What We’re Reading – November 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 the need for effective employee communications now more than ever to the Metaverse’s impact on remote work to Aaron Rodgers’ vaccine controversy, here’s a look at the news that stood out to our team in November.


Report Finds Steep Disconnect Between Internal Communication and Employees – Nicole Schuman, PR News

“The last two years of remote work have made communicating with employees even more challenging for managers and business executives, which is outlined in a great new survey from Axios HQ. Significantly, the study reported ‘nearly 70 percent of communicators think they know what updates and information employees need, but only 31 percent of employees think [updates are effective]’. What the survey found, and what we share with our clients, is that employees prefer jargon-free, concise communications that get to the heart of the message quickly and include the important messages repeatedly. That, and employees are frequently looking for opportunities for more direct, person-to-person feedback.” – Frances Fyten

The Worst of Both Worlds: Zooming from the Office – Emma Goldberg, The New York Times 

“Companies are wrestling with a future of return-to-work or hybrid work environments. How do they recreate the benefits of in-person work without losing the benefits of hybrid work? This article analyzes the challenges of the hybrid work grey zone with some colleagues in-person and others “Zooming” in. Companies who communicate expectations of a hybrid work environment transparently and fairly with their teams will fare better than those who set arbitrary return-to-office rules.” – Michael Grimm

Biden vaccine mandate legal battle heads to federal appeals court with GOP-appointed majority – Spencer Kimball, CNBC

“An already polarizing and complicated topic, President Biden’s vaccine mandate and the legal hiccups it is facing will only continue to cause confusion and obstacles for both employers and employees alike. As is the case with any new company initiative or policy – but especially surrounding potential vaccine mandates – the need for strong, succinct employee communications is paramount, and the ability for companies to adequately share information, explain their situation and the rationale behind it will determine the level of adherence from their most important audience: their people.” – Brendan Griffith


Activision CEO Bobby Kotick Knew For Years About Sexual-Misconduct Allegations At Videogame Giant  – Kirsten Grind, Ben Fritz and Sarah E. Needleman, The Wall Street Journal

“What is shocking here is not only the alleged behaviors which would have been inappropriate 40 years ago, but how little Activision seemed to do in anticipation of a media exposé that was months in the making.  When you know your practices are going to get slammed in the most prominent business daily in the country, you take meaningful steps to get ahead of it – concrete actions to eliminate any semblance of a “frat boy” culture, establishment and dissemination of codes of conduct/standards of behavior, third party reviews and more.  Not only did Activision not do that here, it appears they took a few tepid actions and largely tried to deflect the issue.” – Nick Kalm


Target will keep stores closed on Thanksgiving for good – Anne D’Innocenzio, AP

“Among other potential longer lasting impacts of the pandemic retailers are reevaluating what last year were originally one-time changes to their holiday shopping plans. Target, by making this announcement before too many other companies have, is able to claim a ‘first mover’ advantage and frame the decision not just as a good one operationally but also as made to benefit consumers. They will earn the reputational credit for leading instead of being lost in a sea of similar announcements.” – Andrew Moyer

Staples Center is changing its name to Crypto.com Arena – Greg Beacham, AP

“Rebranding can be a challenging exercise for any organization, but that process becomes increasingly more complex when dealing with buildings that are as iconic as the Staples Center (just ask any Chicagoan the name of the tallest building in our city). While Crypto.com likely sees this as an opportunity to elevate their brand beyond the tech-focused spaces they’ve existed in until now,  they face an uphill battle when it comes to the public becoming comfortable with the new name. A robust marketing and communications campaign that empathizes with those who may not be pleased with the name change while also leveraging a modest amount of self-deprecating humor will likely be the best way to help the public accept and use the new name going forward.” – RJ Bruce

Aaron Rodgers tests positive for COVID-19 – Olafimihan Oshin, The Hill

 “The Aaron Rodgers vaccine controversy is a great example of why misleading the media never works in your favor. When speaking about something you’re not sure of or when you would rather not answer a question, it’s better to be upfront and honest instead of dancing around the facts and giving a longwinded response.” – Haley Hartmann


Instagram Just Throwing Cash at Reels Creators at This Point – Brianna Provenzano, Gizmodo

 “It’s interesting to see how big of an impact social media truly has on our society today. Ten years ago, no one was making the type of money online that they can today. It’s also fascinating to see the dynamics between different platforms as they use and improve upon different feature such as the reel feature that started with Facebook and has been adapted by most social media platforms.” – Stephanie Carlson

The Future Of Work And Society In The Metaverse – Gary Fowler, Forbes

“I found this article to be interesting because the pandemic helped change the landscape of the workplace as we know it. The article discusses how the Metaverse will continue to evolve the remote work landscape, giving birth to new concepts/ideas. The article mentions that while Zoom and Slack helped productivity during the pandemic, the Metaverse will bring a whole new meaning to the way we communicate and work.” – Ruben Castro


The climate activists stealing Big Oil’s playbook – Sarah Wheaton, POLITICO 

“What started as an overheard conversation on a bus in Glasgow turned into a fascinating story about the European Climate Foundation’s communications arm – the Global Strategic Communications Council – an underground network of comms experts who have spent years spreading a simple message: climate change is real. The caveat? Anonymity was the key to their success. This story reveals the strategies, tactics and long-term commitments of an international push for change while highlighting the role of public relations in the fight against climate change.” – Gene White

How entertainment marketing helps drive purpose-driven campaigns – Erin Schmidt, AdAge

“More and more, we find that millennials prefer to support brands that aligns with their values. The trick is, they can smell authenticity (and the lack thereof) a mile away. This article discusses how brands make strategic partnerships in entertainment to align themselves with messages that their audiences care about in ‘authentic’ and entertaining ways.” – Fred Walls