What We’re Reading – April 2022


What We’re Reading is a monthly roundup of current news, commentary, challenges and trends that impact our industry as well as those of our clients. From Netflix’s major loss of subscribers to Amazon’s racial audit to the shutdown of CNN+, here’s a look at the news that stood out to our team in April. 


Yes, Investing in ESG Pays Off – Andrew Winston and Paul Polman, Harvard Business Review

“Publicly traded and private companies of all sizes spanning all industries are increasingly asking: why should we be making ESG investments? What is the ROI? These questions are understandable, but the reality is that the companies that don’t prioritize ESG are missing out on valuable financial, reputational, internal and environmental benefits. Just look at the influx of money into ESG-focused investment funds (more than $1 trillion in the last two years). This article does a terrific job providing five reasons how investing in ESG pays off and provides some tips for companies to do so.” – Michael Grimm


Netflix shares drop 23% after it loses 200K subscribers – Michael Liedtke, AP News

“Netflix’s stock took a considerable hit this past week with the streaming conglomerate reporting a loss of over 200K subscribers, its first in more than a decade. The subscriber loss, leading to a dip in stock price and the crackdown on password sharing, has left a bad taste in the mouth of Netflix’s loyal subscribers. Although Netflix will continue to produce quality programming, if the company can’t repair its relationship with customers and differentiate itself from competition, it will be an uphill battle to maintain its long-standing position as the top streaming service in the industry.” – Alex Engel

Nearly One in Five Firms Plan to Take No Stand on Russian War – Matthew Boyle, Bloomberg

“Although almost one in five companies don’t plan to take a stand on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, choosing to stay silent is becoming less of an option as stakeholders increasingly expect corporate activism on hot-button issues. No matter how much corporations would like to stay neutral, staying truly neutral is becoming a whole lot harder – something Walt Disney Co. learned recently. That said, business leaders and communicators must have crisis response plans ready to kick into gear if and when they find themselves at the center of scrutiny stemming from their stances on a range of issues.” – Gene White

Spirit rejects JetBlue’s offer, saying it wants less lucrative deal with Frontier – Chris Isidore, CNN Business

“The ongoing back and forth between Spirit, JetBlue and Frontier has been fascinating to watch as each company tries to best position its rationale for a merger – or rejection of an offer – to the multitude of audiences involved. Through their public statements and letters to each other they are trying to ensure their narrative frames the ultimate combination that takes place whether through a friendly merger or a hostile bid, in an attempt to protect their reputations, and business plans, when the process is complete.” – Andrew Moyer


Amazon to Undergo Racial Audit, Led by Former AG Lynch – Saijel Kishan, Bloomberg

“Now more than ever – especially because of the pandemic – employees are re-evaluating their workplace and demanding more from their employers. While reluctant to initially comply, Amazon conducting this type of audit (along with other global brands) is at least a step in the right direction. However, simply publishing the results won’t be enough. Rather, Amazon needs to be ready to go the extra distance and effectively communicate with its employees not only the results, but areas it potentially has fallen short in and concrete actions the company plans to take to address any gaps.” – Brendan Griffith

What happened to Starbucks?  How a progressive company lost its way – Fast Company, Clint Rainey

“This article offers a fascinating deep-dive into Starbucks current employment and labor challenges. It also touches on several other relevant subjects, including corporate reputation and image, as well as corporate social responsibility. There are plenty of cautionary notes here for nearly every company struggling to maximize and balance recruitment, retention, stability and productivity. To start, it’s important to remember that competitive pay and benefits are important, but so too is taking a reasonable and informed approach to what is expected of your employees. If Starbucks doesn’t address this latter point, they can throw as much money at their employees as they want, and I still predict they’re going to keep facing unionization issues.” – Nick Kalm

Apple store in Atlanta is the first to file for union election – Kif Leswing, CNBC

“For years, big technology companies appeared to be nearly impervious to unions. However, as more retail- or warehouse-level employees push for unionization in response to growing inflation, the lasting impact of COVID-19 and other factors affecting employees, that is no longer the case. As this trend continues, it will be interesting to see if organization efforts are able to move up the ladder into corporate offices and how companies like Apple respond.” – RJ Bruce


How LinkedIn’s ‘career break’ feature could help normalize caregiving – Julianne McShane, The Washington Post

“In an effort to represent career breaks more positively, LinkedIn has added a new feature that enables users to classify gaps in their resume with 13 different types of career breaks. This is a great move by LinkedIn to help its global user base, including hiring managers, normalize time away from work –  something that had been frowned upon prior to the pandemic.” – Paige Borgman

CNN+ Is Shutting Down Just Weeks After It Launched – Sanjana Karanth, HuffPost

“CNN spent hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising and new hires to support the launch of CNN+, but the marketing here fell flat as the company failed to understand and capture the interests of its target audience. Consumers don’t want just another streaming service; they want more streaming options in one easy to access platform. It is not altogether surprising that the platform has failed, what is surprising is that it failed merely weeks after it began.” – Steph Carlson


Revolve ‘sincerely’ apologizes for Fyre Festival-like Coachella event – Francesca Bacardi, Page Six

“A lot of the lifestyle influencers I follow attended Revolve Festival – an event the same weekend as Coachella hosted by fashion retailer Revolve. Reports of long wait times for shuttles in the heat, people pushing and shoving to get into the event compromised thousands of individuals’ security and safety. This Page Six article includes Revolve’s public statement, apologizing and promising for improvements next time – however because this was an invite-only influencer event, the company felt the brunt of the backlash on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, where those with hundreds of thousands of followers explicitly shared their frustrations. With influencer marketing, a risk that brands take is that the opinion of a few micro/macro-influencers can really impact what others think – so with an event this scale, it’s important for brands to keep and build on those influential partnerships.” – Haley Hartmann


AP Style Updates: COVID-19 – Nicole Schuman, Andrew Byrd, PR News

“Did something ever really happen if the Associated Press doesn’t update their guidelines to address it? I don’t think so. I immediately bookmarked this helpful guide to the latest terminology guidelines from the AP related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, it’s a “pandemic” not a “global pandemic” or an “epidemic,” which refers to a specific regional event. Or, did you know “superspreader” is always one word?” – Fran Fyten