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

Huckabee Sanders apologizes; Weber Shandwick wins Maryland contract; Whole Foods Market hires Heidi Noble Stewart; Bed Bath and Beyond execs canned at Christmas; Reality shows ratings beat Trump impeachment.

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders apologized Thursday, after tweeting what she says was an unwittingly mocking tweet about presidential candidate Joe Biden. In Thursday’s presidential debate, Biden described how children ask him for help with their speech problems. Sanders commented: "I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I hhave absolutely no idea what Biden is talking about." Amid a Twitter backlash, including Biden pointing out that he stutters, Huckabee Sanders deleted the tweet and apologized: "I actually didn’t know that about you and that is commendable. I apologize and should have made my point respectfully." (USA Today)

Weber Shandwick won a contract potentially worth $28 million from Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration to educate the public about the state’s Highway Safety Office and its initiatives. Maryland’s Board of Public Works awarded the Interpublic Group agency a five-year contract, which started on Thursday, with a spending ceiling of $20 million and an optional two-year renewal period with a limit of $8 million.

Whole Foods Market has hired Heidi Noble Stewart as executive leader of consumer PR and social and influencer marketing. Stewart joined the company this month, according to her LinkedIn account. For the last 10 years, Stewart has worked at Weber Shandwick, most recently as EVP and consumer practice leader for the Western region for six years.

Five Bed Bath and Beyond executives departed the company Tuesday (another resigned last week) prompting many to wonder why such a massive corporate upheaval was taking place in the middle of the holidays. The timing seems odd, but the upheaval is completely normal, says Dustin York, director of Undergraduate and Graduate Communication at Maryville University.

TV viewers care more about reality shows than the impeachment of former reality star President Trump. Overall, some 15 million TV viewers saw the House of Representatives vote. The ratings of some networks, however, showed more people interested in reality shows and sitcom remakes. CBS and ABC switched from airing the debate to entertainment while NBC stuck with the news. According to Nielsen, NBC had 5 million viewers during the hour, starting at 8 p.m. eastern, when the House voted. CBS had 6.7 million viewers for the season end of "Survivor," and 5.7 million watched ABC’s live remakes of two classic sitcoms; most likely more viewers than they would have attracted had they stuck with news. (Associated Press)

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