CORONAVIRUS UPDATES: Communications, Coverage and PR Best Practices

coronavirus outbreak

April 30, 2020

Poll Results: Will Brands Suffer Reputation Damage from the PPP Dust-up?

By Nicole Schuman

This week PRNEWS conducted a survey for readers regarding the future of reputations for well-known brands benefiting from financial programs including the Payroll Protection Program and philanthropic giving.

Brands like Shake Shack, the Los Angeles Lakers and Ruth's Chris Steak House receiving, then returning, millions of dollars in government aid left many onlookers asking, why did these multi-million dollar companies (in the Lakers' case, $4.4 billion) even apply for a program geared towards saving small businesses? Or was the federal government at fault for botching the requirements for assistance, allowing loopholes for global companies to apply?

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April 29, 2020

Mayo Clinic Elbow-Bumps Communications Crisis, While Mask-less Pence Takes the Heat

By Sophie Maerowitz

On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence drew ire on social media and in news outlets after he appeared in photos and video without wearing a mask on a visit to Mayo Clinic coronavirus patients. Mayo Clinic posted a tweet noting that Pence was advised of their mask requirement, but later deleted it.

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April 28, 2020

Brands Focus #NationalSuperheroDay on Real-Life Superheroes

By Nicole Schuman

Brands and individuals pivoted from honoring the traditional superheroes of Superman and Wonder Woman, to our everyday superheroes—doctors and nurses, grocery clerks, mail carriers, teachers and other essential workers on today's National Superhero Day. The day is currently trending at number one on Twitter, and with these tributes it's easy to see why.

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Poll: Will Brands Suffer Reputation Hit from the PPP Dust-up?

By Seth Arenstein

It’s happened again. The media reports about a large, iconic business receiving money from the Payroll Protection Program (PPP). The first PPP fund of $350 million was supposed to sustain small businesses during the pandemic. This time the unintended recipient was the 'small' business that employs LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers. The basketball team's estimated value is $4.4 billion. King James's salary is $38 million.

Similar to other embarrassed, high-profile brands, the Lakers organization has returned the loan. Some 200 publicly traded companies applied for PPP funds.

PRNEWS is running a short, 6-question survey about this and other coronavirus-related PR and marketing issues. Please take the survey here.

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April 27, 2020

Tyson Foods' Messaging Goals Unclear in Full-Page NYT Advertorial

by Nicole Schuman

While the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in America resulted in empty toilet paper shelves, Tyson Foods may have unofficially announced the second wave of panic buying—chicken and meat products. 

The chicken producer chose to make a large statement this week, taking out a full-page ad in The New York Times to deliver a letter to consumers regarding the closures of plants due to coronavirus, possibly resulting in a foreseen protein shortage. Tyson also took out full-page ads in The Washington Post and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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White House Cancels, then Reschedules Monday’s Coronavirus Task Force Briefing

by Nicole Schuman

[Update 2:10 p.m.: White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said President Donald Trump will now appear at the daily press briefing. It just goes to show in this "new normal" that constant checking in regarding media briefing updates—no matter what public figure or industry—is necessary.]

After a weekend without any coronavirus task force updates from the federal government, the White House announced a full cancellation of today’s briefing.

This comes after a busy weekend of tweeting from President Donald Trump, who questioned the purpose of the briefings and called out the “Lamestream media.”

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April 24, 2020

Even Lysol Can't Clean Up The President's Words

by Seth Arenstein

As a reporter in Washington, you learn that when the president speaks, it’s news. It doesn’t necessarily matter what the president says, it’s still news, according to this rule. Sometimes an insignificant comment from the president gets more coverage than it should.

A corollary to this unwritten rule extends to companies and organizations in crisis: Even the smallest remark or action likely will get media coverage. And one rule that all PR pros know: Words and actions have consequences.

Another PR maxim: When addressing the media, stay in your lane and speak about what you know.

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April 23, 2020

NFL, Brands Test the Boundaries of Communication for Draft Day

by Nicole Schuman

In a world without professional sports, the National Football League will provide a reprieve to fans looking for live action with this week’s NFL draft. In what may be the most highly-anticipated COVID event to date (sorry, Lady Gaga), teams wrangled players and coaches and general managers into a web of wires and wifi, in the hopes that the draft will not only entertain, but function smoothly for the newest class of professional recruits. 

