Also: Wendy’s celebrates ‘National Roast Day’ on Twitter, Barbie releases Ida B. Wells doll for MLK Day, and more.
Wendy’s celebrated National Roast Day on Wednesday, Jan. 12. The holiday was created by the brand in 2018 to roast, or crack good-natured jokes, about fans and other brand accounts on Twitter:
Drop the “roast me” below
Oh, and don’t forget to get free medium fries with purchase, in the app.
Gotta do something with all this salt.
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) January 12, 2022
Several brands got in on the fun:
You’re going to love our new pink straw. its an extra $2.50 #nationalroastday
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) January 12, 2022
You’re what parents give their kids to keep them from drinking. #NationalRoastDay
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) January 12, 2022
— Trung Phan (@TrungTPhan) January 12, 2022
Wendy’s cheeky brand voice and reputation for engaging in banter with other brands on Twitter started with its invention of this fake holiday, and five years later the brand keeps the tradition strong by demonstrating how personalized responses can drastically increase your audience engagement. By referencing its French fry promotion in the initial tweet, and calling for replies in the comments, Wendy’s also ensures that its marketing message will be seen by thousands.
This is also a reminder that Twitter loves holidays, so much that the company recently published a 2022 calendar designed to help social media professionals structure their Twitter campaigns and messaging efforts around larger cultural moments.
Here are today’s top stories:
Kroger hits back at grocery store workers on strike
Supermarket company Kroger responded to the decision of over 8,000 employees at the company’s King Soopers stores to strike. The workers walked out after negotiations broke down around pay and working conditions.
Kroger blamed striking employees for the impasse, singling out Kim Cordova, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers local chapter in Denver, in a press release.
“Local 7 is putting politics before people and preventing us from putting more money in our associates’ pockets,” said Joe Kelley, president of King Soopers and City Market. “It’s time for Kim Cordova to put our associates, her members, first instead of denying them the opportunity to vote on this unprecedented investment. Creating more disruption for our associates, their families, and Coloradans rather than negotiating for a peaceful resolution is irresponsible and undemocratic.”
The strike arrives amid a new Economic Roundtable study which reports that 44% of Kroger workers are unable to pay rent and 39% were unable to pay for groceries.
The living and working conditions of Kroger workers have declined markedly over the past 20 years. Kroger’s current low-wage, part-time workforce strategy relies on poorly-paid, part-time workers with constantly changing schedules.
Even though food surrounds Kroger grocery workers every hour on their job, over three-quarters of Kroger workers are food insecure, based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture food security assessment tool. These workers cannot afford balanced and healthy food. They run out of food before the end of the month, skip meals, and are hungry sometimes. Those with children report they go hungry to provide food and other essentials for their children. Kroger workers’ exceptionally high rate of food insecurity is seven times greater than the U.S. average.
Kroger contradicted the report with its own study, claiming the Economic Roundtable used bad data to arrive at its conclusions.
In a press release on Wednesday, Kroger called the report “misleading” and said it was based on “flawed data,” citing another ndp|analytics report commissioned by The Kroger Family of Companies. “Based on the organization’s actual data and official government data, our findings show the organization pays hourly associates higher wages and benefits compared to its peers in the overall retail industry,” the release said.
What it means:
The King Soopers strike occurs as grocery stores nationwide continue experiencing supply chain issues caused by omicron and winter storms in addition to labor shortages. To that end, Kroger’s statement arrives during an inflection point for the industry when other factors affecting grocery store operations undercut Kroger’s message.
Blaming employees for contributing to business operations problems is a difficult needle to thread in 2022, as working conditions and employee experience are a continued topic of national conversation. Particularly for organizations that spent the last couple of years celebrating frontline employees as heroes, management should be prepared to face tough questions about employees who struggle to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
Be sure that any data or research you deploy to refute claims made by your detractors is acquired by an impartial third party and be prepared to explain the methodology.
In a new study by Global Women in PR, 52% of women said they had experienced sexual harassment working in PR. Among that 52%, half said it the harassment took place in the office and 14% said they experienced sexual assault or attempted assault at work.
For those that experienced harassment, 68% said the behavior included making sexual comments about their appearance, clothing or body, 66% cited dirty jokes and sexual anecdotes and 40% reported inappropriate touching.
For an industry that has such a history of female representation and participation, the numbers are a sobering reminder of the work still to be done to create safe work environments for all.
Even during a time of flexible and remote working, it remains more crucial than ever to define and communicate boundaries around what can be considered healthy professional interactions. Ensure that your employees understand these boundaries by partnering with your HR and people teams to conduct sexual harassment training sessions, create confidential communication channels for employees to speak up when those boundaries are crossed, and consider crafting language that clearly defines those boundaries within your organization.
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Survey takers will receive an executive summary of the findings.
