Honoring Juneteenth, revisiting racist brand origins, and addressing harassment during WFH

Here’s a roundup of the week’s crisis communication news for communicators.


Here are the top 10 tips and takeaways from the week ending June 19 taken from our Crisis Communications Daily newsletter. Be sure to subscribe here to get this daily roundup directly in your inbox.


How is your organization commemorating Juneteenth? The holiday that marks the end of slavery in the U.S. has taken on extra meaning this year. Here’s how many business leaders are approaching the day.

Uncle Ben joins Aunt Jemima as brands revisit potentially racist caricatures. The company that makes Uncle Ben’s rice said the move comes as part of its efforts to listen.

Fox Business wrote:

“As a global brand, we know we have a responsibility to take a stand in helping to put an end to racial bias and injustices,” Mars said in a statement. “As we listen to the voices of consumers, especially in the black community, and to the voices of our associates worldwide, we recognize that now is the right time to evolve the Uncle Ben’s brand, including its visual brand identity, which we will do.”

 Publix won’t budge on ban of pro-BLM apparel for employees. The grocery chain says that the attire goes against its policies around political speech.

NBC News reported:

In a statement sent to NBC News, Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said the company does not accept racism, but the uniform policy will hold. “At Publix, we reject racism and believe diversity makes our company — and our community — better,” Brous said. “Our focus remains on ensuring a welcoming work and shopping environment for all associates and customers. Our uniform policy does not permit non-Publix messaging on clothing or accessories.”

Develop a resource library on racial equality and diversity. By developing a trove of resources on the subject, you can help educate your workforce and drive positive outcomes. Here are some other ways you can engage the black community right now.

Anonymous email forum helps PAN navigate COVID-19 shutdown. How is your leadership trying to engage workers while remote teams work long hours to keep your business running? For Philip Nardone, a Ragan Hall of Fame honoree, an anonymous email system was a handy tool. Here’s more on how he responded to the crisis.

Don’t pause efforts to address workplace harassment. According to experts, WFH hasn’t stopped inappropriate communication in the workplace, but rather shifted to venues like WhatsApp where it can be harder for employers to track. Here are some ways to combat the problem in our “new normal.”

Address the negative assumptions behind uncomfortable questions. Tough media queries require a bit of translation to understand how your interviewer might incorrectly frame a problem or topic. For crisis communicators, it’s important to address the underlying assumptions. Here are some examples of how to change the narrative.

Github removes terms with links to slavery from its lexicon. The coding outfit hopes to address bias and systemic racism by removing terms like “master” and “slave” from the terminology it uses for its offerings.

Cnet reported:

In an email, a GitHub spokesperson confirmed that the site is changing the default branch name for new repositories away from “master,” and making it easier for users to choose their own default branch name for all new repositories created. They also said they are releasing guidance and tools for users who may choose to rename their default branch in existing repositories.

What crisis lessons can we take from BP, Uber and more? Here are some topline takeaways from crises of the recent past that can inform how we approach the new landscape.

Make sure your conversations about racial justice include diverse voices. When the Main Medical Association tried to hold a meeting to discuss racial disparity in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the call almost left out the voice of its sole African-American participant. When they made space for her to speak, everything changed.

The Sun Journal wrote:

[Dr. Samuela Manages] had another message to the predominantly white group representing 4,300 physicians, residents and medical students in one of the whitest states in the country. “We need to stop just putting out statements,” she told her colleagues. “We decry this, we decry that. You can’t just say stuff and not have actions to back it up.”

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