Time’s Up chairwoman resigns amid Cuomo ties, social media design mistakes to avoid, and Norwegian Cruise Line wins right to require vax proof

Also: Coke ads respond to backlash over formula change, hospitality and travel brands hopeful for business travel and Snickers pulls homophobic ad.

Hello, communicators:

The Coca-Cola Company has rolled out a global marketing campaign for its new recipe of Coke Zero Sugar with ads that urge customers to try it first before passing judgement:

The brand’s defensive messaging is a response to backlash from customers who are wary of Coke changing its formula, with many alluding to the storied backlash that the brand faced in the ‘80s when it changed the formula of Coca-Cola and reintroduced it as “New Coke”:

“The lesson that they learned from New Coke was that … consumers really pay attention to this kind of stuff,” Duane Stanford, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest Duane Stanford told CNN. “And it’s a great way to continue to get people to think about your brand. [But] the last thing you want to do is turn off your core consumers.”

This campaign highlights the calculated risk that brands take when introducing a new product or service without first consulting its brand advocates. Leading with a customer-first approach requires composing messaging that explains how customer feedback and preferences have influenced your rebranding decision. If customers have not been consulted, be prepared to explain the reasoning behind your decision with language that still reminds your brand advocates they are being considered.

Time’s Up chairwoman resigns after ties to Cuomo surface

Time’s Up Chairwoman Roberta Kaplan has announced her resignation after last week’s New York attorney general’s report revealed that she counseled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo when a former advisor accused him of sexual harassment in 2020. Considering Times Up’s reputation as a gender equality organization that advocates for the rights of sexual harassment and abuse victims, news of Kaplan’s relationship to Cuomo led to much outcry following last week’s report that found Cuomo harassed at least 11 women and created a toxic workplace environment.

NBC News reports:

The organization, which fights for gender equality and advocates on behalf of sexual abuse victims, announced her resignation in a statement Monday.

“We’ve worked to hold power accountable in board rooms, in the halls of government, and in organizations big and small, and we have felt uniquely capable of doing so because many of us have worked in those very institutions,” the organization said. “Yet, we recognize that this work has sometimes resulted in a lack of trust from the broader survivor community we serve and to which we also belong. We are looking within.” The group added: “Robbie Kaplan, board co-chair, has stepped down from the board. We and she agree that is the right and appropriate thing to do.”

Kaplan’s resignation came shortly after more than 40 sexual abuse survivors penned an open letter to Time’s Up accusing the organization of failing those it purported to protect.

Why it matters:

Time’s Up’s response to Kaplan’s resignation, and the open letter, demonstrates an understanding that the organization has betrayed the trust of the very community it aims to help. The statement falls short of answering for the other instances outlined in the letter when survivors felt that the organization has undermined its own cause. Remember to bolster any crisis statement claims to “look within” by stating the specific policies and procedures that your organization is looking at. Set an expectation for a follow-up announcement, even if a timeline is unknown.

MEASURED THOUGHTS

A recent infographic from Red Website Design highlights seven of the top social media design mistakes to avoid, with simple solutions for doing so, including uploading higher-resolution images to avoid blur, choosing colors that are consistent with your brand and easy on the eyes, optimizing page viewing for mobile and desktop, using grids to make sure that images are properly aligned on the page, and more.

Partner with your web and marketing teams to ensure that these practices are consistent with your communications approach and your content design is optimized for maximum engagement.

Check out the full post here.

TACTICALLY SPEAKING

Several travel and hospitality brands have emphasized the necessity of in-person business events and meetings, and expressed cautious optimism that business travel will pick up toward the end of the year.

The New York Times reports:

Business travel started to return this summer. Delta Air Lines was “beginning to see a return of consulting and sales-related travel and higher volumes in traditionally business-heavy markets like New York City and Boston,” the carrier’s president, Glen Hauenstein, said in mid-July.

“The majority of our corporate accounts have shared their expectation for travel to pick up moving into the fall, and we expect a full business travel recovery in 2022,” Rachel Warnera spokeswoman for American, said last week.

