The United States Postal Service announced a new 10-year contract for the manufacture of new delivery vehicles for the first time in roughly 30 years:
USPS undertook a major step toward an investment in its future with a production contract for a next generation delivery vehicle. The vehicle award is part of a 10-year plan to improve customer service, achieve financial stability and better support the postal workforce.
— U.S. Postal Service (@USPS) February 23, 2021
In a press release, Louis DeJoy, postmaster general and USPS’ executive officer, focused on the fleet’s environmentally friendly and energy efficient aspects:
As the American institution that binds our country together, the U.S. Postal Service can have a bright and modern future if we make investments today that position us for excellence tomorrow. The NGDV program expands our capacity for handling more package volume and supports our carriers with cleaner and more efficient technologies, more amenities, and greater comfort and security as they deliver every day on behalf of the American people.
The vehicle’s design has received mixed reactions on Twitter, with Politico’s Sam Mintz tweeting a poll that has already grabbed nearly 202,000 votes:
Highly polarized responses to this so far, let's get some real data. This design is:
— Sam Mintz (@samjmintz) February 23, 2021
Here are today’s top stories:
‘The Simpsons’ gets praise for recasting with Black voice actor
Kevin Michael Richardson will now provide the voice of “The Simpson’s” Dr. Hibbert, replacing Harry Shearer. The move racked up media coverage as viewers applauded the move.
The decision comes eight months after the show said white actors would no longer provide the voices of non-white characters, following particular criticism of Hank Azaria’s voiceover of Apu.
“The Simpsons” effort contrasts with the fallout over the ABC’s “The Bachelor” franchise, as it faces criticism over handling the response to the season’s frontrunner, Rachael Kirkconnell, who has apologized for racist actions in her past.
The show’s host, Chris Harrison, temporarily stepped back from filming after defending Kirkconnell in an interview.
“The Bachelor’s” current lead, Matt James, addressed the growing controversy on Instagram and Twitter, saying the “franchise has fallen short” on properly addressing over the years:
View this post on Instagram
Why it’s important: Communicators are adept at considering business and branding decisions in terms of the optics it provides—along with how those moves will affect organizations’ bottom lines. However, they should be careful to not view DE&I initiatives only through that lens.
Your decisions and statements can greatly affect your brand’s image and reputation, and when statements are made that are obviously not tied to values or meaningful efforts to change, you could face a far bigger crisis than the criticism of not responding at all. If you’re putting off having uncomfortable conversations about DE&I within your organization and strategies for the future, you do so at your own peril.
The Transportation Security Administration recently tweeted a reminder of its liquids rules for #NationalTortillaChipDay:
It’s #NationalTortillaChipDay and we have some tasty travel tips. Solid foods such as chips are good to go in carry-on or checked bags. Want to salsa? Don’t dance around our liquids rule. To learn more about our liquid's policy, visit: https://t.co/OW2miyIyEI pic.twitter.com/F4ZQHyn3j0
— TSA (@TSA) February 24, 2021
The tweet can serve as a reminder that you don’t need to have a brand like Wendy’s to take advantage of trending conversations and “national holidays” to boost engagement online. Instead, consider how your organization can enter the conversation by providing information and other valuable advice or content.
CRISIS LEADERSHIP NETWORK
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Join Ragan’s Crisis Leadership Network to connect and brainstorm with peers, get the latest intelligence and research and start to strategize for the future of your organization.
Biteable recently published its State of Video Marketing 2021 report, which revealed that 60% of organizations use video content as a marketing tool, and 61% of marketers say video strategies are either “very” or “extremely” important elements of their strategies.
Most marketing pros create and distribute videos on social media platforms, with Facebook (75%), YouTube (70%) and Instagram (58%) leading the way. However, 68% of respondents reported their videos had a higher ROI than Google Ads, showcasing video’s power across digital channels:
If you want your video efforts to soar, add music. That’s what 81% of marketing pros do to improve engagement, with 78% reporting that videos perform better with less text. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include any text. Rather, take a nod from the 64% of respondents who say videos perform better with captions—along with the 65% of marketers who say it’s crucial to show diversity within video content.
You can view the full report here.
Fry’s Electronics shuts its doors
After nearly 36 years, the retail chain abruptly closed all of its stores overnight. Visitors to Fry’s website are now greeted with a statement, which reads, in part:
[Fry’s Electronics] has made the difficult decision to shut down its operations and close its business permanently as a result of changes in the retail industry and the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Company will implement the shut down through an orderly wind down process that it believes will be in the best interests of the Company, its creditors, and other stakeholders.
The Company ceased regular operations and began the wind-down process on February 24, 2021. It is hoped that undertaking the wind-down through this orderly process will reduce costs, avoid additional liabilities, minimize the impact on our customers, vendors, landlords and associates, and maximize the value of the Company’s assets for its creditors and other stakeholders.
