1. Media & Marketing

Amazon says it won’t test employees for marijuana, younger Americans identify as LGBT+, and the FTC cracks down on automatic subscriptions

Also: Budweiser buys a round for vaccinated Americans, Twitter unveils a weather subscription service, and AMC launches an investor benefits program.

Hello, communicators:

Brands have gone to great lengths encouraging Americans to get vaccinated, offering everything from free donuts and fries to rides and flights. Now, Anheuser-Busch is quite literally saying “hold my beer” by offering to buy a free round of Budweiser to all vaccinated Americans if the U.S. meets President Biden’s goal to have 70% of Americans receive their first vaccine dose by July 4.

“The company said in a news release that if the US reaches that goal, ‘Anheuser-Busch will buy America’s next round of beer, seltzer, non-alcoholic beverage or other A-B product,’” reports CNN. “It instructs those 21 and up to upload a picture of themselves at their favorite bar or restaurant and enter to win.

“‘At Anheuser-Busch, we are committed to supporting the safe and strong recovery of our nation and being able to be together again at the places and with the people we have missed so much. This commitment includes encouraging Americans to get vaccinated, and we are excited to buy Americans 21+ a round of beer when we reach the White House goal,’ said Michel Doukeris, CEO of Anheuser-Busch.”

Twitter users had fun spreading the news around:

Considering that some of the beer company’s core customers are a demographic where vaccine messaging has failed to penetrate, Budweiser’s offer to buy around for the vaccinated stands out. This also serves as a reputational win for the alcohol brand which has not been traditionally known for health and wellness campaigns.

Here are today’s top stories:

Amazon explains new support for nationwide cannabis legalization

Amazon has announced that it will support the legalization of marijuana nationwide and no longer test job candidates for marijuana use. The new policy will not cover job candidates whose positions are regulated by the Department of Transportation, including delivery drivers and those operating heavy machinery. For those candidates, the company explained, it would treat marijuana use the same way it handles alcohol use.

NPR reports:

 “In the past, like many employers, we’ve disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use,” the company said in a blog post on Tuesday. “However, given where state laws are moving across the U.S., we’ve changed course.”

The company says its public policy team “will be actively supporting” the MORE Act—the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act—a move that adds momentum to legislation that was reintroduced in Congress on Friday. The MORE Act would remove marijuana from the list of drugs in the federal Controlled Substances Act, making its status similar to alcohol and tobacco. It would also tax cannabis products, directing some of that money toward investments in communities that have been harmed by marijuana’s criminalization.

“We hope that other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law,” Amazon said in a statement about its support for legal marijuana.

Cannabis advocacy groups signaled their support for Amazon’s decision as a harbinger of changing attitudes about marijuana legalization:

Others took the opportunity to crack a joke:

Why it matters:

Amazon’s substantial influence on public policy aside, the company’s acknowledgment of how its new policies regarding cannabis will make jobs easier for its hiring teams and employee well-being reflect a genuine consideration for its workforce. Amazon’s acknowledgment of drug laws  in its home state of Washington serves as a reminder that you should communicate messaging around your corporate policy and community engagement through a hyperlocal lens. Highlighting local laws and regulations can make even the largest company seem small by showing stakeholders that it is mindful of its relationship to the community and focused on being a good neighbor.


MEASURED THOUGHTS

recent study from Gallup found that 5.6% of Americans identify as LGBTQ, up from 4.5% in 2017, while 9.1% of millennials and 16% of Gen Z identify as LGBT. This means that consumer behaviors are changing and younger people see themselves on the LGTBQ continuum in larger numbers.

Courtesy of Gallup

As younger generations increasingly self-identify as LGBTQI+, take note that your messaging and marketing campaigns to the LGBTQI+ community should not only be shared during Pride Month, nor should they stop at sharing general platitudes of support decked out with rainbow flags. In an age when LGBTQI+ rights continue to be threatened by state legislation, your stakeholders will no longer tolerate gestures without action. Focus your purpose campaigns on specific issues that affect the queer community and put your money where your rainbow flag is.

Check out the full study here.


TACTICALLY SPEAKING

Movie theater chain AMC has announced a new program called AMC Investor Connect to further engage with the “meme stock” internet investors who have elevated its stock price to an all-time high on Tuesday of $72.62, a 91% increase from its opening rate.

The Verge reports:

AMC Investor Connect [is] “an innovative, proactive communication initiative that will put AMC in direct communication with its extraordinary base of enthusiastic and passionate individual shareholders to keep them up to date about important company information and to provide them with special offers.” This represents “a groundbreaking new approach” to communicating with retail investors, the company says. It’s a shame they didn’t put a bunch of rocket emojis in the announcement—after all, there’s no need to be coy. We all know exactly who AMC is speaking to, and if they sign up today, they’re getting free popcorn.

