What We’re Reading – March 2021


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 Amazon’s union vote, to Cinnamon Toast Crunch’s surprise ingredient, to work-life balance, here’s a look at the news that stood out to our team in March: 


COVID-19’s misinformation wake-up call – Kim Hart, Axios

“The struggle with online misinformation is not new, but over the past year we’ve watched in near real-time how quickly inaccuracies and falsehoods can spread across social media and then out into the public. This article does a fantastic job detailing the challenges of misinformation around COVID-19 as well as the responses from social media companies, the health care industry and lawmakers in Washington D.C. 

I think one of the most important takeaways comes from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communications study that was mentioned in the article and shows the importance of creating factual and easy to understand content that’s optimized for sharing on social media. This is a critical tool for combating misinformation online. It also illustrates how important it is for organizations to ensure social media and creative teams aren’t siloed from broader communications efforts so, if and when misinformation spreads, responses can be rapidly developed, optimized and shared to decrease misperceptions.” – RJ Bruce

Few Facts, Millions Of Clicks: Fearmongering Vaccine Stories Go Viral Online – Miles Parks, NPR

“I found this article extremely interesting as we’ve seen that since the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the spread of misinformation has exponentially increased. As communicators, what role can we play in supporting the dissemination of accurate information? How has social media impacted the problem and what does this mean moving forward?” – Natalie Wanner


LinkedIn is adding ‘stay-at-home mom’ and more caretaker titles, as 2.3 million women leave the workforce – Maria Aspan, Yahoo! Finance (via Fortune)

“This article stuck out to me for a couple of reasons. The first being that enabling users to better explain/represent career gaps on their LinkedIn profile is a long overdue enhancement. Secondly, I’m very interested to see if the addition of caretaker titles heavily impacts how marketers view/use the channel. Are organizations that target caretaker audiences going to re-evaluate leveraging LinkedIn as a primary channel now that this enhanced targeting is available? Very much looking forward to following the platform’s audience data in the coming months to see how widely adopted the new titles are.” – Paige Borgman  

Instagram unveils new safety features to protect minors – Caitlin Yilek and Gisela Perez, CBS News

“Instagram helps to build strong and positive communities amongst its users, but safety is a risk that everyone – especially minors – must consider when engaging on any social media channel. This interview on “CBS This Morning” with Instagram’s Head of Global Public Policy Programs addresses what Instagram will be implementing via AI and new reporting tools to keep its teenage users safe on the app.” –  Haley Hartmann


It’s not just you — meetings really have spiraled out of control in the pandemic – Aki Ito, Business Insider

“I found this article interesting because it highlights some of the challenges that come with companies transitioning to an at-home work style. The things that we used to accomplish in person by shouting from one cubicle to the next have been funneled through digital mediums, causing some to feel overwhelmed. Additionally, being at home can make us lose touch with what our actual business hours are, leading us to spend more time working on nights and weekends. Working from home can be convenient, but I think it’s important we keep these things in mind in order to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal time.” – Fred Walls


Tesla Is Ordered to Rehire Worker, Make Musk Delete Tweet – Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg

“Companies have to be oh so careful when educating their employees about the consequences of unionization. While it’s perfectly okay to remind employees they would have to pay union dues if they vote a union in, Elon Musk crossed a line when his tweet indicated they could or would lose their stock options. That’s seen as a threat and a big “no no” in labor law. It’s not the first time Mr. Musk’s tweeting got him in trouble.” – Nick Kalm


9 Crisis Lessons From General Mills’ Response To Allegation Of Shrimp Tails In Cereal Box – Edward Segal, Forbes

“As a kid, Cinnamon Toast Crunch was at the top as one of my go-to choices for breakfast, so I was naturally drawn to this comically bad incident of shrimp tails appearing in a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Beyond being drawn by the nostalgia of thinking about one of those tasty bowls, the “PR” in me was curious to see the company’s issues and crisis management response and approach.

Interestingly, General Mills took a firm (paraphrasing, of course), “Without question, this wasn’t us!” stance. I can respect the level of confidence, as long as the proper investigation and internal reviews(s) were conducted. However, what I think will be interesting more broadly is seeing if the level of social media posts with videos or images of “Look what I found in X, Y or Z!” drastically increases in the weeks to come. Everyone likes ‘clicks’ and notoriety on social media, and after seeing the commentary (both serious and poking-fun) all over the internet, what better way for consumers to elevate their social media profile at the expense of a company having to deal with a high-profile crisis.

For all the companies out there that might have lost a little sleep after seeing what happened to General Mills, my baseline advice: start with developing or updating your crisis playbook/manual so you’re prepared for an incident like this. Otherwise, Edward Segal, who is great to follow around all-things crisis management, can offer some ‘free’ advice and lessons in his latest Forbes piece.” – Brendan Griffith

Why Are China’s Consumers Threatening to Boycott H&M and Other Brands? – Sui-Lee Wee and Keith Bradsher, The New York Times

“I’ve been following this story and will be interested to see how companies balance their commercial interests and supply chains with their brand image reputations – both domestically and within China. A second fascinating and interconnected story is a broader one of how governments around the world are deploying their communications tools to target brands for domestic political reasons. If international companies aren’t considering this area of reputational risk they should be, and they should be planning for how they would respond to the competing and complex challenges involved.” –  Andrew Moyer

Amazon’s no good, very bad PR week – George Anderson, RetailWire

“Amazon has had quite a week, and not a very good one. From reports of the company surveilling drivers to Twitter “shade” against Sen. Sanders and worse, Amazon needs to respond. Its reputation as an honorable employer is on the line. Or is it? Claims like this have surfaced before, and yet, Amazon has continued to grow. The author of this piece surfaces the question, and I ask a similar one here, how much negative press is too much for Amazon?” – Frances Fyten