Walmart garners backlash for pro-gun shirts, Olive Garden offers lifetime pasta pass, and 70% of employees want job training

Also: Google facing antitrust concerns over its job-search feature, Twitter tests tool for users to more easily follow conversations, and Chick-fil-A introduces a cheesy side dish.

Good morning, PR pros:

Olive Garden is bringing back its popular “Never Ending Pasta Pass” promotion on Aug. 15, selling 24,000 of the passes that, for $100, offer unlimited pasta from Sept. 23 through Nov. 24.

This time around, the restaurant chain is upping the carb-loaded ante: Those first to the proverbial table can upgrade to a “Lifetime Pasta Pass” for an extra $400—but only 50 are available.

The offering is already causing a buzz across social media platforms and in headlines.

How might you add an element to enhance an existing campaign or well-loved marketing stunt? Share with us under the hashtag #MorningScoop.

Here are today’s top stories:

Walmart criticized for pro-gun shirts

The retail chain has faced backlash for pro-gun T-shirts sold through third-party vendors on its website. One image that made the rounds online shows two checkboxes, labeled “gun owner” and “victim”:

Though Walmart has stayed silent in response to reporters’ questions, listings for the shirts were removed as news outlets reported on the growing outrage.

Why you should care: PR pros must diligently scan the news, social media outlets and their own ecosystems for potential PR crises, especially when their organizations are already under scrutiny. This can be difficult when working with influencers or third-party vendors, but monitoring the horizon can help you sidestep a large PR headache.

Walmart has been slammed for continuing gun sales following two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio in which 31 people were killed. Executives recently told store managers to remove all displays and signs promoting violent video games and films. It would have been wise to also remove potentially offensive offerings from its online storefront.

Related reading:


MEASURED THOUGHTS

Your employees want to learn new skills.

According to a study from Clutch, 70% or employees say they would participate in employer-provided job retraining.

The study also found that many organizations haven’t invested in training for their teams in over a year, highlighting what could be a competitive disadvantage for retaining talent—and achieving your business goals.

How often does your team participate in continuing education? Share what works for your organization on Twitter with the hashtag #MorningScoop.

Google job search tool attracts antitrust concerns

More than 20 job search websites in Europe have asked the European Union competition commissioner to investigate the tech giant for unfairly attracting audiences seeking job openings.

Reuters reported:

Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google places a large widget for the 2-year-old tool at the top of results for searches such as “call center jobs” in most of the world.

Some rivals allege that positioning is illegal because Google is using its dominance to attract users to its specialized search offering without the traditional marketing investments they have to make.

There is no word yet as to whether authorities in the United States are looking into antitrust concerns about this feature.

Why it matters: Though Google continues to struggle with antitrust and privacy concerns, the feature does offer opportunities for savvy communicators looking to attract more candidates and boost brand recognition.

Beef up your talent recruitment (and, by extension, your branding efforts) by ensuring your job listings follow digital content best practices and use several platforms and jobs sites to reach a variety of applicants. Don’t forget to tap your social media communities, as well.

Related reading:


TACTICALLY SPEAKING

Chick-fil-A has introduced its first new side in three years, and it’s quite cheesy.

In a press release, the fast-food chain wrote:

Mac & Cheese was tested in five markets and passed with flying colors. “We have a very high bar when it comes to adding a menu item,” said [executive director of menu and packaging, Amanda Norris], “but the feedback from our customers in the test markets made this decision easy. I am excited it will be available for all of our guests across the country starting today.”

No word yet on the option for a lifetime pass on this new item.

Consider how you can add to your offerings or messages by heeding stakeholder feedback.

Twitter tests tweet-reply tool

The social media platform might soon roll out a feature enabling users to subscribe to an interesting tweet’s replies.

TechCrunch reported:

The larger goal of those tests and this new one is to personalize the experience of participating in Twitter conversations by showcasing what the people you follow are saying, while also making a conversation easier to follow by seeing when the original poster and those they mentioned have chimed in.

This latest test takes things a step further by actually subscribing you to those sorts of replies — or even all the replies to a tweet, if you choose.

Why it matters: As Twitter continues to introduce tools that cater to better conversations on its platform, communicators should note the multitude of opportunities that Twitter provides to enhance social media strategies as well as media relations, content marketing and executive communications efforts.

Use Twitter to quickly and effectively publish your organization’s news and content. If your leaders are active, they can share updates and opinions, which can build trust among stakeholders.

To highlight consumers’ changing ways of consuming news through Twitter trends and conversations, here’s an interaction regarding Oakland Raiders player Antonio Brown, tweeted by Sports Illustrated’s Michael Silver:

Related reading:


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked you to caption a GIF that encapsulates PR pros’ often hectic schedules and late-night work fests, and several of you offered remarks that will make any communicator nod in agreement (and perhaps shed a tear):

We want you to know that PR Daily’s team can relate, PR pros. Here’s a caption courtesy of Ragan Communications’ executive editor:


SOUNDING BOARD

Earned media is a still the cornerstone of the PR role, and that means knowing how to pitch a journalist your story. What’s the best tool at your disposal for grabbing an overworked reporter’s attention?

Did we miss your favorite tool? Please tell us about it with the hashtag #MorningScoop, or leave a note in the comments.


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