Week in PR

  1. Is the price right?

    Say What? As we reported last week in these pages, Chipotle’s top financial man, CFO Jack Hartung, said that its proposed industry-leading food safety program likely would result in the burrito maker having to raise prices, perhaps in 2017. This week the brand’s founder, chairman and co-CEO Steve Ells did an about face. In Seattle during a visit to a Chipotle restaurant, Ells told the Associated Press prices would not rise as a result of the new procedures. “This is a cost we will bear,” Ells said. To his credit, Ells provided a variation on a transparent statement he’d made two weeks ago in NY, saying, “It is impossible to ensure that there is a zero percent chance of any kind of food-borne illness anytime anyone eats anywhere.” In NY he said, “We can’t inspect every tomato.” Mansour Samadpour, president/CEO of IEH Laboratories, which helped Chipotle set up its food safety program, called it unique and years ahead of the industry standard. “This is an industrial-strength program,” Samadpour said, according to The Chicago Tribune. [Katie Paine grades Chipotle. See page 1.] – Say What? Part II: If your definition of a socially responsible company includes one that pays its fair share of taxes, think again. A study to be published in the American Accounting Association journal The Accounting Review next month says companies’ CSR ratings have a negative relationship to their effective tax rates. In plain English, brands with high CSR ratings pay taxes at lower rates. “More specifically, in a large sample of U.S. firms in which the effective tax rate averaged 26%, those ranked in the top fifth in CSR paid an average of 1.7 percentage points below what the remainder paid,” said CFO magazine. Not surprisingly, brands with high CSR ratings were more likely to engage in tax lobbying than companies with lower CSR scores. “Firms in the highest quintile of [the] CSR Index have approximately a 158% higher probability of lobbying” on tax issues “…than other firms,” the study says, according to CFO. The study’s authors lack definitive reasons for all this. Taking the high road, they speculated brands with high CSR scores may believe high tax rates impede their ability to do good works. They also admitted brands may engage in CSR to deflect attention away from their “aggressive tax practices.” The researchers studied large corporations’ data of 2002 through 2011. – Cision emerged as the victor in a contest to acquire distribution service PR Newswire from Britain’s UBM. The price reportedly was $841 million.

  2. imagesPlatform Prater: Weber Shandwick said last week it’s the first global PR agency to have access to Facebook’s tool Facebook at Work (PRN, Jan 26). The company says it’s one of just 300 brands worldwide to have access to the Facebook tool before it’s released publicly next year. “As a mobile-first platform, Facebook at Work is a separate and secure professional resource, allowing only the coworkers within a company to see information that’s posted,” Weber Shandwick said. “We’re excited to be the first company to look at this from our clients’ perspective to see how it could work as a communications tool for engaging one of our clients’ key constituencies—their employees,” said Adam Clyne, head of digital, EMEA, Weber Shandwick.
  3. Fab Four: Pearson, Kraus, van Bergen and LaPlaca

    People: At our press time, Walmart said it stayed within for a successor to retiring U.S. CMO Stephen Quinn (PRN, Dec. 14), naming its CMO for China Tony Rogers to the post. The 10-year Walmart vet will report to Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart U.S. Foran was CEO of Walmart China when Rogers worked there. – Apple named former Grey Worldwide chief creative officer and whiz kid Tor Myhren its VP, marketing communications. – Commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield named Stefanie Murphy VP, global PR. She joins from LaSalle Investment Management, where she served as global director of corporate communications. Previous stops include positions at CKPR and Edelman. – Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts appointed Mary Caraccioli chief of PR and media strategy. Caraccioli comes from Al Jazeera America, where she was SVP of news and planning. – Props to Brian Bartow, director of communications, St. Louis Cardinals, who won the Robert O. Fishel Award for PR excellence. Major League Baseball makes the award annually. Bartow began with the Cards as an intern in 1985. – Congrats, too, to the quartet of PR pros pictured above, from left: Bob Pearson, president, chief innovation officer, W2O Group; Margery Kraus, founder & executive chairman, APCO Worldwide; Karen van Bergen, CEO, Porter Novelli; and Chris LaPlaca,SVP, corporate communications, ESPN. The industry leaders were inducted into PR News’ Hall of Fame during a gala event in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. Editor’s Note: This is your final PR News for 2015. Your next edition will be dated January 4, 2016. Happy New Year.

This article originally appeared in the December 21, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.