their messages to fit consumers’ questions and concerns.

Image courtesy of Twitter.

The survey reported 73% of marketers think that organizations will fail in the long run without using social data analysis, but the same amount say the crucial need is the analysis—not more data.

However, 63% of marketers are grappling with how these insights can benefit their organizations, with 64% saying their organizations’ senior leaders don’t fully grasp social data analysis’ power.

Image courtesy of Twitter.

 Because there’s a lack of communicators specializing in data analysis and data science, most organizations (72%) have turned to external partners for guidance:

Image courtesy of Twitter.

Proper social data analysis can help with your market research, and PR and marketing campaigns, but it also can improve your product development, operations, customer service and customer experience efforts. As these are crucial elements of crisis response and new business models, you might consider looking to social data to help you access your audiences’ needs and make your next move during the COVID-19 pandemic.


CRISIS DAILY NEWSLETTER

Ragan Communications has launched a new daily newsletter to bring readers the latest headlines, tools and insights to help them manage their communications during the COVID-19 crisis and tough moments that may come long after the pandemic is over.

The newsletter will contain tips on:

  • Remote work and culture issues
  • Health care communications
  • Internal communications
  • Crisis response tips
  • Human resources best practices
  • Technology updates
  • External communication
  • And more

Sign up to get the daily eNewsletter directly in your inbox.


 TACTICALLY SPEAKING

Lowe’s is creating a series of easy do-it-yourself projects for children:

It’s also encouraging consumers to create homemade thank-you messages for essential workers and frontline health care employees:

These efforts are in addition to Lowe’s preventative measures and “$100 million commitment” in response to the pandemic.

You don’t have to have a technology offering or social media platform to offer ideas and projects for consumers staying at home. Consider what you can offer in terms of ideas, inspiration and guidance to overcome feelings of boredom and isolation—whether through reports, blog posts, videos or infographics.


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked if you think it’s better to over-communicate your messages during the current crisis, or selectively share to cut down on information overload. Nearly half of you (48%) said it depends on your organization, but almost 42% said undersharing is worse than too much information:

PR students Maria Rodriguez and Skylar Fushi said communicating often shows your community that you’re paying attention and that you care:

Communications pro Mike Ingberg said the message itself is a more important consideration than the amount of messaging:


SOUNDING BOARD

How are you giving back to your communities (both local and virtual)?

Share how you’re helping people find answers and stay safe indoors amid the crisis by weighing in below and under the #DailyScoop hashtag.

COMMENT

One Response to “Target, others to close for Easter Sunday, Home Depot stops selling N95 masks, and AdCouncil’s #AloneTogether PSAs”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    You can protect your life and your family with N95 masks but Home Depot says that instead of selling or donating N95 masks to customers, Home Depot is donating the masks to someone else!

    Why donate to someone else instead of to the customers? Home depot doesn’t say. Are the non-customers in some way more needy or more worthy than Home Depot’s customers? Home Depot not only doesn’t say but apparently doesn’t even KNOW who will get the N95 masks Home Depot won’t sell its own customers!

    Should Home Depot be awarded a diploma-like “Award for PR Stupidity?”

    Once a customer has been told in effect, “no we won’t sell you N95 masks to protect your life and your family because we are donating the masks to someone else, will customers be inclined to buy more from Home Depot or be more inclined to shop elsewhere? Will employees be proud or ashamed for their neighbors?

    Think about investors—do we need Saard Verbinnen or Joelle Frank to judge whether the “none for our customers” policy is likely to make Home Depot more respected by investors or less?

    How about media respect? Are media likely to think more highly of Home Depot for refusing to supply customers with life-saving masks?

    If America’s medical experts and political leaders are not wrong in urging Americans to protect their lives, can Home Depot be right in saying to customers “don’t come to us for N95 masks because we’re donating them to other people”?

    I wonder whether class action lawyers could sue perhaps for billions. If some customers die who might have lived if they had N95 masks, could refusing to sell them be as actionable as allowing harassment, discrimintion and anti-gay taunting? Could a prosecutor get nominated deservedly to higher office by filing a criminal complaint against Home Depot managers who intentionally ordered that N95 masks shouldn’t be sold or donated to customers but should be donated to others? Activists could carry signs: “Jail to the Chief!”

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