Airbnb suspends marketing campaigns, Google cancels April Fools’ Day jokes, and WHO launches app with COVID-19 info

Also: Google pulls Infowars app for misinformation, Taco Bell to give free food during ‘Taco Tuesday,’  crisis communications are PR agency’s top sought-after skill, and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

To show its appreciation for people across the nation, Taco Bell is offering a free taco to each customer during its “Taco Tuesday” promotion. The free beef nacho cheese Doritos Loco Taco will be available March 31 to all drive-through customers:

The promotion has received mixed reactions on Twitter, with some complaining it doesn’t encourage people to #StayAtHome.

Here are today’s top stories:

Airbnb pauses marketing campaigns

The rental company has suspended its marketing efforts as its top executives take 50% salary cuts—and its founders will take no salary for six months. By hitting the pause button on marketing campaigns, Airbnb estimates it will save $800 million.

Reuters reported:

“Airbnb is resilient and built to withstand tough times and we’re doing all we can to strengthen our community and our company,” the company said in an email to Reuters, without elaborating.

Why it’s important: Though the travel, tourism and hospitality industries are experiencing especially difficult times in light of the current crisis, many organizations are scaling back their PR and marketing efforts to save money (especially if doing so can help stave off layoffs). Your messages should balance your organization’s need to do business with remaining sensitive to those battling COVID-19, including front-line workers helping to stop the disease’s spread.


READER CHALLENGE

We want to hear from you about your work-from-home setup. Do you work from your couch with your cat or dog snuggled next to you? Do you have a slick home office you want to share?

Send you pictures to our vice president of editorial, Roula Amire, at RoulaA@ragan.com and we will share the best submissions in the coming days.

You can also share your images to social media with the hashtag #RaganWFH.


TACTICALLY SPEAKING

The World Health Organization recently launched an app that gives users daily updates and public health emergency information. The app is available through Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store in English, Chinese, French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian.

Image courtesy of World Health Organization.

 WHO has partnered with WhatsApp to make COVID-19 answers more available as well:

WHO’s Twitter timeline is also full of retweetable images and videos that carry guidelines and information to further fight the spread of COVID-19.

Google removes Infowars app after COVID-19 misinformation

 The search giant banned the Infowars app from its Play Store, following a video posted by founder Alex Jones in which he argues against quarantine and social distancing efforts as a way of slowing COVID-19’s spread.

 Wired reported:

Google confirmed to WIRED that it removed the app on Friday. The app had more than 100,000 downloads according to Google Play’s published metrics, and was rated “E10+,” meaning safe for all users 10 and older. The Infowars app sold products like supplements and protein powder, broadcast The Alex Jones Show live, and posted videos and articles from Jones and others.

“Now more than ever, combating misinformation on the Play Store is a top priority for the team,” a Google spokesperson told WIRED. “When we find apps that violate Play policy by distributing misleading or harmful information, we remove them from the store.”

The decision comes roughly a year and a half after Apple removed Infowars from its App Store in August 2018. At that time, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify and Stitcher had banned Jones and his show from their platforms. In September 2018, Twitter followed suit and permanently banned Jones’ Infowars and personal accounts.

Why it matters: Fighting the spread of fake news and misinformation is every communciators’ responsibility, especially during a global pandemic. You can further support efforts such as these by helping your colleagues and industry peers share updates from reputable sources—and leading by example.


MEASURED THOUGHTS

 Provoke Media, ICCO and Stickybeak’s recent global industry survey revealed that almost 77% of PR agencies worldwide are bracing for additional earning losses from the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 62% in hiring freezes, roughly 37% enacting pay cuts and nearly 27% laying off employees:

Image courtesy of PRovoke Media.

 Though more than 33% of in-house PR teams aren’t seeking outside collaborations, nearly 28% said they’re turning to agency partners for corporate communications assistance and almost 27% are looking for crisis communications help. Almost 82% of PR agency respondents said crisis counsel is the biggest service their clients are seeking, followed by corporate communications (nearly 72%) and employee engagement (51%):

Image courtesy of PRovoke Media.

 Conversely, many in-house communications teams are cutting down on their branding and marketing campaigns—something PR agency pros say is the biggest area of client loss:

Image courtesy of PRovoke Media.

Whether you’re working for an organization or part of an agency team, crisis and corporate communications are crucial skills to hone.


CRISIS DAILY NEWSLETTER

Ragan Communications has launched a new daily newsletter to bring readers the latest headlines, tools and insights to help them manage their communications during the COVID-19 crisis and tough moments that may come long after the pandemic is over.

The newsletter will contain tips on:

  • Remote work and culture issues
  • Health care communications
  • Internal communications
  • Crisis response tips
  • Human resources best practices
  • Technology updates
  • External communication
  • And more

Sign up to get the daily eNewsletter directly in your inbox.

Google cancels its April Fools’ jokes

The company is pausing planned levitity for April 1 out of respect for those fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Verge reported:

According to an internal email obtained by Business Insider, Google will “take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let’s save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one.”

“We’ve already stopped any centralized April Fool’s efforts but realize there may be smaller projects within teams that we don’t know about,” the email from Google’s head of marketing Lorraine Twohill continues. “Please suss out those efforts and make sure your teams pause on any jokes they may have planned — internally or externally.”

Why you should care: The decision is already grabbing positive press as journalists advise PR and marketing pros to follow suit. “Like or loathe internet April Fools’ jokes, it’s hard to argue that Google’s decision here isn’t a wise one,” The Verge reported. Mashable reported: “Brands would be wise to read the room, follow Google’s lead and, cancel whatever April Fools’ pranks they had in store.”

Don’t think you’re the exception to this advice: Postpone the pranks you had planned for Wednesday’s holiday.


WHAT YOU SAID

 We asked what you were planning over the weekend to boost your health and spirits while staying indoors, and 38% of you said you were embracing at-home workouts. Nearly 34% said binging TV shows and movies were on the agenda, with nearly 16% getting in reading and sleeping. Almost 13% said you toasted with virtual happy hours:

Agency ARPR said they do a mix of all the activities and are introducing a virtual happy hour to their employees:

Lindsay Paulson, PR specialist for RDO Equipment, shared a picture of her exercise partner and says doughnuts bring a balance to running routines (we couldn’t agree more):

Marketing pro Mphete Kwetli did double duty by working out through yard chores:

Sharon Glenn, content manager at Flagship Facility Services, takes part of Friday virtual happy hours, birthday celebrations, pet introductions and more with her team:


SOUNDING BOARD

In light of the pandemic, do you think PR and marketing pros should cancel their April Fools’ campaigns?

Weigh in via our Twitter poll and share your thoughts with us under the #DailyScoop hashtag.

 

COMMENT

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