News and Updates from 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian

Category: Insight

Nearly 1/5th of Wendy’s Locations in North America Have Been Hacked

wendys fast food public relations

Wendy’s issued a statement last week that 1,025 of their approximately 5,700 stores in their North American locations had financial information of their customers hacked, stealing credit and debit card numbers, names, expiration dates, and codes on the cards. The hack originated late in the fall of 2015. So far some of the customers’ cards have been used to make purchases at stores other than Wendy’s, such as gift cards and purchases of less than $100 at a time.

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Why Justin Timberlake Offered a Public Apology

Why Justin Timberlake Offered a Public Apology

These days it seems like every celebrity with a Twitter account learns the hard way just what “mob mentality” means. One errant or even presumed errant 140 character missive and it feels like the collective world has lost its mind in their hurry to grab their digital pitchforks and torches. The latest victim singed by this groupthink gone haywire—Justin Timberlake.

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Responding to Viral Customers to Benefit your Brand

viral

Today, customers have a stronger voice than ever thanks to the rise of social media. As more and more people adopt smartphones and grow accustomed to an always-connected lifestyle, responding quickly to consumers is critical for delivering exceptional customer care.

Consumers are getting tired of shopping the old-fashioned way, with more customers opting to buy things online than in-store. But, that’s not the only thing they’re doing more of online. Given the hectic pace of modern day life, consumers have had to adjust to new constraints on their time.

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Instagram Logo Re-Design: #Win, #Fail, or #Draw?

new instagram logo 5wpr ceo

In case you were unaware, Instagram recently re-designed their logo and app aesthetics. And boy, oh boy, did it make waves.

According to Ian Spalter, Instagram’s Head of Design, “…the Instagram icon and design was beginning to feel…not reflective of the community, and we thought we could make it better.” For better or worse, Instagram went for it.

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Frozen Food Recall Creates Consumer PR Problems

Frozen berries with frost

Listeria. Ask most folks what it is and what it does, and they would have a hard time explaining it. But ask them if they want it in their food, and they know full well it’s very bad. Just the mention of the word leads consumers to stop buying, much less consuming certain products. Now the outbreak scare extends to frozen food, some bought as far back as 2014.

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Priceline CEO ousted amid affair rumors

Priceline CEO - Crisis PR

Priceline CEO Darren Huston resigned last week after an investigation concluded he had, in fact, had an “improper relationship” with an employee. According to media reports, the findings concluded Huston “acted contrary to (Priceline’s) code of conduct and engaged in activities inconsistent with those expected of executives.

No other information about the nature of the relationships was released, but it’s clear Priceline will have some PR ground to make up in the coming weeks. While this is far from the worst thing that could happen to the company, anytime you mix illicit affairs with a change of leadership you can just about guarantee headlines.

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Rockefellers no longer oil barons: That’s A Tough PR Sell

Rockefellers

Any time you are a member of a club, and one of the founding members drops a very public hammer on that club, things get rough from a perspective. Accusations fly, and massive counter programming campaigns begin from various factions.

Such is the case with the Rockefeller family’s recent parting of the ways with Big Oil. The patriarch of the family, commonly thought of as one of the first American business tycoons, John D. Rockefeller, founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870.

Somewhere down the line, John’s progeny, who all benefited wildly from the fossil fuel industry, founded the Rockefeller Family Fund, a charity created to support environmental causes, economic justice and other related issues. Now that charity, run by Rockefeller’s direct family line, is pulling its assets out of oil companies, including major holdings in Exxon Mobil.

Fund representatives told CBS News, “While the global community works to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, it makes little sense — financially or ethically — to continue holding investments in these companies. There is no sane rationale for companies to continue to explore for new sources of hydrocarbons.”

That statement, even more than the funding transfer, rang out like a shot directly aimed at the oil industry. It was a personal statement. After all, Exxon was one of the companies spun off from Standard Oil when President Roosevelt went trust busting at the turn of the 20th Century.

That may have been enough to start a war of words between the representatives of the various parties involved, but the attacks didn’t end there.

“Evidence appears to suggest that the company worked since the 1980s to confuse the public about climate change’s march while simultaneously spending millions to fortify its own infrastructure against climate change’s destructive consequences and track new exploration opportunities as the Arctic’s ice receded,” spokesmen representing the fund said.

This is not the first time the family has confronted the oil industry head-on. Senator Jay Rockefeller once accused Exxon of directly funding climate change deniers.

