Twitter defends enforcement, Ben & Jerry’s bold race-relations statement, and Edelman lays off 400

Also: Wendy’s, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut criticized as misinformation spreads, Instagram guides #BlackOutTuesday participants, consumers want brands to take a stand, and more.

Hello, communicators:

Ben & Jerry’s issued an open letter titled, “We must dismantle white supremacy: Silence is not an option.”

 In the statement, the ice cream company wrote:

The murder of George Floyd was the result of inhumane police brutality that is perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy. What happened to George Floyd was not the result of a bad apple; it was the predictable consequence of a racist and prejudiced system and culture that has treated Black bodies as the enemy from the beginning. What happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis is the fruit borne of toxic seeds planted on the shores of our country in Jamestown in 1619, when the first enslaved men and women arrived on this continent. Floyd is the latest in a long list of names that stretches back to that time and that shore. Some of those names we know — Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jr. — most we don’t.

Ben & Jerry’s called for elected officials, including President Donald Trump, to “commit our nation to a formal process of healing and reconciliation;” for Congress to pass legislation that “would create a commission to study the effects of slavery and discrimination from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies;” for a national task force to end racial violence and increase police accountability, and for the Department of Justice to “reinvigorate its Civil Rights Division as a staunch defender of the rights of Black and Brown people.”

Ben & Jerry’s has already been garnering support for the bold statement, showing the opportunity for organizations to take risks when standing for social and political issues.

Here are today’s top stories:

Twitter explains recent enforcement decisions

The social media platform issued a tweet thread detailing its recent moves to add warning labels to President Donald Trump’s tweets, including “fact check” notices:

It closed its thread with the following message:

We will continue to be transparent in how we make our decisions and be open with our rationale on how we label certain tweets. Publicly sharing our work is core to everything we do. If we can’t explain and be confident in our determination, we will not label a tweet.

Why it’s important: Just as Twitter has been called on by critics to explain and defend its reasoning, so might your organization for a business decision or its response to a crisis. Especially as protests continue and organizations grapple with race relations and COVID-19, transparency is paramount within your communications. Drop the jargon and overcomplicated executive remarks, and instead speak simply and clearly on your decisions, why you made them, and your plans for the future.


SOCIAL BUZZ

On Tuesday, Wendy’s faced backlash on Twitter, along with Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, after news of a franchisee’s political donations made the rounds online.

Business Insider reported:

In mid-May, the White House announced that Muy Cos. CEO James Bodenstedt would participate in the roundtable. Muy Cos. owns and operates hundreds of Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut locations across the US, making Bodenstedt the first fast-food franchisee to publicly advise the White House on how to help the restaurant industry recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Bodenstedt donated more than $440,000 to the president’s reelection campaign, Business Insider reported at the time. Most recently, in March, Bodenstedt donated $200,000 to the Trump Victory PAC.

Wendy’s chief executive, Todd Penegor, didn’t make the donations, nor did David Gibbs, chief executive for Yum Brands. Though some Twitter users tweeted this information, the hashtag #WendysIsOverParty trended.

Wendy’s and Pizza Hut remained silent on social media and did not issue statements to reporters. Taco Bell tweeted a short response:

The situation can serve as a reminder of how quickly misinformation can spread—along with the importance for communicators to be prepared for backlash at any time, even during ongoing crises. Decide on a general response framework now, so you can more easily make decisions when the clock is ticking and consumers are angry.


MEASURED THOUGHTS

Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust, the agency revealed that consumers’ growing concerns about brands’ affect on societal issues is a main reason they must trust the organizations in which they patronize. More than two-thirds (67%) of consumers said they want to trust that organizations are involved in social issues, along with expressing the same values and fighting against fake news.

Image courtesy of Edelman.

You can read the entire report here.


CRISIS LEADERSHIP BOARD

Looking for more insight on how to address the current global crisis and lead your organization into a strong recovery?

Join Ragan’s Crisis Leadership Board to network and brainstorm with peers, get the latest intelligence, and research and start to strategize for the future of your organization.

Learn more about this exclusive membership here.

Edelman cuts roughly 7% of its workforce

The global PR agency announced during a town hall that it was laying off almost 400 of its roughly 6,000 employees. Edelman also asked its vice presidents and executives to take salary cuts ranging from 5% to 20%.

