TikTok’s ads anger influencers, Instagram tests ‘Group Story’ feature, and Houston Rockets apologize for Hong Kong tweet

Also: Brand managers can do better at monitoring reputation, Unilever vows to ditch plastic, and HSBC to lay off 10,000 employees.

Good morning, PR pros:

TikTok is facing backlash from some of its popular users after they appeared in ads for the social media platform.

AdAge reported that although some content creators appreciate being featured, others complain that TikTok uses their content to boost its user base (and, ultimately, its revenue) without sharing the profits.

Many social media platforms use members’ content to promote their offerings, just as organizations use consumer-generated content appearing under branded hashtags to boost the authenticity of PR and marketing efforts. Though legal, the move can chafe content creators working on becoming influencers and attracting large brand deals.

What’s your advice on using crowdsourced content in your ads and marketing campaigns? Share your thoughts with us under the hashtag #MorningScoop.

Here are today’s top stories:

Houston Rockets scramble after Hong Kong tweet

After the NBA team’s general manager, Daryl Morey, tweeted his support for protesters in Hong Kong, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta quickly distanced the team from the tweet:

However, the damage was done: The Chinese Basketball Association suspended its partnership with the Rockets, announcing its state television wouldn’t be airing the team’s games.

NBA officials issued a statement calling Morey’s tweet “regrettable,” and Morey deleted it, posting the following apology:

Why it matters: It’s risky to take a stand on controversial political and social issues—and doing so might not be the right move for your brand. Global hot-button issues are tricky, especially if your organization has a worldwide audience or international stakeholders. Ensure your organization’s executives and leaders don’t make that decision without you and set about  sharing personal beliefs and thoughts on social media channels, unless you’re prepared for the fallout.

Related reading:


According to a study from Clutch, small businesses aren’t doing enough to monitor their reputation online. One way communicators can expand their skills is to learn how to use social media monitoring software.

To learn more about how you can enhance your online reputation, see the full report.

Unilever promises to cut plastic packaging use in half

The company—which owns more than 400 brands, including Ben & Jerry’s, Hellmann’s, Axe, Dove and Dermalogica—vowed to cut its plastic use in half by 2025. The organization currently racks up 700,000 tons of plastic each year.

The Guardian reported:

Its chief executive, Alan Jope, said: “Plastic has its place but that place is not in the environment. Our starting point has to be design, reducing the amount of plastic we use, and then making sure that what we do use increasingly comes from recycled sources.”

 Impress your boss: If you want to endear your organization to consumers, consider adopting or focusing on an issue such as sustainability. Your organization’s values are becoming more important to consumers than your sales, product launches and marketing messages—especially to Gen Z consumers. Along with external messaging, ensure you empower your workforce to participate in your vision and values through employee activism efforts.

Related reading:


Instagram is testing a “Group Story” feature, according to app expert Jane Manchun Wong:

The feature enables users to share updates and conversation with specific groups, not just those you’ve marked as “close friends.”

Though it’s aimed at giving users another opportunity to interact with their communities, brand managers could use the feature to coordinate product information and marketing messages to a group of influencer partners. If you’re an event producer, you could use it to share updates and information with conference attendees.

HSBC to lay off up to 10,000 employees

The banking group is planning to cut more than 4% of its workforce to reduce costs. The Financial Times reported that the layoffs could be announced in a few weeks when HSBC releases its third-quarter results.

Why you should care: Employees are organizations’ lifeblood, so don’t treat them like numbers. Communicate with them openly and transparently before news of any major transformation makes headlines. HSBC is remaining tight-lipped about the rumored job cuts, but hopefully it has already shared its cost-saving plan with its workforce.

Related reading:


We asked for the top perk you wish your organization would offer. Though items including free food, foosball tables and gym memberships might seem appealing, nearly half of you (46%) said you wish you could work from home:

Having the freedom to work when and where you want supersedes other workplace offerings, as 28% listed flexible hours as your top perk.


How do you handle negative comments and reviews from consumers online?

Share your thoughts with the hashtag #MorningScoop.

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