PR Roundup: Layoff Gone Viral, Edelman Trust Barometer, Hispanic Creatives

Cloudflare homepage. Cloudflare is an American content delivery network and DDoS mitigation company and the target of a video-recorded layoff.

This week's PR Roundup looks at what went wrong in a recent tech layoff, this year's findings in the Edelman Trust Barometer and how to work with Hispanic creators for brand communications.

Layoff Gone Viral

What happened: The calendar turned to a new year, and while the unemployment rate continues to read below average, the barrage of company layoffs doesn’t seem to be slowing down.  

This week, one disgruntled, now former-employee took her displeasure to social media, recording the actual layoff in real time and posting it to TikTok. Thousands of viewers have witnessed Brittany Pietsch, formerly of tech outfit Cloudflare, taking a video call with a human resources representative and director she had not worked with. The duo tells her she’s being let go for lagging performance, to which she counters with various data points of success and progress she’s made in the several months she’s been employed by the company. 

The Wall Street Journal acknowledged the video’s virality and even did a profile on Pietsch. Pietsch says she’s had no shortage in companies reaching out regarding employment opportunities since the post. 

Communication takeaways: Anne Marie Squeo, CEO & Founder of Proof Point Communications, says many companies are still struggling to strike the right level of transparency around layoffs and how to communicate to individuals impacted, the broader employee base and the interested public.

“Many senior leaders still think they can avoid acknowledging, and the Cloudflare case displayed that well,” Squeo says. “Her manager wasn't involved, no details were provided about why, and the company told reporters there were no layoffs when the CEO said 40 people were let go. Call them what you want, but something systemic happened even if it was an annual cut of lowest performers. It wasn't a one-off.”

Squeo says it shouldn’t be hard for companies to handle human resources issues correctly if they start with transparency and respect.

She offers these touchpoints for companies dealing with layoffs: 

  • Tell employees that they—or their role—is being cut, and list specific reasons.
  • Execute the layoffs with humanity and a reasonable severance package. 
  • Communicate the layoffs to the broader organization, acknowledging how many colleagues were notified, the reasons why and how the company is positioned for the future. 
  • Move on. 

“This is no time for long mea culpas, as some CEOs have done in recent years,” Squeo says. “A little is fine, but this is about the people who work or used to work in your organization, not you. What could be a one-day news story can turn into a three-day one.” 

Edelman Releases 2024 Trust Barometer

What happened: Edelman released its always-anticipated Trust Barometer (2024 addition) this past week. According to the agency, the report reveals “societal indicators” and trends of “trust among business, media, government and NGOs, which shape conversation and set the agenda for the year ahead.”

This year’s launch event took place during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The survey consists of interviews conducted in Nov. 2023, with 32,000 respondents in 28 countries. 

The results of this year’s survey show how the acknowledgement of rapid innovations in tech and healthcare, amongst other sectors, increases the risk of trust issues—which may lead to increased “political polarization” and “societal instability.”    

Main themes the report covers include: 

  • Decline of Authority
  • Innovation on Ballot
  • A Reset for Science Comms
  • Restoring Trust in Innovation

Communication takeaways: It’s become an annual requirement for communication professionals to review the Trust Barometer, which can reveal the temperature of the general public when it comes to various aspects of trust in industry. Innovation—something affecting almost every industry, including PR—seems to be on the minds of everyone, no matter what their position. Richard Edelman says it’s important for businesses to pay attention to this influx and consumer response. 

“Innovation is accelerating and should be a growth enabler, but it will be stymied if business doesn’t pay as much attention to acceptance as it does research and development,” says Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman. “More than two-thirds of our respondents who say innovation is poorly managed believe society is changing too quickly and not in ways that benefit ‘people like me’ (69 percent). The mass-class divide, the huge imbalance in trust between business and government and the infodemic have been the forces behind the decline in trust and polarization.”

Kirsty Graham, President, Global Practices and Sectors at Edelman, also noted the importance of trust and innovation when it comes to not just this year’s United States’ presidential election, but political races around the world. 

“Concern over the impacts of innovation and those driving it have led to greater suspicion of economic and political systems,” Graham says. “Institutions must work together to help address these concerns to allow a pathway for continued innovation and progress.”

Boden Report: How Brands Can Authentically Engage Hispanic Creators

What happened: BODEN Agency, a firm with a focus on PR and communications for the Hispanic audience, released a new report on how to work successfully with Hispanic creators. 

BODEN notes that the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) see the global influencer marketing spend “set to reach $32 billion by the end of 2024.”

The report highlights conversations with Hispanic content creators about representation and equity in compensation, creative freedom and tapping into diverse passion points, as well as best practices when creating a partnership.  

Communication takeaways: According to statistics from the Pew Research Center in 2021, Hispanics made up 19 percent of the U.S. population. That's one-in-five Americans who identify as Latinx. And 68 percent of the Latinx population speaks Spanish as a first language in the home. Brands are increasingly seeing the potential of connecting with this audience. 

BODEN President Sara Garibaldi says the agency released the report because her firm sees the importance of creating content specifically for this audience to experience.

"Brands are increasingly acknowledging the strategic imperative of capturing the Hispanic market through genuine connections with Hispanic creators,” Garibaldi says. “Recognizing the importance of increasing representation, ensuring equitable compensation, celebrating our culture, and delivering impactful campaigns is key to fostering authentic engagement and success in this dynamic landscape."

Nicole Schuman is senior editor for PRNEWS. Follow her @buffalogal.