Zoom chief focuses on winning back trust, Hobby Lobby closes and furloughs most employees, and Apple makes COVID-19 face shields

Also: Ad budgets face bigger decrease than during 2008’s recession, Berlin Cameron helps small businesses, Etsy encourages sellers to make fabric masks, and more.

Good morning, communicators:

Agency Berlin Cameron launched an effort to help small business owners struggling to stay afloat during the current crisis. It’s team is providing answers and advice through its #TakingCareOfSmallBusinesses initiative on Instagram:


How can you share your skills and expertise to help those struggling with their crisis responses?

 Here are today’s top stories:

Zoom chief exec: ‘I really messed up’

Following backlash over data sharing and privacy concerns, Zoom has been scrambling to fix its default settings to regain consumer trust and stop “Zoombombing” incidents. Some organizations, including Tesla, SpaceX the New York City Department of Education, have already banned the videoconferencing platform.

In a blog post, the company’s founder and chief executive, Eric S. Yuan, wrote:

[We] did not design the product with the foresight that, in a matter of weeks, every person in the world would suddenly be working, studying and socializing from home. We now have a much broader set of users who are utilizing our product in a myriad of unexpected ways, presenting us with challenges we did not anticipate when the platform was conceived.

 The Wall Street Journal reported:

“‘If we mess up again, it’s done,’ I thought a lot last night,” [Yuan] told The Wall Street Journal in an interview Friday, after what he said was a sleepless night.

Among the privacy features Mr. Yuan now promises is an option for end-to-end encryption to safeguard conversations, he told the Journal. Zoom had previously advertised such a feature, but security experts discovered the underlying technology provided a lesser level of data protection. The full-encryption feature won’t be ready for a few months, Mr. Yuan said.

… “I really messed up as CEO, and we need to win their trust back. This kind of thing shouldn’t have happened,” he said.

Why it’s important: The pandemic has sped up what is an already fast 24-7 news cycle, which doesn’t leave communicators much time to make decisions and respond. However, an ounce of crisis planning is worth more than a pound of apologies: Prepare early, and as you continue to respond during this crisis, weigh your responses with potential repercussions.


Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice to wear cloth face masks, Etsy’s chief executive, Josh Silverman, told the platfom’s sellers to consider making the masks—provided they don’t make any health or medical claims and follow Etsy’s policies.

In a blog post titled, “Mobilizing our Community in Times of Need,” Silverman wrote, in part:

We believe that the Etsy community is uniquely positioned to address this crucial need during a global health crisis. We hope that increasing the availability of fabric, non-medical grade face masks from Etsy sellers will allow more medical and surgical masks to reach the people who need them most: frontline healthcare workers.*

Our mission to Keep Commerce Human has never felt so powerful or so relevant. I’ve always believed that how you respond in moments of crisis defines who you are. This is an unprecedented moment in time that will undoubtedly shape who we are as a society. It’s a moment for the Etsy community to band together, to do something important–something that serves a public good and will benefit the world as a whole. And I have no doubt that our community will rise to this challenge.

The directive is part of several efforts Etsy is making to support its community of small businesses as well as encourage them to act on initiatives that can help during the pandemic.

Along with your organization’s own efforts and donations toward slowing COVID-19’s spread, consider ways you can assemble and motivate your community. This doesn’t have to be a fundraiser. Instead, recruit skills and knowledge and direct them in ways they can provide relief. The more you can work alongside your community to offer solutions, the more loyal brand advocates you’ll gain.


Our Twitter #RaganChat is back!

We’re bringing the Ragan community together for a Twitter chat on Tuesday, April 7 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. We’ll discuss  helpful tips and tools to help make working from home a smoother process. Join us under the hashtag #RaganChat to share how you’re adapting to a new daily routine.


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.

Apple promises 1 million face shields each week

The tech company is producing much-needed face shields for front-line health care workers, and its chief executive, Tim Cook, said its first shipment had “very positive” feedback from the Kaiser hospital staff in Santa Clara Valley, California.

In a video posted to Twitter, Cook said the company has already sourced more than 20 million masks and plans to ship more than 1 million face shields each week to organizations that need them:

Why it matters: In his video, Cook said the company’s “focus is on unique ways Apple can help.” Follow his lead and tailor your messages to how you’re helping both your audience members and your communities at large during this crisis.


The Interactive Advertising Bureau released a report detailing the decline of advertising budgets following the COVID-19 outbreak—and 74% of respondents said the pandemic will have a bigger affect on advertising than the 2008 financial crisis.

Image courtesy of IAB.

IAB revealed that 70% of brand managers have already suspended or decreased their advertising budgets, while 16% are currently deciding next steps. Though both traditional and digital media budgets should increase in May and June, advertising spending on traditional channels is taking a harder hit:

Image courtesy of IAB.

Breaking it down further, brand managers reported the least budget changes to social media ads (a 33% decline in March and April, and a 23% decline in May and June) as well as paid search (a 30% decline in March and April, and a 21% decline in May and June).

Though ad budgets for traditional media channels have been lowered the most overall, traditional direct mail has remained more resilient: Brand managers have decreased budgets by 34% in March and April, and plan to decrease them by 29% in May and June:

Image courtesy of IAB.

No matter the media channel or platform, organizations that adopt messages focused on helping consumers and their communities are faring better, along with brand managers who alter their tone and hold off on a slew of promotions or product launches.


PR pros and business leaders are ready to start planning for the next stage in our COVID-19 response.

Here’s what many in the PR community are sharing with their stakeholders as many industries prepare for a longer period of lockdown than originally anticipated.


Hobby Lobby officially closed all of its locations after fighting stay-at-home edicts (and in some cases, prompting police department intervention).

In a press release announcing it was closing its locations at the close of business on April 3 and furloughing most of its employees, Hobby Lobby wrote:

We know our customers relied on us to provide essential products, including materials to make personal protective equipment, such as face masks, educational supplies for the countless parents who are now educating their children from home, and the thousands of small arts and crafts businesses who rely on us for supplies to make their products. Over the past several weeks, we implemented several best practices to provide a safer shopping environment, including the installation of physical barriers between customers and cashiers, enhanced cleaning, and the enforcement of social distancing measures. We are prepared to reopen our stores in a responsible way when the current situation improves, and look forward to welcoming our valued customers back to our stores. Until then, we pray for those affected by the virus, protection for the health care professionals caring for the sick, economic security for all impacted businesses and employees, and wisdom for our leaders.

Despite its insistence that it’s an essential business, Hobby Lobby’s Twitter profile hasn’t tweeted any COVID-19 related posts (or any posts, since March 22).

Though most communicators won’t buck health organizations’ advice nor government orders, don’t put yourself in the line of criticism by insisting your organization provides essential services or using the pandemic to provide PR spin. Instead, focus on how you’re helping alleviate consumers’ concerns.


When people can’t meet in person, photography has a special power in your communications.

Learn from Ragan Consulting Group’s Eileen Ryan how to use photography to emotional inspire your workers, colleagues and friends in her post about using photos in a time of social distancing.


We asked if you kicked off the weekend with a virtual happy hour, and half of you said you toasted to making it through another week of crisis communications, with nearly 17% doing so with colleagues. More than 33% of you said you were working through the weekend, however:

If you’re gearing up for another busy week leading up to the Easter holiday, we suggest making yourself a whipped coffee and spicing up your virtual meeting platform with a moving background from Giphy.


Where are you struggling the most in your crisis response efforts? Is it with keeping your workforce’s morale high and employees informed, or do you struggle with CSR and community outreach? Is lack of resources your stumbling block?

Weigh in below and under the #DailyScoop hashtag.


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