How brands can craft messages around financial relief

Zach Olsen is quoted in PRNews discussing how large brands should proactively plan for media and consumer interest in how they react to and seek relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

People refer to the new normal a lot. What it means remains to be seen. Does the new normal include large, apparently cash-rich companies asking landlords to renegotiate or defer rents? Perhaps the new normal includes large employers, such as Uber and WW (formerly Weight Watchers), laying off staff via Zoom?

After paying rent for April and May, Starbucks wanted a coffee break. Earlier this month it sent a letter to thousands of landlords seeking changes to leases and base rent, the Wall Street Journal and Seattle Times reported. The company refused to comment about the articles. In addition, it did not say how many landlords it sent the letter to, what concessions it’s seeking or the state of negotiations.

A question for PR pros is how these stories might influence a company’s reputation, now and after the pandemic. How much will stories, particularly those about Uber and WW, hurt future recruitment? And will a company’s charitable work during the pandemic insulate it from a reputation ding?

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