Disneyland characters vote to unionize, DOJ sues LiveNation alleging ‘monopolistic control’

Plus, a look at the data behind the highest-paid CEOs.

Greetings, comms pros! Let’s take a look at a few news stories from the past week and see what we can learn from them.

1 . Disneyland character performers vote to authorize unionization

Who knew Mickey Mouse was joining a union?

According to a report by CNN, 1,700 character-playing cast members at Disneyland cast a vote in approval of unionization last week. The performers voted to unionize under the Actor’s Equity Association.

“These workers are on the front lines of the Guest experience; they’re the human beings who create lifelong memories when your kids hug a character, or when your family watches a parade roll by the castle,” said Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle in a statement. “The next step will be to collaborate with them about improving health & safety, wages, benefits, working conditions and job security.”

Disneyland said it was too early to comment on the vote, but did say, “We respect that our cast members had the opportunity to have their voices heard.”

We touched on the basics of union comms a few months ago. When we outlined the steps companies need to take following a union vote, the very first thing that needs to happen is organizational recognition. Disney did that right away in this case, which is a positive sign. From there, you need to do whatever possible to demystify and unpack an arduous, confusing, and drawn-out negotiation process so stakeholders feel heard and informed. Keep your messaging aligned with your mission and values, and partner with legal to ensure that leaders and comms pros understand that comms between union representatives and employees are privileged and confidential per collective bargaining agreements.

2. Department of Justice sues LiveNation, Ticketmaster’s parent company, over alleged monopoly

Mad about those fees you paid on Ticketmaster at the last concert you went to because you didn’t have any other choice? That could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a lawsuit from the Department of Justice against LiveNation, Ticketmaster’s parent company, alleging monopolistic behavior.

According to NBC News:

The suit, filed in the Southern District of New York and backed by attorneys general for 29 states plus Washington, D.C., alleges that Live Nation has engaged in practices that harm the entire live entertainment industry — from artists and fans to venues and startups seeking to break into the business.

“Live Nation relies on unlawful, anticompetitive conduct to exercise its monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States at the cost of fans, artists, smaller promoters, and venue operators,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a news release. “The result is that fans pay more in fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters get squeezed out, and venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services. It is time to break up Live Nation.”

Aside from the government going after a major company, it’s also worth considering how this might work internally for LiveNation. If a spin-off or split does come to pass, comms pros at LiveNation should seek to help its employees feel confident in whatever is next for the company and its employees, regardless of what new iteration of it they end up in. This can include laying the groundwork to combat any potential leaks and leaning on managers to help smooth out the transition.

3. Lessons from data on the highest-paid CEOs

Effective companies often have effective leaders. And in some cases, those effective leaders have paychecks with a lot of zeros in them.

According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, executive pay soared to new heights in the last year, with many chief execs earning well into the seven and eight digits. In a recent piece for PR Daily, we took a similar but more career-focused profile of chief communications officers and what that role looks like.

But what does this mean for communicators?

Perception is huge in leadership comms. Even with wide pay gaps, creating a sense of humanity and reliability is a top priority when you’re making messaging for your leaders. You want your leaders to seem like they know what’s going on with every type of employee, not a far-removed figure in an ivory tower. A leadership comms strategy that focuses on empathy and understanding helps.

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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