Now the gloves are off. CBS News reported a response received from Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers: “It’s not surprising that they’re divesting from the company since they’re already funding a conspiracy against us.”

The “he said/she said” tactic was just the beginning of Exxon’s response. They have repeatedly argued the science on climate change is inconclusive, and now they are trying to paint the Rockefellers as climate extremists on a crusade against business.

How the public responds to this exchange depends both on preconceived ideas as well as which side does a better job of counter programming PR. Should be interesting to watch.

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Youth Football Facing New Scrutiny

youth football

It’s a constant controversy in today’s concussion-conscious environment: how young is too young for tackle football?

There are injuries, but even most doctors are fairly tolerant of the injuries kids sustain in what is, undeniably, a violent sport. While anti-football groups continue to challenge public opinion, the American Academy of Pediatrics proposed more adult supervision, not fewer youths playing tackle football.

Detractors argue this is more about than actual medical evidence. Football is an American obsession, they argue. From the NFL on down to pee-wee league, adults invest huge amounts of time and energy in this game. They love it, give it their time and their treasure, so it stands to reason they also give it their children.

Proponents counter, of course, we love it. Football teaches discipline, competition, fair play and how to both win and lose gracefully. More so, football encourages kids to push their boundaries, to excel where they think they cannot. and earn rewards for tasks previously thought impossible.

Football insiders – coaches and veteran players – credit youth football with a better appreciation for and understanding of the game. They argue kids who start to learn the game early are less likely to be injured than those who take it up late, in high school or as adults.

Detractors fire back, pointing out that younger kids are more vulnerable to injuries, particularly of the head and neck, which can have lifetime consequences. They point to startling statistics: 13 percent of all injuries are head or neck injuries, and 11 high school players died playing football last year. Of course, these stats don’t point out HOW the kids died, which is a point tacitly pointed out by youth football proponents. At least some of the kids suffered injuries due to heat stroke, which could happen during any athletic activity.

Anti-football crusaders aren’t buying that argument. They want pro-football factions to acknowledge the risk and take steps to restrict youth football activities. It’s an unpopular position at the moment, partly because of the universal regard for football and due to the unsuccessful PR campaigns pushed by the opposition.

One popular pro-football initiative, the Heads Up program, encouraged coaches and youth leagues to require “heads up” football camps, clinics and training for all players. This step mollified parental fears and put another layer of protection between youth leagues and disgruntled critics. So far, the detractors have found no way to crack that wall of public sentiment.

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Zuckerberg’s vaccine comments ignite a firestorm

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has never been shy about expressing his socio-political perspectives on . Recently, the FB CEO chose to sound off while taking his new daughter in for her first round of vaccinations.

While the post may have been meant to simply be the sort of Day In the Life picture just about everyone uploads to Facebook, the photo and caption: “Doctor’s visit – time for vaccines!” ignited a firestorm.

To date, nearly 100,000 comments piled up on the picture, most from anti-vaccine apologists hoping to show others (and science) the error of their ways.

One particularly harsh anti-vax crusader put it this way: “Injecting newborns and infants with disease and neurotoxins is disgusting… Shame on you…”

Of course, while it’s clear this poster neither understands vaccines nor the science supporting them, there’s no use trying to tell her that. Though many did try. Ad nauseum.

One man posted in support of Zuckerberg, thanking him for supporting vaccine science. “As someone with autism, as someone who is constantly watching good people put their own children at serious risk because of old, fraudulent fears of vaccines … thank you for being sensible.”

As for Zuckerberg, people who follow his page already knew his stance. “Vaccination is an important and timely topic. The science is completely clear: vaccinations work and are important for the health of everyone in our community,” Zuckerberg has previously written.

So, the world is clear on where he stands and free to agree or disagree with that stance. But what if you haven’t waded into that debate? How can you be sure your innocently intended social media post will not ignite a PR nightmare?

The answer is indicative of the new reality we all face in today’s digital age. Much of our lives are played out online, for better or worse. A quick missive meant for a select group of friends can be shared with others, drawing many more voices into the net. Suddenly, a simple comment meant for a specific audience becomes a billboard for anyone with a bone to pick.

The solution? Be cautious of what you post online. Always. Understand that, on the net, privacy is nonexistent. Don’t let your next interaction with the internet turn into an unexpected PR crisis.

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