What We’re Reading – October 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 Great Resignation to Reddit’s new consumer report to the complex world of cryptocurrency, here’s a look at the news that stood out to our team in October.


The Great Resignation Is Accelerating – Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

“Much has already been written about the Great Resignation but the full implications of it are only beginning to be felt.  This article points to the need for HR executives and employee communications specialists to work harder to understand what’s going on in their employees’ heads and lives and develop new strategies to attract and retain them.” – Nick Kalm


Reddit Radar – The Rebalancing Act

“Reddit is testing out a new report called Reddit Radar – a monthly compilation of data from the app’s 100k+ communities highlighting key shifts in interest that might be applicable to brands and marketers. This first issue is titled, The Rebalancing Act – Pandemic Trends That Are Here To Stay and focuses on a lot of new lifestyle and purchasing habits users adopted during the early days of the pandemic and have every intention of maintaining post-pandemic. Reddit is always picking up on trends and cultural shifts before any other platform or news outlet so this could be a pretty insightful report to keep an eye on moving forward.” – Paige Borgman

I Used Facebook Without the Algorithm, and You Can Too – Brian Barrett, WIRED

“As someone who uses social media quite often, it’s not surprising to see the backlash that Facebook is currently facing. It isn’t difficult to see firsthand the problems in the site’s algorithms and what it chooses for each of its users to see or not. I found this article so interesting because it shows just how much the algorithm hides from Facebook users without them ever knowing.” – Stephanie Carlson


Facebook is planning to rebrand the company with a new name – Alex Heath, The Verge 

“Conveniently, in the wake of intense scrutiny from Congress, Facebook announced it is planning to rebrand as “Meta.” This is interesting because it is an apt example of an often-used marketing tactic to divert attention away from negative publicity by rebranding or introducing a new identity for the company. We’ve seen other companies like Google do this with the creation of Alphabet. It will be up to “Meta” and Mark Zuckerberg to prove that this switch wasn’t an obvious crisis communication strategy to divert from the crises plaguing Facebook, and that it backs it with real value for consumers and shareholders.”– Michael Grimes

Venmo Crypto Wallet Draws Tons of Users and Some Rolling Eyes – Claire Ballentine and Olga Kharif, Bloomberg Wealth

“With the digital-currency craze showing no signs of slowing down, financial companies and services are feeling the pressure to boost their services. With the demand of digital coins/currency, it’s intriguing to think how essential this may become to businesses, along with acquiring and retaining customers, moving forward.” – Alex Engel

Boeing Deals With New Dreamliner Defect Amid Production Problems – Andrew Tangel, The Wall Street Journal

“When Boeing announced this month that titanium parts on its 787 Dreamliner were improperly manufactured over the past three years, the snag provided the latest blow to the company reeling from two fatal 2019 crashes involving its 737 Max aircraft – which uncovered a lack of regulatory transparency and oversight in its manufacturing process. While Boeing remains a dominant force in the aviation business, the company must continue working through current growing pains by improving production standards and its culture around safety to fully reinstate its trust among consumers and regulators.” – Gene White

Netflix co-CEO on Dave Chappelle fallout: I screwed up – Jordan Valinsky, CNN

“The first step to rebuilding a tarnished reputation is to acknowledge what went wrong. After several internal and external communications flubs around Netflix employee backlash to the Dave Chappelle special that premiered earlier this month, co-CEO Ted Sarandos is moving in the right direction by acknowledging the feelings of the employees who were hurt by some of the content within the special. This situation should serve as reminder for other organizations to always lead with empathy when navigating a difficult situation. Had Netflix done that from the beginning, they may have been able to lessen the blow to their reputation and avoided a very public employee walkout.” – RJ Bruce


Filing show Sweetgreen isn’t profitable, despite claims – Dan Primack, Axios

“Here is a statement you never want to be associated with ‘the company lied’. All companies try to make their financial results look as good as possible – especially leading up to an IPO – but that tendency should never cross the line into factual misrepresentations. Whether or not Sweetgreen has technically run afoul of any financial or regulatory issues is only half the problem. Now, going into an event that should be a chance to showcase a positive growth story and exciting plans for the future, they will instead be answering questions related to their ethics and transparency causing potential long term reputational harm to the brand.” – Andrew Moyer


PwC’s 2021 Annual Corporate Directors Survey

“PwC recently issued its annual national corporate directors survey. While the data is not necessarily surprising – boards of directors are slowly but surely gaining gender parity around the country – PwC did report a significant percentage of those surveyed (36%) still do not believe that ESG relates to company strategy and nearly 3/4ths (71%) of respondents believe that board diversity won’t solve itself. These stats continue to prove the value of this work. From a presentation perspective, I was also quite impressed with the readability of PwC’s report and the numerous visuals they incorporated to clearly call out significant findings for readers. I would’ve liked to see a video as an additional engagement tool within this site or a specific call to action, but overall, it was an engaging read and a tool from which I’ll be pulling findings in the future.” – Fran Fyten


In-n-out takes a stand on diner vaccination mandates – Jonathan Maze, Restaurant Business

“I’m fascinated by In-and-Out Burger’s very strong stance against customer vaccine mandates.  What will happen to their sales?  They will surely lose some customers but will gain others. Will they be pressured to back off this stance or will they hold firm?  Will other prominent companies follow suit? Regardless, it’s an excellent reminder that, no matter the conventional wisdom, it’s vital for communicators to remember that strongly-held divergent views exist about nearly every public policy issue that all must be fully considered in any communications strategy.” – Nick Kalm

Unsupported ‘sickout’ claims take flight amid Southwest woes – David Koenig and Ali Swenson, AP News

“As someone personally victimized by the Southwest saga, I agree when this article suggests there was also some misinformation. When my flight home was cancelled, the text message I received said it was due to air traffic control issues and bad weather. As someone enjoying Texas’s 90-degree weather, speculation set in. Southwest’s PR team should’ve predicted that the truth behind their thousands of flight cancellations would eventually come out and damage the company’s reputation and trust.” – Haley Hartmann