“How the NFL draft performs virtually will be the test-case for major sporting events for the foreseeable future,” said Brett Cummings, senior vice president at FleishmanHillard. “All eyes are on the league, partners and brands to use this moment to re-engage sports fans, who are hungry for the return of live sports, in the most direct way, while still not being tone deaf to current realities.”

Teams leaned into this challenge via social media to virtually ignite the excitement of the draft and engage followers. Many included behind-the-scenes footage of draft offices and rooms in the homes of coaches, general managers and staff who will be making the picks. 

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Two Narratives Battle at The White House Briefing

by Seth Arenstein

In late February, coronavirus was starting to pierce the U.S. zeitgeist. Garland Stansell, the PRSA chair and a veteran health care communicator, told us then that producing a consistent message is critical to communications during a health care crisis. Regardless of the platform you choose, Stansell said, speak with one voice.

Unfortunately, for some, that best practice seems forgotten. Perhaps the most obvious example of conflicting narratives sharing space, and confusing the public, occurs daily during the White House briefing. Last evening's offered the most visible and egregious example.

It included the spectacle of seeing the president trying to get a trio of doctors to accept his point of view about coronavirus. None did.

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April 22, 2020

Earth Day PSA From Greta Thunberg’s Nonprofit Fires Up Press Coverage for Non-COVID Cause

by Sophie Maerowitz

In January, climate activist Greta Thunberg trademarked her student strike movement, #FridaysforFuture, and launched a nonprofit of the same name to handle financials and messaging (namely, donations and book sales). On Jan. 30, Thunberg told BBC News the move was in an effort to stop impersonators from using her name to collect money, contact high-profile individuals and spread false messaging.

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How Disney and Others Should Respond to Critics of COVID-19 Labor Practices

by Sophie Maerowitz

Two days after announcing it would be furloughing 100,000 theme park and hotel workers as a result of coronavirus closures, Disney is facing fire from within (the family, at least). Company heiress and proverbial black sheep Abigail Disney, who in 2019 brought her criticism of management to Capitol Hill,  took to Twitter to call out the conglomerate’s bonus structure. In her 21-tweet thread, Abigail Disney cited a Financial Times article which reported CEO Bob Chapek could earn an annual bonus "of not less than 300 percent" of salary  ($3M currently), and an incentive award of "not less than $15m."

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April 21, 2020

Growth in Polls and Surveys Offers PR a Vision of the New Normal

by Seth Arenstein

One part of the PR pro’s job is to keep up with trends. Fortunately, while many aspects of life are on hold, there's been an uptick in the creation of surveys and polls. In addition, the newly homebound are more willing to respond to pollsters. Poll data pouring forth is helping PR pros create a picture of the new normal. Some of it is surprising.

For example, a survey from CUNY, its sixth weekly iteration, reveals the virus has brought New York City residents closer together. Sixty percent of Big Apple residents say they now feel more connected with fellow New Yorkers; 61 percent feel solidarity with Americans nationwide. So much for gruff, stand-offish New Yorkers, we are in it together.

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April 20, 2020

Ticketmaster Finally Responds to Rising Tide of Customer Complaints

by Nicole Schuman

Ticket buyers hounded Ticketmaster for weeks, wondering when or if they would receive refunds for cancelled sporting events and concerts. Live Nation, parent company of Ticketmaster, offered no reprieve. Postponed events would not lead to refunds, it said, since events would be rescheduled.

As unemployment continued to grow, many ticket-holders were more adamant about refunds. With public demand for refunds rising and Ticketmaster failing to offer clear information, customer service lines were flooded with complaints.

And then the politicians became involved.

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Shake Shack Clearly Communicates Why It Returned Government Loan

by Nicole Schuman

Burger chain Shake Shack announced today it will return $10 million it received from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The $349 billion federal program allowed small businesses to apply for relief during the COVID-19 crisis. It ran dry last week. With revenue of nearly $600 million in 2019, it's a stretch to think of Shake Shack as a small business.

CEO Randy Garutti and founder and chairman Danny Meyer penned a letter, which Garutti posted to LinkedIn. It explained the loan process and why the chain returned the money. The letter also paid tribute to Shake Shake's staff and outlined how PPP can run better.

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April 19, 2020

Mixed Message Again, Poll Shows Americans Split on Washington's Virus Response

by Seth Arenstein

In what's been a regular occurrence for months, inconsistent messaging from the White House about the novel coronavirus continued during the weekend, resulting in a confused public.

To recap, it's clear President Trump wants to re-open the country. Late last week, he issued guidelines for a phased approach to do so. His April 16 blueprint appeared to be reasonable and have the backing of the CDC and medical members of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force.

