What We’re Reading – September 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 importance of B2B video marketing to social media’s impact on missing persons cases to tone deaf vaccine messaging, here’s a look at the news that stood out to our team in September: 


State Funds Drop Unilever After Ben & Jerry’s Israel Clash – Nick Kostov, The Wall Street Journal

“High-profile corporate social activism is a “full steam ahead” trend, cheered on by some large PR firms, activist investors and others. But, the often-untold reality is that it can sometimes come at a steep cost. The lesson here is: have a clearly-defined CSR strategy. Make it known and accessible internally and externally. Be sure everyone knows what you will and won’t do as a brand, and make sure your subsidiaries adhere to it too.” – Nick Kalm


Helping You Grow and Deepen Your Community Engagement – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

“Up until recently, LinkedIn only allowed individual users to publish long-form content on their personal profiles. As of September, company pages can do the same thing! They’ll reap all the same benefits of individuals publishing long-form content (opportunity to humanize the company, build credibility, establish themselves as thought leaders, amplify brand messaging) with the added perk of user insights and the ability to leverage paid to amplify the content to target audiences. As a self-proclaimed LinkedIn junkie, I was thrilled to see this capability become available to company profiles and am eager to see how organizations adjust their LinkedIn strategy to incorporate long-form content.” – Paige Borgman

Gabby Petito story boosted by social media, true-crime craze – Adriana Gomez Licon and Lindsay Whitehurst, AP News

“The power of social media is something that continually surprises me – especially in this AP story describing its potential influence on a missing persons case. Grabbing the attention of millions, the tragic story of Gabby Petito continues to fill newsfeeds as users collaborate with one another to offer authorities potential clues based on TikTok and Instagram footage from other travelers that might have unknowingly crossed paths with the young couple. This case has really illustrated the sheer power of social media and the influence it has on the narrative and level of awareness surrounding certain issues.” – Haley Hartmann


Starbucks Faces Rare Union Challenge in Upstate New York – Heather Haddon, The Wall Street Journal

“With a company the size of Starbucks, it’s interesting that this is one of the first attempts by the company’s workers to unionize. However, it is not necessarily surprising to see this happening now, as the last year-plus of COVID has created overwhelming distrust of employers by employees and driven employees to truly re-evaluate and assess their current working conditions – factors that create an environment ripe for unions to swoop in. Starbucks should  be considering a variety of creative tactics from an internal/employee communications perspective to try and engage their local workers and mitigate this issue from spreading throughout their system.” – Brendan Griffith


How to unlock the value of your next B2B video marketing campaign – Azadeh Williams, Marketing Magazine

“This article is one of many that have come out over the year stressing the importance of video marketing. What struck me as particularly interesting here is their emphasis on video for B2B marketing. Personally, I always imagine making content for individual consumers as I tend to think that corporations aren’t as influenced by advertising. But in reality, corporations are made up of individuals, and if the right person sees your content, it can lead to large scale change.” – Fred Walls


No More Apologies: Inside Facebook’s Push to Defend Its Image – Ryan Mac and Sheera Frenkel, The New York Times

“Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg approved a plan last month to use Facebook’s News Feed to promote positive news coverage of the social media platform in an effort to improve its image. The initiative comes after the social network responds to a series of internal scandals that have plagued the company’s reputation. It’s also a notable shift from Facebook’s infamous crisis communications playbook of merely apologizing and vowing to do better. ‘They’re realizing that no one else is going to come to their defense, so they need to do it and say it themselves,’ said Katie Harbath, a former Facebook public policy director who was interviewed by the Times.” – Gene White

United Airlines fined $1.9 million for long ground delays – AP Business News

“This is the most recent issue to come out regarding a major airline. With thousands of passengers trapped in planes on the ground for several hours, United Airlines has been issued the largest fine imposed by The U.S. Transportation Department. Federal rules require airlines to give passengers a chance to return to the terminal if a plane on a domestic flight sits on the ground for at least three hours. This is a good example of how important it is for companies and airlines to effectively communicate to their customers and employees when certain situations like this arise.” – Alex Engel

Funeral home’ ad spreads message for the unvaccinated – Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN

“I thought this article perfectly captured the idea that the way a message is delivered can often be just as important as the content of the message. While this tactic was, admittedly, morbid, the mobile billboard certainly grabbed the attention of people in Charlotte and motivated them to act more effectively than some of the more traditional messages advocating vaccinations.” – RJ Bruce


New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate – Rebecca Falconer, Axios

“This article touches on so many current, hot button issues (vaccine mandate, New York politics, worker shortages…) but what stood out to me was what a great example this is of clear and proactive communications in the face of an escalating or potential crisis. Governor Hochul is getting in front of an issue that may, or may not, occur, and is being direct and transparent with her key stakeholders (in this case residents of New York) about what is happening, why it is and how she will respond.”- Andrew Moyer