Mattel announced that the newest Barbie in its Inspiring Women series would be a tribute to activist, suffragist and journalist Ida B. Wells to mark the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Wells, an investigative journalist an educator born in 1862, rose to prominence for her work covering lynching of Blacks in the U.S.
#Barbie honors Ida B. Wells in the Inspiring Women series, spotlighting heroes who inspire us to dream big. Born into slavery, she was a journalist, activist & suffragist, telling the stories of injustices that Black people faced in her lifetime. At major retailers by 1/17. pic.twitter.com/hyXUqi3wpK
— Barbie (@Barbie) January 11, 2022
One Twitter user asked aloud where the profits off the doll were going and questioned whether the release was done in good faith:
Nice gesture to “inspire.” But how will you use this to benefit her descendents or the communities she advocated for (e.g. Memphis)? Plans to use profits for action rather than being a window dressing? “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” Ida B Wells
— M. Maya McDoom, PhD, MPH (@DrMcDoom) January 12, 2022
Barbie fans and brand advocates were quick to defend the release of the doll:
Since when did it become the Mattel company’s responsibility to do all of that simply because they are honoring her with a doll? What are government officials and residents of Memphis doing to honor her? What are her descendants doing to get her honored? And what are you doing?
— MLJohn (@MLJohn44) January 12, 2022
It appears so: “I am honored that Barbie has chosen to celebrate my great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells, as part of its Inspiring Women Series,” says Michelle Duster, author, public historian, and great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells in a statement.
— Nitanee (@nitanee23) January 12, 2022
The social media response to Mattel’s Ida B. Well’s Barbie emphasizes how your loyal brand followers can be deployed as advocates to mitigate a potential crisis from bubbling up when your integrity is called into question.
Announcing the PR Daily Leadership Network
PR Daily is launching the PR Daily Leadership Network, a unique membership group from Ragan Communications offering peer-to-peer advisory and team training along with a unique slate of resources and events to help public relations professionals break through the noise, increase their visibility and forge meaningful connections.
The Network provides daily insights and coverage on a range of topics including media relations, social media, measurement, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, branding, thought leadership and crisis communications.
“The fast pace of change coupled with the demand on public relations professionals to protect and sometimes defend their company’s reputation make it imperative for leaders to tap into the wisdom of other communicators and continue to learn and grow,” says Diane Schwartz, CEO of Ragan Communications. “The PR Daily Leadership Network provides the answers but also encourages members to question the status quo and push for positive change.”
Visit leadership.prdaily.com to learn more.
NPR reports on hosts of color departing the network
NPR published a lengthy story addressing the recent slew of high-profile departures that suggest hosts of color are uncomfortable remaining with the organization. Those departures included “Weekend Edition Sunday” host Lula Garcia Navarro (leaving for The New York Times), “Morning Edition” host Noel King (departing for Vox) and “All Things Considered” host Audie Cornish leaving for CNN’s new streaming service.
The story includes interviews with several NPR staffer, including CEO John Lansing. “Under NPR’s protocol for reporting on itself, no corporate official or news executive reviewed this story before it was posted publicly,” the report stated.
When it was time for Garcia-Navarro and King to renegotiate their contracts with the network, the talks became unexpectedly acrimonious. Each felt network officials adopted a sharp and dismissive tone, according to numerous colleagues.
Lansing says the acrimony over the contract negotiations pains him. “That goes against what I stand for,” Lansing says. He says in recent talks with NPR’s labor unions, he had directed company negotiators to make sure new contracts were a win for both sides. “Our people are all we have in terms of quality and credibility,” Lansing says. Starting now, Lansing says, he will personally review all host contracts before they are finalized.
“For a very long time, the way things worked at NPR was kind of arbitrary, based on how much you knew and who you knew,” says Sam Sanders, host of NPR’s It’s Been A Minute With Sam Sanders. “Things like pay and host pay operated under cover of darkness. You would get your deal based on your relationship with management.”
“If there’s going to be a true conversation about pay equity, it has to be about the entire company,” Sanders says. “NPR is more than its news division.”
Why it matters:
The topic of diverse employees departing NPR first began to trend when “All Things Considered” host Ari Shapiro tweeted about the network “hemorrhaging hosts from marginalized backgrounds.” NPR’s decision to report on its diversity and pay equity within its organization demonstrates a commitment to transparency and accountability that many organizations pledge when doing their own DE&I audits, but few follow through on. Though the commitment is built on a foundation of editorial values—from identifying the race of the employees being quoted as they are introduced to disclosing that executives did not review the story before it was published—it demonstrates that the organization considers its purpose and values in every aspect of its reporting.
Lansing’s words about the importance of NPR’s people being the last line of defense for quality and credibility emphasize how putting your employees first ties directly back to brand reputation. Sanders’ words about pay equity being considered companywide also highlight the need for a DE&I communications strategy that facilitates the progress and lessons of one team being implemented across the whole organization.