The Week in PR

  1. 1. Burrito (Unknown)E. coli: While Chipotle dealt quickly and transparently with its E. coli crisis (PRN, Nov. 15), the stain remains. As of Nov. 29, there were 45 known cases of E. coli O26 in six states linked to Chipotle outlets, dating from Oct. 19, The Food Poison Journal reported. Worse for Chipotle, its share price fell to 564.81 at market close last Thursday, down nearly 25% since disclosing that it was voluntarily closing 43 outlets Halloween weekend. The stores have reopened and the Denver-based burrito maker said last week it’s set to announce new guidelines for its local produce suppliers. CEO Steve Ells will speak Tuesday at a financial conference and is expected to outline the stricter guidelines. Meanwhile the E. coli O157 strain linked to Costco chicken salad made with celery from Taylor Farms Pacific has infected 19 people in seven states, dating from Oct. 6. While Taylor expanded its recall of products last week, chairman/CEO Bruce Taylor contends health officials are overreacting by linking Taylor celery to the E. coli. He said the recall is predicated on “an abundance of caution,” later speaking of a “false alarm,” The San Jose Mercury News reports. Unlike the E. coli strain linked to Chipotle, the O157 variety can lead to death. We wish a speedy recovery to those affected and that Mr. Taylor doesn’t have to eat his words. – We report the bad and the good. After halting production of ice cream due to a listeria outbreak (PRN April 23, May 11), Blue Bell Creameries restarted production at its third and last major plant, in Brenham, TX, late last month. Ice cream from the plant will be monitored and there’s no firm date as to when it will be sent to market for sale, Blue Bell said. – Integration continues to be one of the industry’s buzzwords. Publicis Groupe last week said it “radically” reorganized its leadership and agency networks into four groups, “putting the client at the heart of [the] organization…the idea consists of reversing [the] current structure, built around the concept of worldwide networks, by breaking down silos in order to offer clients the Groupe’s entire know-how and expertise...all Publicis Groupe capabilities will be available to each…client...,” the company said in a statement. Client service will be paramount, it added. Chief client officers will be responsible “for the entire range of services and skills the client can benefit from, no matter the discipline or the country. Whenever possible, the dedicated teams will be gathered under one roof…the mission will be to simplify the way clients access the range of solutions, without duplication or delay, and to accelerate the Groupe’s growth and development.” The four groups are: Publicis Communications, Publicis Media, Publicis.Sapient and Publicis Healthcare.
  2. Millennials-e1402570122385CSR for the Long Run: The consumer can be sophisticated, particularly when he or she is a millennial considering issues surrounding corporate social responsibility (CSR). The first Aflac CSR Survey reports four of five respondents (81%) said they were more likely to buy from a company whose philanthropic work was done consistently, year-round—rather than those that activate only in times of need. Aflac conducted the survey online in August and September, with some 6,000 people responding. Not surprisingly, the survey also found that CSR and philanthropy are more top of mind on a daily basis for millennials than for those older than 35; 92% of millennials said they are more likely to purchase from companies they perceive as ethical. The surprise, though, was that older generations lack the same sentiment toward CSR as millennials. Being a parent also influences attitudes toward CSR, the study found. For example, more millennials (49%) than non-millennials (36%) would donate a large portion of their salary to a cause that has affected them or a loved one and live modestly. When asked the same question, more parents (51%) than non-parents (32%) would do the same. Millennials (66%) and parents (69%) say they are likely to invest in a company well known for its CSR program compared to non-millennials (48%) and non-parents (40%). “Data shows that parents tend to view CSR and philanthropy through the eyes of their children and have views similar to younger people,” Aflac SVP of corporate communications Catherine Blades said. “Our survey makes it clear: Successful companies will pay attention not only to the emerging needs of millennials, but the different way in which they view the world. To them, who you are is as important, if not more important, than the products you produce.”
  3. Renee Wilson, President, PR Council

    People: As we went to press Subway named Coca-Cola’s chief marketing and commercial officer Joseph Tripodi its CMO. -- Veteran SeaWorld Entertainment VP of communications Fred Jacobs left the company last week after more than 20 years. While SeaWorld praised Jacobs’ work, it gave no reason for his departure. – The PR Council selected Renee Wilson as president, succeeding Kathy Cripps. Wilson joins from MSLGroup, where she served as chief client officer. Renee Wilson, President, PR Council.

This article originally appeared in the December 7, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.