Take note that you can extend the length of a positive viral trend affecting your brand by showing stakeholders you are in on the trend and working with marketing to craft incentives for them to keep it going. Rewarding stakeholder enthusiasm with direct communication channels not only gamifies their engagement but also provides valuable data and intel that you can relay to leaders to help make informed operational changes.


RAGAN’S 2021 BENCHMARK REPORT

Ragan has released its annual Communications Benchmark Report, an exclusive study from Ragan’s Communications Leadership Council that analyzes the major trends in the profession over the last year.

During that time, comms pros have been called on to develop and distribute messages on new policies that affect internal and external stakeholders alike. Their role has become more essential as they helped keep their organizations focused and moving forward. They’ve seen their access to the C-suite increase throughout 2020, and they forged important new alliances with peers in other departments, including HR, finance and workplace wellness.

Culled from more than 750 respondents, the 32-page report is available in its entirety exclusively to members of the Communications Leadership Council.

Download your copy of the exclusive Benchmark Survey Executive Summary today and get a crucial competitive advantage that will fuel your success for 2021 and beyond.


SOCIAL BUZZ

Twitter has announced that it is launching a subscription weather service called Tomorrow. Meteorologist and climate journalist Eric Holthaus announced the project, which he described as “a weather service that’s designed around people, not jargon.”

Holthaus explained:

When working with your marketing team to brainstorm new subscription and membership offerings, think about how your company can offer stakeholders value through a premium tier by offering more context and deeper engagement with your core products. When it fits your brand identity, partner with experts in other fields who have passion projects that your company can help bankroll and scale to launch these offering without requiring your company to build the product from scratch.


COMMUNICATIONS WEEK

Ragan is delighted to add industry event and thought leadership brand Communications Week to our portfolio. You can read the full press release here.

“We are reimagining Communications Week as a year-round endeavor,” says Ragan Communications CEO Diane Schwartz. “The rollout will begin next month with thought-provoking content on the future of communications on Commsweek.com, Ragan.com and PRDaily.com, culminating with a weeklong series in November that will feature conferences, networking events, workshops, webinars and more.”

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The flagship event for 2021 will take place Nov. 15-19. Stay tuned for updates on the many opportunities and offerings that will help communicators connect, learn and celebrate their achievements later this year.

FTC cracks down on automatic subscription renewals

The Federal Trade Commission [FTC] has announced that it is reviewing ways to make it more difficult for companies to snare customers in automatic monthly subscription renewals in response to a record number of consumer complaints over the past few years as monthly subscriptions have grown in popularity and several companies face civil lawsuits. The complaints include being tricked into monthly subscriptions without consent and making it easy to sign up for subscriptions that are difficult to cancel.

The Washington Post reports:

“The commission is trying to figure out how best to respond to this problem and, in doing so, is looking at all its tools,” which include law enforcement, regulation and consumer education, said James Kohm, associate director of the FTC’s enforcement division, in a phone interview. “Clarifying the rules really does have a big effect.”

Subscription-based businesses very frequently use “negative-option” billing, Kohm said. Negative-option billing is a term for the practice in which a business interprets a consumer’s silence or inaction as consent to charge them. “A subscription doesn’t have to be a negative option, but it almost always is,” he said, based on his observations of the industry.

Why it matters:

As many brands are doubling down on premium subscription services and offerings, take note that the FTC’s warning makes a case for you to be involved in not only crafting clear language around your company’s opt-out procedures, but work with your digital team to ensure that the site navigation allows that messaging to be easily seen and accessible.


CONFERENCE ALERT

Communicators face a crossroads this year as they anticipate markets recovering and workplaces reopening. Their work crafting a flexible crisis plan and mindful messaging that ensures your brand or organization is ready to handle any future unforeseen situation smoothly will be essential.

Join us at Ragan’s Crisis Communications Conference on June 10  to learn timely strategies to help you reimagine your approach to crisis communications, mobilize internal and external stakeholders to be your megaphone and foster goodwill—and make fresh plans for unforeseen obstacles that may arise.

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Learn powerful insights and approaches from speakers at organizations including Carnival Cruise Line, KFC, IBM, Amtrak, Mastercard and more.

Register for our event here.


WHAT YOU SAID

Yesterday we asked if you have ever partnered with your marketing team to change the language or verbiage of your messaging in the interest of clearing up misinformation or disinformation. A whopping 92% of you said yes, which serves as a reminder that your oversight as communicators is not only valuable, but crucial, to your company’s financial success.

Is there a question you’d like to see asked? Let us know using the hashtag #DailyScoop!


SOUNDING BOARD

Have you ever had a chance to craft the language around your company’s subscription or membership offerings, PR pros and communicators?

Share any tips that you have to make opt-out language clearer for your customers below. We’ll share top responses in tomorrow’s roundup.

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