What We’re Reading – September ‘22


We are back with What We’re Reading this month – a monthly roundup of current news, commentary, challenges and trends that impact our industry as well as those of our clients. From coverage of the Queen’s passing to the increase in strikes as a tool in the labor movement, here’s a look at what stood out to our team in September.


Queen’s death triggers media bonanza in works for decades – David Bauder, AP News

“As someone who has been involved with media operations at major sporting events – from the NFL to the PGA – I am in awe of the media management these past couple of weeks as the world covered the Queen’s passing. The credentialing process, security operation, communication system and line of command are all being put to the ultimate test. It provides an insightful lesson for public relations professionals.” – Amy Littleton

Iran’s Ferocious Dissent – David Leonhardt, The New York Times

“For the past week or so, I’ve been reading about the great unrest and protests happening across Iran. This New York Times article provides an excellent overview, but it’s worth exploring deeper, as well. I can only imagine the animosity that many in Iran are feeling from a lack of freedom of expression and communication (the country remains without internet access since the government shut it down last week). In this country, we have a great privilege to use words to share opinions without risk of jail or worse, and I ask that you consider the challenges happening across the world and learn more.” – Frances Fyten


Toy companies are scrambling to get hot on social media – Jennifer A. Kingson, Axios

“Not only does this article highlight how important it is for businesses to be on the forefront of social media trends, but it also shows how social media strategy must continue to evolve. Brands need to create content that can become self-sustaining on platforms like TikTok and Instagram in order to rise above their competitors. However, those strategies must be carefully considered and vetted before launch. Once something becomes a trend on social media, it moves beyond what the brand can control, and could potentially do more harm than good for the company’s reputation.” – RJ Bruce

How the investigation of Adnan Syed became a podcast phenomenon – Elizabeth Blair, NPR News

“Many of us were completely captivated by the first season of the podcast Serial when it aired in 2014. Now that Adnan Syed, the subject of the first season of Serial has been exonerated of his murder charge, we should be curious about what the power of podcasts could be in the future. Since the time of Serial, more and more true-crime podcasts have emerged, and it seems like just about every other celebrity, news outlet and news anchor have their own podcasts, too. As podcasting continues to grow as an influential news source, it will be interesting to see how many other series inspire such newsworthy and culturally significant outcomes as Serial has.” – Kellie Clock

Can You Use AI-Generated Art in Your Digital Marketing and Content Efforts?Andrew Hutchinson, Social Media Today

“AI has the ability to create stunning works of art, but does this mean we can use that art in our marketing and branding efforts? Unfortunately (or fortunately), not yet. Not because the art is inferior, but because of the legal risks associated with using images generated or inspired by things that already exist. Until AI can create 100% original images, there’s too much risk of copyright for any brand to safely use it for multimedia content generation.” – Fred Walls


More Workers Are Going On Strike – Kris Maher, The Wall Street Journal

“For many years, union strikes were an often-threatened but rarely-deployed negotiating tool, but that may be changing.  Several factors are driving the shift. Unions have perhaps their greatest friend ever in the White House and enjoy the highest levels of public support in 57 years. Employers are still struggling to find workers, and persistent high inflation is being used to demand and strike over larger wage increases than in years past.

To address this, among other things, employers must ensure their employees and other stakeholders understand the organization’s financial realities, approach negotiations with the understanding that they aren’t playing the strong hand they once were and seriously plan for the likelihood (vs. possibility) of a strike even before negotiations begin.” – Nick Kalm

The labor movement isn’t just about wages anymore, says U.S. Labor Secretary – Clint Rainey, Fast Company

“This article explores how the labor movement has transitioned from focusing on fair wages to working conditions – especially how union workers are treated on the job. This movement matches what we’re seeing nationally across businesses. More employees want to work for companies that treat them well and aren’t afraid to quit their jobs to find a better fit. As more Gen Z employees, who have seen the workplace transformation accelerated by the COVID pandemic, step into the role of union leaders, they are determined to ensure a fair workplace for all or work elsewhere.” – Kate Grodsky


How Biden’s declaring the pandemic ‘over’ complicates efforts to fight COVID – Becky Sulivan and Rob Stein, NPR

“President Biden has recently been quoted saying ‘we still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over.’ This comes at a time when updated boosters are available and at the same time many Americans are still getting sick and losing their lives to the virus. By declaring the pandemic ‘over,’ the President has contradicted public health officials, the CDC, and the World Health Organization. Coordinated communications are essential to any crisis big and small. When different players are giving different information, it can cause confusion and misunderstandings that could easily be avoided by having a unified message.” – Annie Allred

Billionaire No More: Patagonia Founder Gives Away the Company – David Gelles, The New York Times

“As much as Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia have long been associated with philanthropy, environmental causes and taking stands on important issues, this decision to ‘give away the company’ still managed to be an incredibly surprising announcement. And it was uniquely Patagonia/Chouinard. Other companies can, and should, look to industry leaders for ideas but their actions must remain true to who they are as an organization. This commitment to leading by doing good was built up over 50 years of actions not just words – as a result the coverage of this announcement was absent of any second guessing about ulterior motives. The lesson here is find a cause that aligns with your organization and put in the time and work to demonstrate that commitment year over year before trying to get ‘credit’ for a big announcement or commitment.” – Andrew Moyer


Cyberattack on Optus Potentially Exposes Millions of Customer Accounts – Alice Uribe, The Wall Street Journal

“The old crisis saying of ‘it’s not if it happens, but when’ is a given. What isn’t a given is how companies respond. Far too often, companies feel the urge to publicly respond and communicate information that they may not yet know or be able to accurately articulate. Sometimes in a crisis – as was the case with Optus – sharing what you know, but still being transparent that more details are yet to come (or yet to be determined), shows a commitment to ‘getting things right’ during a time when missteps and miscommunication are hyper-analyzed.” – Brendan Griffith


Remote workers are wasting their time proving they’re actually working – Rani Molla, Vox

“After reading this article, I’m exhausted thinking about the amount of extra time individuals may spend proving themselves while working remote – or as termed here, “productivity theater.” Moving your computer mouse to ensure your status is green on Teams, working early/late to show commitment to your role or messaging in a Teams chat just to ensure your teammates know you’re online sounds like the exact opposite of productive. I’m thankful that at RP, there’s that level of trust amongst our teammates knowing client work is moving forward, deadlines are being met, etc., demonstrating our hybrid work model is effective.” – Haley Hartmann