The next day, however, the president’s messaging centered on politics rather than science. In a series of tweets, the president urged liberation, rather than a staged re-opening, of 3 states: Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia. Messaging about the deliberate, phased opening outlined in the April 16 guidelines was AWOL.

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April 17, 2020

For Cruise Lines and Others, A Day of Reckoning Will Come

by Seth Arenstein

In normal times, the story might be front-page news. At the moment, it’s a juicy item for communicators. The “Bloomberg BusinessWeek” headline and subheads are striking: “Socially Distance This,” the headline reads, the subheads say: “Carnival Executives Knew They Had a Virus Problem, But Kept the Party Going” and “More than 1,500 people on the company’s cruise ships have been diagnosed with Covid-19, and dozens have died.” A large, overhead picture shows four decks of a Carnival ship, packed with passengers eating, swimming, drinking and generally enjoying the moment.

The gist of the April 16 article, by Austin Carr and Chris Palmeri, is that the Carnival line had coronavirus outbreaks on its ships in February and March, but failed to act quickly to protect passengers and crew. Moreover, it continued departures through mid-March.

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April 16, 2020

Stimulus Rollout Leaves Citizens with More Questions than Checks

by Nicole Schuman

Many Americans awoke April 15, on what is normally Tax Day, hoping to find an emergency stimulus payment of up to $1200 in their checking accounts. For some, especially the unemployed or those ill from coronavirus, that money can provide a lifeline to groceries and alleviate looming bills.

While some saw evidence of pending transactions in their accounts, many, particularly those without direct deposit, received no relief. They wondered where their payment was, and what they needed to do to receive it.

Once again, communications is playing a pivotal role in the coronavirus saga. The federal government's guidance surrounding the stimulus rollout has been vague at best. Confusion is the result.

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Michigan Governor Gives Masterclass in Responding to Public Demonstration

by Nicole Schuman

There have been examples of good communications and communicators during the pandemic. Governor Andrew Cuomo and Dr. Anthony Fauci come to mind. Add Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the list.

In response to yesterday's demonstration in her state, where thousands of protesters blasted stay-at-home regulations, Whitmer exemplified the calm, we-not-me approach that PR pros preach for crisis response.

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Keep on Keeping on: PR Pros Pitching More During Virus

by Seth Arenstein

There are two basic ways media relations pros can react to the novel coronavirus: hide or continue working. A new survey shows they’re taking the second route and actually working a bit harder than normal. In April and March, PR pros sent more pitches each day to content creators than they did in February and January, a study released today shows.

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April 15, 2020

Sentiment Roundup: Consumers Appear Hopeful; Interest Groups Make Waves on Social

by Sophie Maerowitz

In the second week of its COVID-19 consumer survey effort, the Ad Council's survey shows consumers are feeling hopeful despite troubling statistics from global and local health authorities. The Ad Council study seeks to identify the media outlets and influencers where Americans are sourcing their news and opinions around the crisis, as well as checking on whether audiences feel public health authorities are meeting their current needs.

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World Leaders Respond to WHO Defunding Announcement

by Sophie Maerowitz

On April 14, President Trump announced he would be cutting funding to the World Health Organization for not doing enough to address the virus in the early days of the outbreak. The Trump administration has received identical criticism for its response. As a longtime critic of the United Nations, WHO’s parent agency, Trump’s transference of blame for minimizing potential impacts of the virus outbreak is not a surprising turn of events.

The While House communications team’s argument hinged on the WHO’s initially acting on underreported cases out of Wuhan, China. “The WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable,” Trump said in an April 14 press conference.

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April 14, 2020

Conflict of Information Nation (Continued)

by Seth Arenstein

In late February, when coronavirus was starting to invade these shores, T. Garland Stansell, the veteran health care communicator, told us, “Whatever you do [in a health crisis], whatever platform you use to communicate,” make sure your messaging is consistent. Everyone at a company or organization needs to read from the same script.

Six weeks later, the advice of Stansell, who's also PRSA's chair and CCO of Children's of Alabama, is barely remembered, particularly judging from the competing onslaught of messages the federal government emits.

Contrasting messages were in evidence again today. During the White House briefing this evening, President Trump said that “more than 20 states” are in “extremely good shape.” These states, the president said, could re-open “fairly quickly…even before the [May 1] date.”

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[See also "Conflict of Information Nation" in the April 13 update below.]

