Marriott, Norwegian Air and more announce layoffs; Target, other chains offer special hours for at-risk shoppers, and EU asks Netflix to slow streaming

Also: More than half of all employees are preparing for job cuts, a PR agency offers its wire service for free, the importance of executive communication, and more.

Good morning, PR pros:

If you’re struggling to communicate your crisis response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 3BL Media is offering the use of its newswire service for free.

In a blog post, the agency’s chief executive, Dave Armon, wrote:

3BL Media realizes that many organizations have not budgeted for communicating their response to COVID-19. We believe it is important to assist these purpose-driven organizations however we can to share their social impact work with a global audience.

Beginning March 16, 2020, 3BL Media will waive fees to use CSRwire for public service, non-commercial press releases that are contributing to the COVID-19 response. This program will remain in place until further notice.

You can learn more along with how to submit your press releases here.

Here are today’s top stories:

Marriott, Norwegian Air and more announce layoffs

As organizations across industries are struggling to stay afloat as the COVID-19 outbreak grows, hundreds of thousands of employees have been laid off or furloughed. CNBC reported that current jobless claims in the United States have risen to 281,000.

Marriott International said it is furloughing tens of thousands of its workers, some who will be laid off. Pebblebrook Hotel Trust cut 8,000 jobs and said it might have to cut an additional 2,000 positions. On Thursday, Norwegian Air announced it’s temporarily laying off up to half of its workforce (more than 7,000 employees) as it halts 4,000 of its flights. Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group cut 3,000 jobs on Wednesday—80% of its workforce.

Other organizations including Laura Ashley, MGM Resorts, Scandic Hotels, the Port of Los Angeles, General Motors and more have either terminated employees or are preparing for both temporary and permanent layoffs.

Why it’s important: Your employees are feeling the pressure of the mounting crisis, so do all you can to communicate with them as frequently and as transparently as possible. Focus your messages on empathy and concern for their wellbeing, regardless of whether or not you must deliver bad news.


Professional social network Fishbowl reported the number of conversations on the platform have tripled with employees working from home. Fishbowl also ran a survey asking its members if they believe the COVID-19 outbreak will result in layoffs within their organizations.

More than half of employees (54%) who responded said they do fear layoffs are coming within their organizations with advertising professionals weighing in as the most concerned (65% believe job cuts are in their future).

Image courtesy of Fishbowl Insights.

One of the ways you can combat these fears and increase employees’ trust and general wellbeing is put your leadership front and center to discuss the steps your organization is taking to protect your workforce.

As shown in this anonymous AT Kearney employee’s post, many workers want to see executives making sacrifices and outlining business continuity plans as the crisis expands:

Image courtesy of Fishbowl Insights.

How are you addressing COVID-19 crisis communications within your organization and with your employees? Share your thoughts and insights with us under the hashtag #DailyScoop.

Target, Whole Foods, Dollar General and more offer special hours

 Many grocery and retail chains including Target, Whole Foods, Dollar General, Walmart, Fairway Markets, Stop & Shop and more have announced dedicated hours for senior citizens and other consumers who are more vulnerable to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Why it matters: Catering your offerings to your consumers and community provides a much-needed service and can also boost your reputation. Consider how your organization can pitch in, and focus your messages on how you’re helping your communities.


How do the stages of grief from the Kübler-Ross model apply to crisis communications during our current crisis? As audiences go through life changes, from social distancing to lost jobs and income, reactions go through a predictable pathway.

Here’s how you can use these markers to help you understand how you can meet your audience where they are, and help them start to accept their circumstances so they can take necessary action.

EU asks Netflix to slow streaming

The European Union is asking the streaming service to reduce its streaming offerings from high definition to standard, so it reduces the strain on the internet. The discussion comes as more people are working from home (or under lockdown) and use of digital and streaming services has greatly increased.

European Commissioner Thierry Breton recently tweeted:

It’s not just Netflix that’s feeling the load of increased traffic and taxed servers.

CNN Business reported:

Facebook (FB) on Wednesday acknowledged that the effects of the pandemic are also stretching it to the limit.

In a call with reporters, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook’s services are facing “big surges” in usage as the coronavirus forces millions around the world to stay home.

Why you should care: Digital tools and platforms are essential for many communicators to continue working from home, but prepare both individually and as an organization for potential outages. This is also a good time to ensure your organization and employees are using cybersecurity best practices to ward off a data breach.


 Data shows that your CEO is the top person at your organization that people want to hear from in the current crisis. One easy way to get these busy leaders in front of your audience is with a Q&A.

Here’s how you can use the format to great effect with a few helpful tips.


 We asked who should run point in your COVID-19 crisis communications, and more than half of you (51%) said your organization’s chief executive should take the lead. Twenty-three percent say to put the chief communications or public affairs officer in charge, and 20% said to shine the spotlight on subject matter experts.


 What information do you seek in the midst of this growing crisis?

Weigh in via our Twitter poll and share your thoughts under our new hashtag #DailyScoop.

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