Tech giants face antitrust action, social media retains allure despite ‘fake news,’ and top tactics to elevate your brand

Also: Alabama dean resigns amid Twitter furor, T-Mobile vows to investigate purported overcharges, and Burger King’s ‘Escape the clown’ campaign.

Good Morning PR pros:

The U.S. jobs numbers for August are out—and the signs aren’t promising for the economy.

August showed lackluster job creation with only 130,000 jobs added. It’s not the worst month for 2019—both May and February were worse—but the trend troubles many market prognosticators.

How can communicators prepare for a market downturn? And how is your agency or organization preparing for tough times should they come next year?

Share your thoughts with the hashtag #MorningScoop.

Here are today’s stories:

Google, Facebook face antitrust inquiry

The big tech companies face investigations from states including New York as government continues to grapple with how to monitor and regulate these giant organizations.

Business Insider reported:

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Google was to be the subject of an antitrust investigation by “more than half” of the state attorneys general.

According to The Journal, the Google investigation is expected to be officially announced Monday and will consist of roughly 36 state attorneys general led by Ken Paxton, a Texas Republican.

A second group led by Letitia James, New York’s Democratic attorney general, will investigate Facebook.

Why it matters: Google and Facebook had different responses to reports of the government action. Facebook declined to comment on the Wall Street Journal report. Google affirmed a previous statement that it would work “constructively” with lawmakers.

Google’s statement shows the company is ready and willing to follow the process to address concerns and follow the law. Facebook’s non-response is more open to interpretation.

Related reading:


MEASURED THOUGHTS

Users say they are unlikely to change their social media use habits because of “fake news.”

According to a recent study from The Manifest, many users say they believe they can recognize fake news when they see it and that they won’t stop getting their information from social media platforms anytime soon.

University of Alabama dean resigns over tweets

Dr. Jamie Riley, a dean at the University of Alabama, resigned over tweets that surfaced in a recent Breitbart article. The tweets dealt with race, racism and police practices. Riley is African American.

Al.com reported:

“Dr. Jamie Riley has resigned his position at The University of Alabama by mutual agreement. Neither party will have any further comments,” a spokeswoman for the university said in an email to AL.com.

The resignation has caused tensions to flare online as some see the dismissal of a black administrator from the southern university as racially motivated.

Why you should care: Your employees on social media are an extension of your organization’s presence in the community. Therefore, it is essential to have extensive training and education for employees about social media use, as well as an explicit and transparent policy for online infractions.

Know that there are people combing the internet for old comments and tweets you or a colleague might have made in anger. Perform a social media audit, and remove any content you don’t want out there.

Related reading:


TACTICALLY SPEAKING

Burger King Deutschland pounced on the buzz around the second movie adaptation of Stephen King’s “It.” Tinkering with the campaign it used last year to target customers at its competitors with excessive discounts, the company introduced an app to offer burger fans 1-cent Whoppers if they would “escape the clown.”

The company has offered similar discounts before, but the partnership with the horror film is helping the marketing team pack an extra punch.

NYC sues T-Mobile over marketing practices

The city asserts that the mobile company, primarily through its subsidiary Metro, overcharged customers, sometimes signing them up for expensive payment plans without consent and even selling refurbished phones as brand new devices.

Engadget reported:

A spokesperson for T-Mobile told CNET, “What we are seeing alleged here is completely at odds with the integrity of our team and the commitment they have to taking care of our customers every day,” and claimed to be taking the allegations “very seriously.”

The scandal comes as T-Mobile is attempting to merge with Sprint, a move opposed by several states’ attorneys general, including New York’s Letitia James.

What you should know: T-Mobile’s crisis response hits the right tone, taking the allegations seriously while defending its record and employees’ integrity. It’s important to craft a holding statement in a crisis and offer a timeline for when stakeholders can expect to learn more. By promising to investigate on its own, T-Mobile can retake some control of the narrative.

Related reading:


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked what the best way was to get your products to stand out from the competition as many consumers report being open to try new products.

The top choice was having a fun and exciting brand. A good price followed closely behind.


SOUNDING BOARD

Is there a campaign or response that impressed you this week? Share your nominations, and we will include the best of the pack in our #MorningScoop next week!

 

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COMMENT

One Response to “Tech giants face antitrust action, social media retains allure despite ‘fake news,’ and top tactics to elevate your brand”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    A common PR blunder when an account is accused or facing government inquiry is for the account to argue to the media and government about “what’s fair.” Some companies and industries actually buy full page newspaper ads in hundreds of dailies to argue abut what’s fair.

    It’s an expensive blunder because most people may not give a damn about “what’s fair” for a multibillion dollar company. What nearly all people care about—white, black, rich, poor, gay, straight or undecided—is “what’s best for ME.”

    “If Google or Facebook lose a billion or ten billion but I gain,” most people would figure “Good, let’s do it!” Before you look down on that, judge whether if it were the other way—if Google or Facebook could gain a billion or several billion but it would cost you much of your savings, would the corporate giant turn down the money so that you and a million other people could preserve your savings?

    Self-interest and self-preservation are not filthy. We get jobs because a boss judges that we will be worth more than we cost and do better work than others. We urge our kids to study and work hard so they should be successful. We buy what we do at the shopping center and online because we feel that what we pick will be better for US than things we don’t pick.

    That kind of reality—the inclination of people to pick what’s best for ME or for US—can make a corporate management upset and almost outraged when accused or investigated. BUT that same reality can make a PR worker zoom to the heights in management’s esteem if the worker has had the foresight to guide management with that foresight.

    What foresight can you suggest to management now that may save management’s neck a year from now and perhaps make you regarded as a PR genius? You can assemble your case—truths that you can show convincingly—“here’s how what’s good for us is good for YOU the public.”

    KNOW THE GOODNESS OF YOUR PRODUCTS. Talk to the engineers and document how your products are better than others. In truth they must be or they wouldn’t sell but PR wisdom is to gather the facts NOW on how the products are good for YOU the public.

    KNOW YOUR GOODNESS FOR PEOPLE. How many people do you benefit with your products? How many do you employ? How much do you pay in taxes? In what other ways are you good for people?

    KNOW YOUR GOODNESS FOR SOCIETY. For fairness to women and minorities. For the environment. For good causes. All companies give to local charities but are you doing something BIG for the public like re-allocating your good deeds budget so you give a million a year to someone like America’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to finance anti-cancer research that protects over over 300 million Americans? Have 150 million Americans seen on TV, oniine and in newspapers pictures of your top executives working side by side with the world’s leading research doctors trying to protect our lives?

    KNOW YOUR IMPORTANCE-TO-THE-PUBLIC NEWS NOW. Some in PR always walk around with a resume in their pocket or handbag but the great ones in PR—the leaders who do the most good for clients and are worth by far the most money—walk around with a CORPORATE resume, a document with facts that win for the PR-savvy, facts on how WE are good for YOU.