Why it matters: Though the announcement and employee engagement was conducted in line with communications best practices, the job cuts are making headlines because the agency’s chief executive, Richard Edelman, promised his workforce in March that there would be no layoffs. He’s not the only leader to make the declaration, but he joins the examples showcasing how failing to keep promises can undercut your authority in times of uncertainty.


RESEARCH SNAPSHOT

The COVID-19 crisis has drastically changed the landscape for communicators and PR pros. More than ever before, communicators must gain key skill sets and employ strategic communications and media relations strategies to boost their organizations’ coverage, reputation and overall brand.

Learn what the 315 communicators we surveyed say about what parts of the PR function are more important than ever, how to adjust for COVID-19, and more with our free report revealing insights that can help you persevere during this uncertain time.

Download your copy of the report here.


TACTICALLY SPEAKING

Hello Fresh recently severed ties with actress Lea Michele after backlash grew over reports of inappropriate behavior with fellow castmates on her breakout hit “Glee.”

Today reported:

The meal kit company announced Tuesday it is terminating its relationship with the actress after she was called out on Twitter by a former “Glee” co-star who responded to her Black Lives Matter tweet by alleging Michele made her life on the set a “living hell.”

The company’s social media team issued responses to Twitter users’ concerns, but stopped short of tweeting a standalone response:

Michelle has apologized, but brand managers are taking care to analyze the risks out there for their marketing portfolios.


SOCIAL BUZZ

On Tuesday, Instagram tweeted guidance for participating in the #BlackOutTuesday protests, after organizers and social media users complained that the blacked-out posts were obscuring crucial information and updates under the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag:

The next time you participate in a virtal protest, double-check your messages and the hashtag. This best practice also should be applied to any branded hashtags you use for contests and campaigns.


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked if the recent protests and brands taking a stand have moved your organization to reevaluate its diversity, inclusion and equity efforts, with nearly half of you (47%) saying you’re making small changes. Nearly 32% of you are preparing for big changes within your organizations, compared with 21% who aren’t making any adjustments to their current culture:


SOUNDING BOARD

Has your CEO or top leader made a statement to your organization or external audiences about the events of the past week? What kinds of messages have been reassuring or have fallen short?

Weigh in on our poll and share your thoughts about what executive leadership looks like right now by tweeting us @PRDaily with our hashtag #DailyScoop.

 

COMMENT

3 Responses to “Twitter defends enforcement, Ben & Jerry’s bold race-relations statement, and Edelman lays off 400”

    Jacquie says:

    How ironic that Edelman issues its trust survey and then lays off hundreds of employees.

    No, consumers don’t “need to trust brands” more as the headline above the survey graphic says. Instead, workers need to be able to trust their employers but they really cannot, because actions always speak louder than words.

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    The 400 Edelman employees are more likely to be re-employed, and the clients will more likely have available the benefit of their services in the future, thanks to
    management staying healthy by facing the reality that an employer can’t keep paying out indefinitely more than is coming in.

    You can tell what you believe in and hope for but no one—not Richard Edelman nor any of us nor anyone in business—can say for sure that there won’t be an earthquake or that the pandemic won’t be much worse than expected.

    Edelman is but only awesomely successful for clients but also awesomely moral so clients know Edelman won’t bill them for more hours than needed. A PR firm can’t keep paying out what can’t be billed to clients , so at least a temporary reduction in employment is unavoidable.

    Fortunately the sun will come out in the morning, the pandemic will end, and clients will continue to benefit hugely from Edelman’s PR guidance and skills. The 400 employees will in some cases return to Edelman, and will in some cases enjoy high success elsewhere thanks to all that they learned working in the Harvard of PR firms.

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    Look who else benefits from not paying 400 employees who because of the pandemic or the economy are no longer needed. Also benefiting are the 5,600 employees who ARE needed by the clients and by the PR firm, and whose families need the continued income.

    When ANY business, even a great university or hospital, has to lay off people no longer needed, three groups benefit.

    .1. The remaining employees because their well deserved jobs would be jeopardized if the employer has to pay for people no longer needed.

    .2. The customers or patients or students because the organization is better able to do a good job for them if it doesn’t have to pay for what it doesn’t need.

    .3. The organization because no organization can survive indefinitely if it has to pay out more than is coming in.

    Even those laid off may be better off working where there is work for them to do and where they are needed rather than remaining on a payroll where they aren’t.

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