WhatsApp limits forwarding to slow misinformation, SeaWorld CEO resigns, and measuring PR in a crisis

Also: Matthew McConaughey joins senior living facility’s bingo game, Disney offers virtual magic, CBS drama focuses on pandemic, and more.

Good morning, communicators:

Austin-area assisted living facility The Enclave at Round Rock Senior Living recently spiced up its bingo night with a special virtual guest: Matthew McConaughey.


The virtual session was completed through a video chat and shared on Facebook Live. It’s an excellent example of simple ways you can connect and uplift audiences during the crisis.

 Here are today’s top stories:

WhatsApp limits forwarding feature to slow misinformation

The Facebook-owned app announced it was limiting its forwarding feature, so messages could only be shared to one chat at a time. Along with a double-arrows icon placed on forwarded content, WhatsApp is hoping the action slows the spread of misinformation, especially related to COVID-19.

In a blog post, WhatsApp wrote:

As a private messaging service, we’ve taken several steps over the years to help keep conversations intimate. For example, we previously set limits on forwarded messages to constrain virality, which led to a 25% decrease in message forwards globally at the time.

Is all forwarding bad? Certainly not. We know many users forward helpful information, as well as funny videos, memes and reflections or prayers they find meaningful. In recent weeks, people have also used WhatsApp to organize public moments of support for frontline health workers. However, we’ve seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation. We believe it’s important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation.

The app is also working with both government organizations and NGOs, including the World Health Organization, to provide its users with advice and information during the pandemic.

Why it’s important: Misinformation is more than a nuisance during the pandemic—it can be harmful or even deadly. Along with sharing content from official sources and helping your employees and consumers to identify misinformation, also consider using influencers and your organization’s biggest advocates to further your messages through smaller or one-on-one conversations (which can increase trust).


 Disney is virtually offering its magic through #DisneyMagicMoments, a website housing content from Walt Disney Animation Studios, National Geographic, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Disney Parks.

The portal contains behind-the-scenes interviews, additional videos, information and entertainment such as Disneyland’s Dapper Dans:

Consider how you can digitalize your offerings and add ways for your audience to virtually take part in your organization’s products and services while they stay at home. You can build trust as well as raise people’s spirits with your efforts.


Looking for more insight on how to address the current global crisis and lead your organization into a strong recovery?

Join Ragan’s Crisis Leadership Board to network and brainstorm with peers, get the latest intelligence and research and start to strategize for the future of your organization.

Learn more about this exclusive membership here.


How are health organizations trying to engage audiences around COVID-19? What tactics are working?

PR Daily Editor Ted Kitterman caught up with Julia Fitzgerald, the chief marketing officer for the American Lung Association. Here are her takeaways from her organization’s response to the current crisis.

SeaWorld chief exec resigns after five months

Not even half a year into his position at the theme park, SeaWorld Entertainment’s former chief executive, Sergio Rivera, has resigned. USA Today reports that Rivera “cited his disagreement with the board of directors’ involvement in decision-making at the company, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.”

It’s the second chief in two years to step down from the company, and comes roughly a week after SeaWorld announced it was furloughing 90% of its employees.

Here’s what Marc Swanson, the company’s chief financial officer and treasurer, as well as interim chief executive, had to say:

“This is a unique and extraordinary period for our company, our industry, and the world,” Swanson said in a statement. “We have a long tenured and experienced leadership team that is focused on managing this business through this difficult time, resuming operations and welcoming our valued ambassadors and guests back as soon as possible.”

Why it matters: A solid footing during a crisis starts with your leadership: Make sure your executives, managers and board of directors are on the same page and are in lock step with their messaging. Once you have a unified front, relay information and updates often and with transparency to your employees.


Hill + Knowlton Strategies’ senior research director, Blaine Mackie, published a guide on measurement in a crisis, which focused on finding a longer-term approach to reputation management and redefining success.

“Companies should take a step back and consider how they can address the needs of their communities and demonstrate good corporate citizenship,” Mackie wrote. These moves can increase storytelling and media relations wins—even as branded news and pitches fall by the wayside as COVID-19 information continues to dominate headlines.

Here’s a visual funnel you can use as a guide to adjust your measurement strategies:

Image courtesy of Hill + Knowlton Strategies.

 How have your data gathering and analysis shifted during the pandemic? Share your thoughts under the #DailyScoop hashtag.


CBS’ drama series “All Rise” will remotely film its next episode using videoconferencing software such as WebEx, Zoom and FaceTime—and the storyline will center around the pandemic, including a character struggling with being a food delivery driver and others grappling with relationships while under self-quarantine.

The Verge reported:

The episode of the freshman courthouse drama based in Los Angeles will feature the characters dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place rules, and how the coronavirus pandemic affects the criminal justice system there.

“It’s a unique chance for our All Rise family to band together – in our different homes, even cities – to tell a story about resilience, justice and the power of community,” executive producer Greg Spottiswood said in a statement.

The move is a departure from other networks that are in production delays (and some of which have postponed or cancelled episodes about outbreaks). Though this tack might work with “All Rise,” we suggest you carefully consider your messages and content, so they don’t appear insensitive during the crisis.


We want to know how COVID-19 is affecting your campaigns, messaging and internal operations.

Please take our quick survey, and we will share the results with you once the data is collected. The data will help us analyze and offer guidance on how to approach the next phase of this crisis and other crises to come.

Take the survey here.


We asked where you’re struggling in your crisis response efforts as stay-at-home orders continue. Nearly 43% of you said finding the right tone and balance in your PR and marketing messages during the crisis is the biggest challenge, and almost 36% of you are looking for ways to help. Nearly 11% said the stumbling block comes with a lack of crisis response resources—and the same amount say employee communications is the most difficult.



 How has your schedule changed as you work from home?

Weigh in below and under the #DailyScoop hashtag. You can also join our Twitter #RaganChat for a discussion about work-from-home tips today at 3 p.m. Eastern time.


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