[Frank Passanante, senior vice president of Hilton Worldwide Sales] said he expected the “large-scale conference” business to continue to improve in the second half of 2021. “There is no replacement for live meetings,” he said. “Face-to-face will come back.”

These statements’ lack of customer data and specific projections to support their belief in recovery will do little convince investors and customers that business travel is rebounding as fast as companies hope. They also serve as a reminder to be careful that your conclusions uphold scrutiny and amount to more than spin.

RAGAN’S WEBINAR WITH GRAMMAR GIRL

With language being as fluid as it is, you can’t rely on the tattered old copy of the AP Stylebook from eight years ago, let alone four years ago. Without the most up-to-date information available, you run the risk of your messaging standing out for all the wrong reasons. Whether you seek to improve the writing of your intranet, email, press releases or media outreach, a well-defined style remains a pillar of strong, effective communications.

What can you do to ensure your communications are stylistically modern and professional?

[FREE GUIDE: Pitching the Media]

Join Ragan Communications and Grammar Girl for a webinar on Thursday, Aug. 19, as Grammar Girl herself, Mignon Fogarty, leads us through her advanced course on AP style . You’ll discover how to understand the context that proper AP style brings to your messaging efforts including how to use hyphens and dashes properly, handle terms that relate to race and gender and much more.

Register today!

CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS

Snickers has pulled one of its television ads from Spain after widespread criticism that the ad, in which an effeminate man flirting with a bartender transforms into a bearded man with a deep voice after a friend hands him a Snickers bar.

Business Insider reports:

“Better?” the friend asks. “Better,” replies the man as the company’s tagline reads: “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry.”

On August 5th Snickers apologized for any “misunderstanding that may have been caused.”

The company added that “In this particular campaign, we wanted to convey in a friendly and lighthearted way that hunger can change your character. At no time was it intended to stigmatize or offend any person or collective.”

A spokesperson for Mars Wrigley, the parent company of the Snickers brand, said, as reported in The Guardian: “We recognize that we got it wrong and have removed the online content immediately.”

Snickers’ claims that it takes equal rights and inclusion seriously offers no explanation for how the ad’s copy and content were approved in the first place. It’s hard to believe that someone who identifies as LGBTQ+ had been in the room while this campaign was conceived, as they likely would have disagreed with the brand’s characterization of it as “friendly and lighthearted.” No campaign aimed at a specific identity group should be designed without the active participation of someone belong to that group from the outset.

RAGAN’S 2021 BENCHMARK REPORT

Ragan has released its annual Communications Benchmark Report, an exclusive study from Ragan’s Communications Leadership Council that analyzes the major trends in the profession over the last year.

During that time, comms pros have been called on to develop and distribute messages on new policies that affect internal and external stakeholders alike. Their role has become more essential as they helped keep their organizations focused and moving forward. They’ve seen their access to the C-suite increase throughout 2020, and they forged important new alliances with peers in other departments, including HR, finance and workplace wellness.

Culled from more than 750 respondents, the 32-page report is available in its entirety exclusively to members of the Communications Leadership Council.

Download your copy of the exclusive Benchmark Survey Executive Summary today and get a crucial competitive advantage that will fuel your success for 2021 and beyond.

Norwegian Cruise Line responds to win against Florida ban on vaccine passports

Norwegian Cruise Line has won in the preliminary ruling of a contested legal dispute with the state of Florida over Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on “vaccine passports.” DeSantis’ law, which threatened a penalty of $5,000 per passenger, had caused Norwegian to rethink sailing from ports in Florida altogether.

Reuters reports:

“We are pleased that Judge Williams saw the facts, the law and the science as we did and granted the Company’s motion for preliminary injunction allowing us to operate cruises from Florida with 100% vaccinated guests and crew,” the company’s executive vice president Daniel S. Farkas said in the statement.

Norwegian announced that it plans keep the vaccine mandate in place until at least Oct. 31.

The Washington Post reports:

“The company’s policy of 100% vaccination of guests and crew was in place without issue in every port it sails from around the world except for Florida,” the operator said in a statement Sunday. “Despite the ongoing global pandemic and the accelerating spread of the Delta variant, Florida prohibited the company from requiring vaccine documentation which the company believed would enable it to resume sailing in the safest way possible.”

