Amazon to undertake major layoffs, Twitter scaling back ban on political ads

Happy New Year, comms pros! Let’s look at some stories from the past week and see what we can learn from them.

1. Amazon CEO teases massive layoffs in memo

One of the world’s tech titans is gearing up to let go of 18,000 employees, in yet another sign of tough economic times on the horizon. The move is set to impact multiple parts of the business, including Amazon Stores and the organization’s HR department.

CNN reports:

Amazon and other tech firms significantly ramped up hiring over the past couple of years as the pandemic shifted consumers’ habits toward e-commerce.

Now, many of these seemingly untouchable tech companies are experiencing whiplash and laying off thousands of workers as people return to pre-pandemic habits and macroeconomic conditions deteriorate.

(Amazon CEO Andy) Jassy, in his memo, said Amazon’s executives recently met to determine how to slim down the company and prioritize “what matters most to customers and the long-term health of our businesses.”

“This year’s review has been more difficult given the uncertain economy and that we’ve hired rapidly over the last several years,” he added.

With all the chatter of a looming recession, this is certainly an unwelcome development. However, communicators can learn from the fact that Jassy admitted that the company failed to properly gauge demand during the pandemic’s height, leading to potential over-hiring. Does it make the situation any better for those affected? No. But leadership should know when to admit their mistakes, and that’s an approach we can all encourage our leaders to do, too.

2. Twitter says it will relax ban on political advertising

It seems we can’t go a week without mentioning Elon Musk and Twitter in this roundup. This time, the platform has announced that it is rolling back its prohibitions on political ads.

The Associated Press reports:

The company tweeted late Tuesday that “we’re relaxing our ads policy for cause-based ads in the US.”

“We also plan to expand the political advertising we permit in the coming weeks,” the company said from its Twitter Safety account.

Twitter banned all political advertising in 2019, reacting to growing concern about misinformation spreading on social media.

At the time, then-CEO Jack Dorsey said that while internet ads are powerful and effective for commercial advertisers, “that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions.”

With anything Twitter-related these days, there’s going to be a lot to unpack. If you’re communicating corporate messages on Twitter, you will soon risk it being read alongside what is inevitably going to become a thread of political ads. Twitter has already become more relaxed with its content moderation policies, making more space for content from white supremacists along with other questionable actors, and this likely isn’t going to make it any more appealing to advertisers.

This is the latest reminder that your organization’s values will be associated with the values of the channels and platforms where your messaging lives. If you’re not certain those values align, it may be time to re-evaluate where you communicate with audiences.

3. Shopify cancels recurring meetings to gain back time

Do excessive meetings get on your nerves? Think that there’s a better way? Well, Shopify agrees with you! They’ve instituted a policy that cancels all recurring meetings with more than two people on them going forward for good in an effort to give employees their time back.

Bloomberg reports:

Big meetings of more than 50 people will get shoehorned into a six-hour window on Thursdays, with a limit of one a week. The company’s leaders will also encourage workers to decline other meetings, and remove themselves from large internal chat groups.

“The best thing founders can do is subtraction,” Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke, who co-founded the company, said in an emailed statement. “It’s much easier to add things than to remove things. If you say yes to a thing, you actually say no to every other thing you could have done with that period of time. As people add things, the set of things that can be done becomes smaller. Then, you end up with more and more people just maintaining the status quo.”

Who wouldn’t love to have some of their day back to accomplish the myriad tasks they have on their desk? Shopify’s forward-thinking policy acknowledges that it’s hard to do multiple things at once, and nearly impossible to do them well if you’re constantly bogged down in meetings or other tasks.

As communicators, we should try to be as efficient as we can in getting our internal messages across and allow our coworkers the proper time to get their jobs done by avoiding meeting bloat. One easy win: Ask yourself if something merits a meeting or if it can be effectively explored/discussed over email or other internal channels. This audit alone will likely free up some precious time on your calendar.

4. How about some good news?

Have a great weekend comms all-stars!

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.

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