Breakfast Briefing: 5 things for PR pros to know Thursday morning

GCI makes two big hires; Brands leading social buzz ahead of Super Bowl; How Starbucks is preparing staffers for customers' Schultz questions; Facebook's PR crises not stopping growth.

GCI Health has made two hiresTrey Watkins as SVP, leading the agency’s global health and corporate responsibility work; and Margaret Shubny as EVP to grow the agency’s corporate comms offering. Watkins most recently served as an advisor in the executive office of the secretary-general for the United Nations; and Shubny was most recently executive director of Golin’s healthcare practice, according to a press release from GCI. 

Here are the brands leading social media buzz ahead of Super Bowl LIII: According to Talkwater data covering the last 30 days, Pepsi received over 51,600 mentions on social, often linked to the Halftime show featuring Maroon 5 or the Coke vs Pepsi war followed on Twitter; Toyota garnered 17,800 mentions, often linked to their new SB ad featuring Toni Harris, aspiring to be first female NFL player; and Doritos received 14,300 mentions, featuring mostly the collaboration between musician Chance the Rapper and the Backstreet Boys.

Go on, ask your local Starbucks barista about 
Howard Schultz’s presidential ambitions. They will be ready for the chat, thanks to a memo the coffee chain sent out to staffers with tips on what to say, including how to "diffuse" situations in which customers are expressing "aggressive political opinions" about the former CEO’s potential 2020 bid. Should workers be asked about "Howard’s political intentions," the coffee chain told them to say its former CEO’s "future plans are up to him," according to the Huffington Post.  

Some Starbucks staffers are begging Schultz not to run for president. The chain’s employees are concerned that his candidacy could help reelect President Donald Trump. Additionally, they are worried about how the campaign could impact their jobs. There is also the possibility that Starbucks staffers will organize a walkout if Schultz runs, Business Insider reported.

Facebook’s PR crises not stopping growth. The social network posted a record $6.9 billion profit for the final three months of 2018 -- a 61% rise from the same period a year earlier and way ahead of estimates. Facebook's revenue for the quarter was up 30% to $16.9 billion, according to its latest earnings report. User numbers are also up, according to CNBC

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