Norwegian filed suit in federal court against Florida’s surgeon general last month.

“While litigation is a strategic tool of last resort, our company has fought to do what we believe is right and in the best interest of the welfare of our guests, crew and communities we visit in an effort to do our part as responsible corporate citizens to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, further spread of covid-19 as we gradually relaunch our vessels,” Daniel S. Farkas, executive vice president and general counsel of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said in the statement.

What it means:

Norwegian’s ongoing litigation with Florida is a battle wherein two parties both believe they are doing what’s best for their internal and external stakeholders. By emphasizing on the intersection of facts, law and science in its statement, the cruise line regains control of the narrative and reframes it from being a moral and political conversation as DeSantis has done.

By framing its decision around the specific needs of the company’s passengers and crew, and not making it about Florida’s policies writ large, Norwegian has also reinforced its commitments to stakeholders and demonstrated a willingness to put their well-being first.

WHAT YOU SAID

Yesterday we asked if you have partnered with any industry influencers during the pandemic to reinforce your company’s changing policies or new purpose work. A resounding 82% said that you have not, while 18% have.

Is there a question you’d like to see asked? Let us know using #DailyScoop!

COMMENT

3 Responses to “Time’s Up chairwoman resigns amid Cuomo ties, social media design mistakes to avoid, and Norwegian Cruise Line wins right to require vax proof”

    Ronald N Levy says:

    A CEO when accused may say: “Let’s fight to the death!”

    But at the great PR firms, Accusation PR experts have a better idea: “Fight to win!”

    If you can’t win NOW, try to pull out and win LATER but win!

    CEOs and senior officers are eager for “fairness” and may seriously favor fighting to the death (which some do) trying to get fairness. But the public including you may be much better off in an Accusation PR situation if you avoid death, which is the worst possible outcome.

    The better goal in a public policy fight is not “fairness” because even bright, honest people may not agree on what outcome would be most fair. Also fairness to whom and at what price to the public? The better goal is WINNING. The way to win is by showing the public how the public will benefit if you do win.

    The public has the power to give you victory, victory may give you the power to benefit the public, and the public properly yearns for benefit so the honest and best thing to do is to fight for what you believe in: (a) the outcome that you believe will be best, (b) the freedom of speech that may get you the win you believe you deserve, and (c) communications that help the public see what you know or sense to be true.

    President Kennedy was re-elected after allegedly having nude pool parties in the White House. Trump was elected after admitting on tape that he grabbed women’s intimate parts. Cuomo may again be elected if he makes the case convincingly that “this election isn’t about me, it’s about you the people of New York so let’s look at the evidence of which candidate can do the best job of protecting your health, your money, your freedom of speech and your happiness.”

    One key lesson Accusation PR experience teaches is that victory can still be possible even when it looks unlikely. Another lesson is that 100% of the time, Accusation PR victory is better than fighting to the death.

    Emerson Schwartzkopf says:

    I don’t know the veracity of the pool-clothing claims during John Kennedy’s presidency, but I DO know he only faced the nation’s voters once: 1960.

    There are several accounts of nude swimming in the White House pool during Lyndon Johnson’s administration, but the image of a naked LBJ cavorting in the chlorine is something I’d like to avoid.

    Ronald N Levy says:

    Emerson is certainly correct in saying Kennedy was not re-elected and I was wrong in not saying “seemed highly likely” to be re-elected. I was also wrong in saying “the better goal in a public policy fight is not fairness” but is winning.
    Sometimes PR success in getting fairness may produce success for both the public and a company.

    The life of an earlier Emerson, Ralph Waldo, shows that even after a lifetime of public adulation, public popularity may be reversed. Wikipedia relates that although “Emerson had been hailed, he was denounced” and called a poisoner of young men’s minds.

    Worth attention in PR is the Wikipedia addition: “Despite the roar of critics, he made no reply, leaving others to put forward a reply.” How did this work out for Emerson after the roar of critics? Says Wikipedia: “He was not invited back to speak at Harvard for another thirty years.”

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