The New Normal Has Its Ups and Downs

by Seth Arenstein

Although you may cringe the next time you see or hear the phrase “the new normal,” it’s part of the communicator’s job to keep tabs on trends. A slew of surveys is helping PR pros pick up on new and emerging patterns.

Though there’s little positive to say about coronavirus, not everything in this moment is negative. For example, with most people homebound, more meals are cooked at home, which a majority see as a positive experience (net + 57), according to an APCO Worldwide survey.

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April 13, 2020

ESPN, Saturday Night Live, Diddy Use Technology to Entertain

by Nicole Schuman

Entertainers need to entertain, and thankfully for a country where the majority are cooped up at home, the diversion is welcome. This weekend introduced a bevy of new normals for traditionally-live programming like professional basketball and the comedic skits of Saturday Night Live. Even early-aughts rap mogul, Diddy, hosted a dance party online to raise money for charity. 

The creators had to get innovative, but you could tell most were happy to be in their wheelhouse, doing what they are best at for the public.

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Conflict of Information Nation

by Nicole Schuman

In a crisis, it's important to have a unified distribution method for essential information. However, with a crisis as overwhelming as COVID-19, many governments look to provide immediate updates to constituents. This can result in public confusion. This past weekend featured updates from the president, governors and mayors. The public found nothing but inconsistencies in what it needed to know.

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April 10, 2020

Communicators May Need to Clean Up Narratives Once Pandemic Subsides

by Seth Arenstein

Several weeks ago, Amazon warehouse worker Chris Smalls was fired. He'd organized a modest (15 workers) protest against the company's alleged failure to provide adequate safety measures for staff working during the pandemic.

Amazon contends it is protecting workers and says it fired Smalls for other reasons. Smalls says that’s nonsense. A leaked memo from an Amazon attorney that discusses a plan to smear Smalls doesn't help the company's case.  In addition, coronavirus reportedly has spread through many parts of the Amazon network. Recently, senators questioned Amazon chief Jeff Bezos about the firing.

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April 9, 2020

Netflix Joins Instagram to Support Self Care and Mental Health for Gen Z/Millennial Audience

by Nicole Schuman

The messages a brand distributes are important, of course. How it distributes them can be just as, if not more, important.

Starting tonight at 7, Netflix will broadcast a series from its Instagram account focusing on self-care and mental health for young adults during the COVID-19 global pandemic.  The series will run weekly on Thursdays through May 14, according to TechCrunch.

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Sen. Loeffler Offers Non-Apology Apology to Explain Financial Missteps

by Nicole Schuman

When you get caught on the wrong side of the law, especially for financial gain, and particularly during the pandemic, you need to provide an explanation for your actions. 

Especially if you are a politician or public figure.

It would appear, today, when reading this Wall Street Journal headline for the column disgraced Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler wrote, that the Republican lawmaker is offering a solution for the bad press about her financial missteps, while defending her innocence with a non-apology apology.

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April 8, 2020

Survey Roundup: Ad Council, CNN and FleishmanHillard Take Pulse of Shaken Consumers

by Sophie Maerowitz

Information gathering is one of the most straightforward ways PR pros can stay informed and productive amid the current crisis, and several groups have published useful surveys in recent days. Perhaps your firm has already begun developing similar polls of its own. For inspiration, here are the PRNEWS editorial team’s top picks.

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In Concise Facebook Live Statement, Sanders Ends 2020 Bid

by Sophie Maerowitz

Bernie Sanders announced today that he will be suspending his presidential campaign. He made the announcement during an uncharacteristically brief, 15-minute Facebook Live broadcast, which started with several minutes of a static frame graphic that thanked supporters and a live-updating countdown clock. (For those organizations getting started on the platform, this is a Facebook Live best practice. It gives viewers time to tune in and sets expectations for reporters).

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Unions and Airline Reps Spar Amid Safety Concerns

by Sophie Maerowitz

After hundreds of Southwest and American Airlines employees tested positive for coronavirus, their respective union spokespeople called for stricter safety measures as well as pressuring airlines to offer exact numbers around deaths and infection rates.

American Airlines' Fort Worth-based flight attendant union, Association of Professional Flight Attendants, reported the second death of a flight attendant due to coronavirus complications on April 7, as well as 100 COVID-positive employees.

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Trump Pulls New Press Secretary Off Campaign Trail

by Sophie Maerowitz

In the latest White House shakeup, President Trump named former campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany his press secretary. Stephanie Grisham, who most recently held the post, was named First Lady Melania Trump's chief of staff. McEnany's tenure includes a stint as a Republican National Committee spokesperson. In addition, she worked as "a token pro-Trump CNN contributor during the 2016 race," as Vanity Fair put it.

