One of my pet peeves about PR firms is when they attempt to distance themselves from objectionable client behavior by saying they had nothing to do with that activity.
Take the current controversy regarding SKDK and its now former longtime client Starbucks.
SKDK is noted for being the White House farm system for communications talent.
In fact, a veritable revolving door connects SKDK with the Joe Biden administration.
President Biden announced May 5 that Anita Dunn, partner and founding member of SKDK, is rejoining his team to plot strategy and guide messaging leading up to the midterm elections.
She was senior advisor to Biden and Kamala Harris during the presidential campaign and then joined Team Biden to work on the transition. Dunn returned to SKDK earlier this year.
Working for the coffee chain, which is trying to stave off union organizing drives at its shops across the US, was just bad optics for SKDK, as Biden takes pride in his role as the most pro labor president in years.
The president and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh had a meeting at the White House earlier this month with labor leaders including a rep from Starbucks Workers United.
Though SKDK says it had absolutely nothing to do with Starbucks on union matters, it cut ties with the company in April.
Starbucks begs to differ, maintaining that it wasn’t SKDK that killed the relationship.
The SKDK/Starbucks flap comes on the heels of another Democratic firm, Global Strategy Group, taking heat for repping Amazon as it attempted to defeat an organizing drive at its JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island.
Like SKDK, GSG said it had nothing to do with Amazon’s union-busting work.
But it said that being involved with Amazon in any way was a mistake. “We are deeply sorry, and we have resigned that work,” said GSG. It deserves credit for that.
In contrast, the Starbucks farewell statement from SKDK, which is part of Mark Penn’s Stagwell, said it “has great admiration for the company.”
I don’t think Joe and Marty share that admiration. Solidarity Forever.
China sinks to a new PR low. Hong Kong security forces arrested 90-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, a longtime champion of freedom of expression and religion, on May 11 under its draconian security laws that went into effect in 2020.
He was charged with “collusion with foreign forces” for his role as a trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which aids jailed pro-democracy Hong Kongers. He was released on bail.
“Arresting a 90-year-old cardinal for his peaceful activities has to be a shocking new low for Hong Kong, illustrating the city’s free fall in human rights in the past two years,” Maya Wang, researcher of China for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
The Kairos Co., a Glendale-based California PR firm, has publicized the arrests of Zen and three other activists.
It released a May 12 statement from Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who called the arrests "a gross violation of human rights that must serve as a wake-up call to societies and governments everywhere.”
Rev. Johnnie Moore, former senior VP-communications at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, founded Kairos Co.
The boss is watching you. The media abound with stories about companies offering goodies to employees in desperate bids to keep them from jumping ship.
Since there are apparently two jobs available to anyone who wants a new gig, companies roll out red carpets to lure new workers.
There’s also a dark side to the death of corporate loyalty: companies simply don’t trust the people that are working for them.
It reported that 60 percent of the more than 1,000 US companies surveyed used spyware to snoop on workers. Another 17 percent are considering it.
Companies use spyware to track the whereabouts of workers and the hours worked. There is software to determine if a worker is a potential data leaker or intellectual property thief.
New York State offers some relief for paranoid workers who are ready to search for corporate bugs.
As of May 7, big companies in The Empire State are required to inform employees if their phone, email and Internet activity is being monitored.
But what about that camera in the corner flowerpot?