Though the retailer was popular with consumers for its themed locations, including “a UFO decoration crashing through the exterior of the store,” according to CNN, Fry’s “didn’t innovate its online operations as rapidly compared to its larger rivals.”
It turned out the company had been forced to switch to a consignment model, only able to attract suppliers willing to get paid for their goods after Fry’s managed to sell them. Many suppliers weren’t. A former employee tells The Verge that Samsung stopped doing business due to unpaid bills, and that Fry’s had eliminated most full-time roles even before the pandemic hit, in order to save money.
The abrupt closing also came as a surprise to the company’s employees, further generating negative press coverage.
Rumors began flying on Tuesday in the form of anecdotes from alleged Fry’s employees, who all reported that they’d been summarily fired earlier in the day with zero notice. One anonymous report posted at The Layoff alleged that every remaining Fry’s store in the US was “permanently closing tomorrow,” and that statement was repeated hours later at a Fry’s-related Reddit community. The Reddit post included the allegation that one store’s staffers were tasked with shipping any remaining merchandise back to suppliers during their final day at work.
Why it matters: If your organization isn’t adapting to a future fueled by consumer behavior shifts during COVID-19, reconsider before it’s too late. These behaviors and trends, including e-commerce and mobile-first content, along with a focus on user experience, are here to stay—even after more brick-and-mortar locations open their doors.
If your organization must announce closings, layoffs or alignments, don’t let your employees be the last to know. Instead, communicate with them empathetically and transparently, before they read your crisis response in headlines alongside your consumers.
DOWNLOAD EXCLUSIVE RESEARCH
Where communications fits in an organization is a crucial element of positioning communicators to champion important campaigns, protect reputation and branding, drive key messages and influence top-level strategies.
Are your PR and internal communications teams in sync, or do you place communications and marketing together? How does your organization view its communications function—and are you working on breaking down silos for collaborated, concentrated efforts?
Especially as organizations adjust to remote, dispersed and hybrid workplaces during COVID-19 and prepare for the future of work, considering where your communications team sits within your organization’s flow charts can affect leadership efforts and help you successfully execute campaigns and inititiaves.
GameStop recently announced that its chief financial officer, Jim Bell, will step down on March 26. The announcement comes after the company’s shares briefly skyrocketed in a coordinated effort by Reddit’s r/wallstreetbets community and other independent investors.
GameStop (GME) has started searching for a new CFO “with the capabilities and qualifications to help accelerate GameStop’s transformation,” it said, hinting at the company’s efforts to shift its focus from physical to online retail.
… When asked by CNN Business about the reason for Bell’s departure, a GameStop spokesperson said the company is “not providing any further comments at this time concerning the announcement.”
The wild swings in share price were detached from what was happening at the company, where a major stockholder has been trying to force a turnaround. In early January, Ryan Cohen, the manager of RC Ventures and a large stockholder, joined the GameStop board. He has been pressuring the company’s executive team to overhaul GameStop’s strategy and focus on digital growth. The company has more than 5,000 stores, many in American malls and shopping strips, but has steadily lost sales to major online retailers like Amazon.
Bell’s departure and GameStop’s terse statement might allude to internal scrambling as the retailers’ leaders and communicators seek to control the brand’s narrative and find ways for the company to compete with e-commerce giants and other competitors with bigger digital-first offerings.
WHAT YOU SAID
We asked if you use digital backgrounds for your virtual meetings, and roughly 58% of you don’t use the tool, deeming it distracting, and 29% of you use the backgrounds only when you must. In comparison, 7% of you turn to fun backgrounds for your meetings and almost 6% think using a background can help you appear more professional:
Do you use a virtual background in Zoom, Teams meetings and more?
Weigh in below and we'll share the results in tomorrow's #DailyScoop!
— PR Daily (@PRDaily) February 23, 2021
Tressa Robbins, vice president of customer onboarding for Burrelles, says a room divider can serve as a privacy shield and professional backdrop more effectively than a virtual background:
I tried it a couple times but found it very distracting. Instead, I got a "room divider" curtain for a backdrop.
P.S. – It drives me bonkers when people use a virtual background in TV interviews. I end up watching to see what disappears instead of focusing on the message!
— Tressa Robbins, MPRCA ✨ (@tressalynne) February 23, 2021
Is there question you’d like to see asked? Please let us know under the #DailyScoop hashtag!
Are you feeling more motivated or overwhelmed with the historical crises and opportunities affecting communicators?
Are you feeling more motivated or overwhelmed with the historical crises and opportunities affecting communicators?
Weigh in below and share how you're maintaining balance, and we'll report in tomorrow's #DailyScoop
— PR Daily (@PRDaily) February 24, 2021
Weigh in below or on Twitter, under the hashtag #DailyScoop, and we’ll share your insights in tomorrow’s roundup.