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April 7, 2020

COVID-19 Mentions on Social Decline; Data Shows Public Seeks Leadership, Clear Medical Info 

by Seth Arenstein

Mentions on social media of COVID-19 during the past seven days have begun to drop, according to new data from Talkwalker, the analytics firm. For example, there was a nearly 5 percent drop in mentions during the last 24 hours, it said at 5:45pm ET today.

We've not reached information overload, however. Americans are not less concerned with news about the virus. Instead, the decline in social mentions relates to the nature of the social conversation. Conversations have moved from the virus to related topics, such health care, PPE and distancing, Talkwalker says.

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#WorldHealthDay Trends #1 on Twitter, World Shows Gratitude

by Nicole Schuman

Just a little more than one week ago, on March 30, the US cheered medical professionals during National Doctors Day. Now the gratitude continues on a global scale, with the World Health Organization honoring the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, on World Health Day.

In a statement from its website, the WHO explained the need for World Health Day, particularly now.

"Nurses and other health workers are at the forefront of COVID-19 response - providing high-quality, respectful treatment and care, leading community dialogue to address fears and questions and, in some instances,  collecting data for clinical studies. Quite simply, without nurses, there would be no response."

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Acting Navy Secretary Offers a Class in How Not to Handle a Crisis

by Seth Arenstein

Move over, Elon Musk. You have competition for the ignominious foot-in-mouth award. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly wants to steal your title. And he’s doing well in his quest.

From a PR viewpoint, Modly’s firing of Captain Brett Crozier last week for writing a letter urging the Navy to address coronavirus on his aircraft carrier has gone from bad to badder to baddest.

[As we write, around 1pm ET, Modly has reportedly resigned or is about to do so.]

Yesterday, days after making what sounded like a mild apology late last week—Modly admitted firing Crozier was the hardest thing he’s had to do—the Navy chief flew to Crozier’s erstwhile carrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, currently anchored off Guam, to defend his actions.

On the face of it, the move was good PR. Instead of remaining silent, Modly jumped into the void.  PR teaches you never to let others write your narrative. Unlike the Houston Astros, who waited for weeks before addressing their miscues, Modly was active. He attempted to offer his narrative.

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April 6, 2020

A Ph.D. Does Not Equal Medical Doctor

by Nicole Schuman

The White House battle to use anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID spilled over onto CNN this morning. White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, claimed his social scientist qualifications as pertinent to read statistical data and make decisions on the effectiveness of the drug.

According to a report by Axios, Navarro sparred with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a meeting of the White House task force on coronavirus regarding use of the drug, which so far, has proved inconclusive in treatment, as Fauci claimed there is only anecdotal evidence. As we reported in the April 4 update (see below) President Trump also continues to flippantly tout the use of hydroxychloroquine in his press conferences without proven scientific evidence.

CNN anchor John Berman called Navarro out regarding his qualifications, and Navarro hit back.

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The Queen Makes Her Coronavirus Entrance

by Nicole Schuman

On a tough day for Britain, in which Downing Street announced Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted into the hospital for complications due to coronavirus, Queen Elizabeth II emerged for a rare address. Not only were loyal subjects looking for guidance, but the queen enticed a global audience looking for reassurance from the 93-year-old matriarch during this pandemic.

This was only the fifth time the queen has conducted such an address in her 68-year reign. Others included a live broadcast after the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, and a statement at the beginning of England's involvement in the Iraq War.

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April 3-4, 2020

The Census Breaks Through as the Shut-Down Remains Incomplete and Trump is Unmasked 

by Seth Arenstein

It’s all-virus-all-the-time for some if not most communicators and audiences. Still, other important messages need to get through, despite the virus-related information overload.

For example, the US Census Bureau must communicate the need for Americans take part in the decade's first census, Census 2020. While the Bureau won’t have workers knocking on doors for a while, it has pivoted quickly. TV and radio ads for Census 2020 mention coronavirus as they urge Americans to fill out census forms online or by mail. In addition, the Bureau is sending text messages and email to Americans with the same ask.

The messaging is working. As of March 31, 35 percent of US households, about 50 million, have responded to the census. This means the self-reporting portion of the Census is roughly on track. The Bureau eventually hopes to hire and send staff into the field, virus permitting. They'd concentrate on what history show are the most difficult groups to count: English as a second language speakers, black men 18-29 and children younger than 5.

