Thomas Cook collapse strands 600K, Walmart drops e-cigarettes, and holiday shoppers to use voice recognition

Also: Nestle touts luxury KitKats, YouTube warns millions about phishing scam, ‘extraordinary nastiness’ KO’d Disney’s Twitter deal, tapping employees’ climate stances, and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

YouTube has issued a warning for 23 million creators on its platform that they might have been hacked.

The attack looks like a massive coordinated phishing scheme in which hackers try to glean your credentials by getting you to follow illicit email links. Security experts say the best way to protect important accounts is to use two-factor authentication, with a verification app instead of just using texts over SMS.

The attack is the first to uniquely target influencers, social media celebrities with audiences and contracts with brands to promote products.

How can you work with your social media teams and influencer partners to protect your brand and channels from hackers?

Here are today’s top stories:

Thomas Cook folds, stranding hundreds of thousands

The United Kingdom-based travel agency that, according to CNN, “served more than 19 million customers last year” was unable to stave off collapse, announcing on Monday it had ceased trading:

Here’s part of the statement by Peter Frankhauser, Thomas Cook’s chief executive:

It is a matter of profound regret to me and the rest of the board that we were not successful. I would like to apologise to our millions of customers, and thousands of employees, suppliers and partners who have supported us for many years. Despite huge uncertainty over recent weeks, our teams continued to put customers first, showing why Thomas Cook is one of the best-loved brands in travel.

The UK is launching the largest peacetime repatriation in history to help the 160,000 UK travelers stranded worldwide.

The UK passengers involved represent fewer than one-third of the approximately 600,000 travelers currently on vacation through the now-defunct company.

Why it matters: When crafting your crisis response, be empathetic, humble and tactful. Though sticking to your key messages is crucial during a crisis, closing down without notice and stranding hundreds of thousands of travelers around the world is not a time to remind people that you have “put customers first” and are were “one of the best-loved brands in travel.”

Related reading:


According to a study from CMO by Adobe, this holiday season shoppers are planning to spend big online—and they will use voice-activated speakers to help compile and complete their shopping tasks.

This means that brand managers and marketers should work diligently to make sure their products can be found using a voice assistant. Make sure you have content that answers a question that consumers might type in, and choose keywords carefully.

Walmart stops e-cigarette sales

The retail giant recently announced it will “discontinue the sale of electronic nicotine delivery products.” Walmart’s decision follows similar moves by Rite Aid, Costco and Dollar General.

Why you should care: As studies point to the harm vaping causes, consumers expect organizations to be part of the solution by taking a stand. You can earn kudos by acting early and being a leader with your decision. Though not the first by any stretch of the imagination, Walmart’s choice means the retailer will lose its vaping product sales, but the consumer trust and positive PR it gains by refusing to sell the products can make up for the difference.

Related reading:


Nestle is turning its KitKat bars into luxury items in the United Kingdom for the holiday season by offering both limited-edition versions along with options to personalize the candy.

The Guardian reported:

Either via a dedicated website, or by visiting a pop-up stall in John Lewis’s flagship London store, shoppers will be able to order a custom KitKat from nearly 1,500 possible flavour combinations. The ingredient choices include rose petals and cocoa nibs and there is the option to coat the fingers in ruby chocolate. It has also produced “special edition” flavours – a surprising line-up that includes marmalade, Earl Grey and “whisky & ginger”.

Limited-edition flavors cost more than $9 each and personalized bars cost more than $17, but the offerings are based off the brand’s most popular Instagram posts, ensuring the flavors will pique consumers’ interest.

No word yet on whether any KitKat bars will be flavored like a Popeyes chicken sandwich.

Disney chief reveals why he said ‘no’ to Twitter deal

In an interview with The New York Times, Walt Disney Co.’s chief executive, Bob Iger, said the reason the company decided not to buy Twitter was that the platform’s struggles are too extensive for Disney to take on.

Iger told The Times:

… The nastiness is extraordinary. I like looking at my Twitter newsfeed because I want to follow 15, 20 different subjects. Then you turn and look at your notifications and you’re immediately saying, why am I doing this? Why do I endure this pain? Like a lot of these platforms, they have the ability to do a lot of good in our world. They also have an ability to do a lot of bad. I didn’t want to take that on.”

 Why it matters: As Twitter and other social media platforms struggle for user numbers and growth—along with grappling with PR crises sprouted from privacy concerns and harassment issues among users, remind yourself that a single platform shouldn’t be where you pin your organization’s online success.

Instead, build robust owned platforms, including your website, newsroom and corporate blog. That way, your digital and social media marketing strategies don’t rely solely on platforms such as Twitter or Facebook that are grappling with systemic problems.

Related reading


We asked you to cite the best way organizations could speak out during recent climate change protests. Nearly half (47%) said sharing employee stories is a strong way of taking a stand—probably because sharing those stories can lead to a more emotional and meaningful connection with consumers:


As we head into the holiday season, it’s time to start thinking about those seasonal shoppers. What’s the most important part of your holiday season marketing plan?

Weigh in and share your thoughts with us under the hashtag #MorningScoop.



One Response to “Thomas Cook collapse strands 600K, Walmart drops e-cigarettes, and holiday shoppers to use voice recognition”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    The Thomas Cook CEO’s statement that Cook “is one of the best-loved brands in travel,” calls to mind the expression: “for love or money.” People pick their travel agent not for love but to save MONEY.

    Whether you’re traveling on an expense account or on your own pounds, “how much” is a question that helps you decide who gets your business. Tina Turner’s song asked what can be a PR significant question: “What’s love got to do with it?”

    Do we want quality? Sure! But most people prefer quality at a good price over quality at any price.

    Self-love is enjoyable but PR wisdom is not to let self-love mask what is more important to a company, the public’s love.

    “How do I love thee,” said a poet, “let me count the ways.” That’s an important job of PR–show the ways and the whys a company deserves to be loved, how the public serves the public interest.

    Without skilled PR a company may fall victim to a peril once expressed by the book title: “I Love You Honey But the Season’s Over.”

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