Good morning, PR pros:
A Google employee’s memo is going viral within the company, racking up more than 10,000 views by fellow staffers since it was published last week. The memo alleges she faced discrimination and then retaliation because of her pregnancy and maternity leave.
Meanwhile, a Walmart employee is reporting that the retail behemoth retaliated against him after he urged co-workers to sign a petition asking the chain to stop selling firearms and ammunition following recent mass shootings. The employee’s access to his corporate email account and the company’s Slack channel have been suspended.
Both crises highlight the importance of listening to employees’ concerns and addressing them quickly, instead of ignoring growing criticism. By avoiding responses, organizations risk having their workplace’s dirty laundry put on display for all to see, sending shockwaves through the internal culture and tarnishing its public reputation.
How can you better engage your employees to avoid a PR crisis?
Here are today’s top stories:
Victoria’s Secret marketing chief departs after transgender model is hired
In November, Victoria’s Secret’s chief marketing officer, Ed Razek, apologized after he implied that transgender models don’t fit the company’s “fantasy” image. Times have changed, because Victoria’s Secret recently hired 22-year-old transgender model Valentina Sampaio:
Days after the casting, Victoria’s Secret said goodbye to Razek.
The news that Razek is to retire, which came via a note from Leslie Wexner, the chair and chief executive of the brand’s parent company, L Brands, comes at a time when Victoria’s Secret has faced increasing criticism in the post-#MeToo and Time’s Up era.
Why you should care: “Out with the old and in with the new” is a helpful adage to embrace when it comes to PR and marketing messages, as well as tired tropes and dated mindsets. To engage today’s ever-changing and diverse audience groups, make sure your communications team can look past stereotypes and come up with fresh ideas.
- Victoria’s Secret exec apologizes after interview gaffe
- Wells Fargo chief resigns amid demands to fix the company’s culture
- Gillette wins fans with ad featuring transgender man
How many hashtags is too many for your Instagram post? The optimal number of these social media labels depends on the size of your following, according to a new study from Social Insider. It can also matter whether you put the hashtag in the caption or in the first comment on your post.
One thing is certain: Smaller followings have better engagement rates.
Walgreens to close 200 stores
The retail chain is slimming its brick-and-mortar portfolio to cut costs and keep up with growing e-commerce trends. Though 200 stores is a sizeable list, that’s fewer than 3% of Walgreen’s 10,000 locations, and the company says it plans to keep “the majority” of employees by hiring them in other locations.
The closings follow an announcement earlier this year by Walgreens’ parent company, Walgreens Boots Alliance, to close 200 stores in the United Kingdom.
Why it matters: Organizations must change to meet consumers’ shopping habits and behaviors, or they risk being left in the dust. If you’re facing a transformation, ensure you communicate it, sans corporate jargon, to your employees first.
Walgreens’ clunky statement is an example of what to avoid.
“As previously announced, we are undertaking a transformational cost management program to accelerate the ongoing transformation of our business, enable investments in key areas and to become a more efficient enterprise,” the company said in a statement.
- Payless shuttering 2,500 stores as it declares bankruptcy—again
- Sears files bankruptcy, but the bran’s rebirth seems dubious
- General Motors to lay off 14,700 employees in ‘staffing transformation’
Krispy Kreme and Reese’s recently teamed up by placing the iconic chocolate-and-peanut-butter combination inside the popular doughnuts:
— Krispy Kreme (@krispykreme) August 5, 2019
— REESE'S (@reeses) August 5, 2019
Consumers reacted with glee to the partnership:
OH MAN ! pic.twitter.com/hbVqerjiIJ
— franko65 (@Raiderfrank65) August 5, 2019
— Anthony Borruto Jr (@MrRabato) August 5, 2019
Looking to reach a new audience of potential customers? Consider teaming up with another popular organization to maximize your media reach.
Coca-Cola stands firm on diversity amid Hungarian ad backlash
The beverage giant is facing criticism for its “Love is Love” ads, which feature same-sex couples embracing and kissing over bottles of Coca-Cola:
An online petition calling for a Coke boycott has roughly 50,000 signatures, and at least one Hungarian politician has asked for the ads to be removed. However, the company defended its ads, saying they reflect company values.
Why it matters: More than ever before, consumers look to organizations to embrace diversity and inclusion, along with vocalizing stances on social and political issues. Decide how these issues fit into your organization’s values and mission—and then stay firm in the face of criticism, referring to these values in your response.
Coke did just that in its short, but powerful statement defending the ads.
“The Coca-Cola Company strives for diversity, inclusion and equality in our business, and we support these rights in society as well,” a company spokesperson said a statement. “As a long-standing supporter of the LGBTQI community, we believe everyone has the right to love the person they choose. The campaign currently running in Hungary reflects these values.”
- Converse debuts transgender-themed sneakers in ‘Pride Collection’
- Why diversity and inclusion programs are failing
- Report: All kinds of diversity are essential to brand reputation
WHAT YOU SAID
We asked if “pay to play” communications opportunities are chipping away at PR’s credibility. It’s a nuanced issue for many PR pros, but that doesn’t mean people don’t feel strongly about the topic.
Though most of you said it’s a problem, more than a third said “pay to play” tactics are OK, provided there’s disclosure:
Is "pay to play" eroding PR's credibility?
— PR Daily (@PRDaily) August 6, 2019
Caitlin New, senior supervisor at Ink Communications, highlighted the crucial element of transparency and said that sponsored content can be “mutually beneficial to readers and the brand”—provided it’s well done and properly disclosed.
Lack of transparency can hurt the reputations of both the sponsor and the publisher.
However, "pay to play" opps that target media/PR professionals and aren't offered with full disclosure, or don't provide meaningful value, are really annoying and hurts the credibility of that specific media brand, IMO.
— Caitlin New (@CaitlinNew) August 6, 2019
How much are you focusing on diversity and inclusion this year? Sound off with your insights on Twitter @PRDaily:
Hey PR pros: How much of your role in 2019 is about promoting diversity and inclusion? Share your thoughts for our #MorningScoop.
— PR Daily (@PRDaily) August 7, 2019
Don’t forget the hashtag #MorningScoop.