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Virus-Related Unit for FleishmanHillard

by Seth Arenstein

FleishmanHillard said April 3 it will debut a cross-functional global practice to provide communication expertise to organizations as they deal with coronavirus. The practice will help companies plan their return to operations as well as adapt to “a dramatically shifting business and social environment,” it said April 3. With clients and offices globally, FleishmanHillard says some companies are nearly ready to transition back to business. Other clients are preparing to reach the pandemic's peak.

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The Reputation Fallout of Navy's Firing Crozier 

by Seth Arenstein

With so many of us homebound, consuming news the way we used to scarf Starbucks, there might not be a worse time to do something that could harm your reputation. Yesterday, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly fired Capt. Brett Crozier, commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, one of 11 US aircraft carriers.

With personnel testing positive for the virus, Crozier wrote a letter to Navy leaders March 30 urging the service to remove the majority of sailors from the carrier. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die,” Crozier wrote. As we write, reports said 140 personnel aboard the carrier tested positive for the virus. A carrier typically carries about 4,000 personnel. A carrier's close, dank confines might be the virus's best friend. They make distancing and quarantining impossible.

The San Francisco Chronicle published Crozier's letter March 31. The issue lingered for several days before Crozier was let go April 2.

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April 2, 2020

Mask Confusion

by Nicole Schuman

You head outside for a run. Your son works as a cashier at the grocery store. You need to take a trip to the pharmacy. You wonder, is a mask necessary?

The messaging surrounding mask usage to prevent coronavirus has been confusing from the get-go. Back in February the U.S. Surgeon General tweeted that masks could not prevent further transmission in an effort to prevent shortages for healthcare workers.

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April 1, 2020

A (Cautionary) Tale of Two Brothers

by Sophie Maerowitz

CNN news anchor Chris Cuomo revealed a COVID diagnosis March 31, posting the update to Twitter and noting concern for his family ahead of his own health. "I am quarantined in my basement (which actually makes the rest of the family seem pleased!)" he wrote.

Despite symptoms ("chills, fever, shortness of breath") and the audio/video quality challenges that stem from broadcasting from his basement, Cuomo has continued to work.

Last night Cuomo was choked up as he interviewed and thanked a Georgia nurse, who, like many healthcare workers, has begun referring to the virus as "The Beast." Wiping his tearstained face following the interview, Cuomo said, "I can touch my face, I’m already sick," warning viewers to "think about what they can do to make that less likely to happen."

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Surveying the Damage

by Sophie Maerowitz

While in a holding pattern, some organizations are pivoting from content production to information gathering. It’s a smart move, given consumers are less likely to respond to being pitched on a product that doesn’t fulfill a basic quarantine need (health care, food, supplies, entertainment, etc.). In addition, conducting a survey generally is a low-cost effort that provides audiences with useful information while illustrating up-to-date knowledge of a given industry.

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No Fooling

by Sophie Maerowitz

As the nation braces for what is likely to be a grim several weeks, social media feeds are intentionally devoid of the usual April Fools' Day wit. Google CMO Lorraine Twohill sent an internal email warning staffers not to joke around this year and encouraging managers to “suss out” any such efforts, despite Google’s two-decade reputation for internet-wide pranks, Business Insider and Lifewire report.

In the world of social good initiatives, T-Mobile, forgoing its usual antics from impish now-former CEO John Legere, announced a #GiveThanksNotPranks effort donating a dollar to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for those that thank a healthcare worker or other helper on Twitter, use the hashtag and tag the brand (up to $200,000), as well as matching $5 gifts through a special text line, up to $300,000.

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DC Mayor, UNH, Ryan Reynolds Cleverly Cut Through Clutter 

by Seth Arenstein

With so many brands and organizations over-communicating, there’s more noise than usual. Cutting through is that much harder. So, props to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson who snail-mailed a 500-word letter to 30 million British households with a straightforward message: Please stay home (see March 30 update below).

The letter obviates the chance that Brits might miss his message on social (or that they skipped a TV news conference to stream “Tiger King”).

Another politico communicating low-tech but effectively is Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser. This morning, District residents and non-residents who work in D.C. received a pre-recorded phone call from the Democrat. On the recording, Bowser urges the recipient to stay home, stating that those gathering on D.C. streets in large numbers could get hit with costly fines. It’s a clever pivot. Initially, D.C. police were patrolling streets as squad cars played a recording covering the same ground. (Problem was, the recording was inaudible.)