Live blog: The latest on how coronavirus is affecting PR and marketing

The latest: Businesses rush for pandemic financial help

Photo credit: Small businesses are rushing for local and federal loan programs. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
Photo credit: Small businesses are rushing for local and federal loan programs. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

April 6

Businesses rush for pandemic financial help 

PR shops are among the businesses that have been hit hard economically by the coronavirus pandemic, and New York City and the federal government unveiled loan and grant packages to help. As they did, businesses moved quickly to take advantage of the aid. 

Funding for New York’s Employee Retention Grant program was quickly committed and the program has been closed. The loan program opened on March 27 and received 10,000 applications in three days.

Mid-last week, the Small Business Administration opened applications for the federal program. By early Friday morning, banks had processed 700 loans totaling $2.5 million, according to The New York Times. By that afternoon, $1.8 billion was committed, and that number hit $3.2 billion for more than 10,000 small businesses that evening. 

Fortunately, those are not the only resources available. There are at least 55 federal and state initiatives to help small businesses weather the pandemic.

--Thomas Moore

Apple steps up coronavirus response  

In a video tweeted on Sunday night, CEO Tim Cook said Apple has sourced more than 20 million masks through its global supply chain and is working with governments to donate them where they’re needed. The company is also designing, producing and shipping more than 1 million face shields for medical workers by the end of this week and another million each week after that, said Cook.

“Our focus is on unique ways Apple can help, meeting essential needs of caregivers urgently and at a scale the circumstances require,” Cook said.

Other noteworthy coronavirus communications efforts:

--Diana Bradley

April 3

Industry reacts to Cannes Lions cancellation

Cannes Lions has canceled the annual Festival of Creativity, which will no longer take place in October as previously planned. The next edition of the festival will run June 21-25, 2021.

"Our difficult decision follows in-depth consultations with our partners and customers and reflects the unprecedented societal, health and economic challenges currently facing the world, as well as our desire to remove any uncertainty about the running of the awards and event for our partners and customers," the organization said.

Some say the decision was the right call, while others feel Cannes Lions should have held the event virtually.

--Diana Bradley

Ford's Friday production announcement

Ford said this morning that European production will be halted until at least May 4, the latest in a series of rolling announcements as it figures out when it can restart production at plants around the world.

Here's a timeline of Ford's announcements: The second week of March, it disclosed remote working and coronavirus protections, and a week later, it started to disclose production pauses. On March 17, Ford said it would temporarily suspend European production. It followed that up with production-stoppage announcements in North America, South America, India, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam.

Ford originally said it wanted to restart in North America on March 30, but as the pandemic spread, it announced several restart dates. At the end of last month, it planned to restart work on April 6 at its Hermosillo, Mexico, plant and other North American factories, while others were yet to be decided. In the same statement, Ford said it would start to build ventilators at its Rawsonville, Michigan, components plant supported by paid United Auto Workers volunteers on April 20.

-Thomas Moore

April 2

Can Zoom handle its extreme close-up?

Zoom is having a moment. It's a noun. It's a verb. It's bringing people together for meetings and the closest thing we can manage to social activities in #QuarentineLife. And it might just be the indispensable technology of the COVID-19 period, however long it lasts.

Zoom is also suddenly getting a crash course in being one of the most scrutinized companies in the world. On Thursday, CEO Eric Yuan said the platform is being used by 200 million people per day, an increase of almost one Brazil from 10 million in December. But that wasn't the only news. The company's share price fell 11% after Yuan apologized for security lapses, which have included everything from questionable data-sharing policies to internet psychopath trolls "Zoombombing" gatherings.

Yuan has committed to solid steps to fix this: promising to work on privacy, starting a bug bounty program and holding weekly webinars to update the public, according to CNBC.

Ready or not, Zoom is about to become a classic case study in how quickly a company can grow up and respond to a crisis caused by unexpected skyrocketing growth.

More on what agencies are doing to help:

  • Kentucky creatie shop Scoppechio is donating more than 600 lunches to Baptist Health workers.
  • S3 Agency worked on Franklin Mutual Insurance's Live In campaign, which reflects the realities of the shelter-in-place world.
  • Shift Communications has launched Office Hours, a service in which anyone can ask its senior leadership team for COVID-19 communications advice.

-Frank Washkuch

From Merck to Cards Against Humanity, companies are chipping in
Corporate giving during the pandemic is taking many forms, including donations of direct cash and supplies at cost, as General Motors is doing with ventilators and level one surgical masks. 

Pepsi said on Thursday that it is making a $15.8 million donation in North America for kids missing school lunches, protective healthcare gear, testing and screening services and restaurant workers. In Europe, it is giving $7.7 million for meals, protective equipment and health transportation. In Latin America, $6.5 million will go to food banks, and it is distributing $7.2 million and $3.3 million for meals in EMEA and APAC, respectively. 

Merck, Pfizer and Eli Lilly are offering services, facilities and volunteers, with Merck working with authorities to identify medical facilities that need help and matching them with personnel. Pfizer volunteers are getting full pay, benefits and a promise that their jobs will be saved. Eli Lilly volunteers are manning a free drive-through testing facility, and its labs are analyzing the results. Its medical professionals are also directly serving patients.

Even the makers of Cards Against Humanity are helping by offering people stuck at home with their kids a free print-at-home family-friendly edition of the game it had planned to sell in stores this fall.
—Thomas Moore

Grudge match: Carney vs. Sanders
Here's what happened: Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted that Amazon''s decision to fire a worker who helped to organize a protest due to people getting sick on the job was "immoral." In response, Amazon SVP of global corporate affairs Jay Carney tweeted, "I'm confused. Thought you wanted us to protect our workers?"

Carney said the worker was fired for purposely violating social distancing rules. New York lawmakers, unions and Amazon employees wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos urging him to close the company's warehouses that have been hit by coronavirus.

More on NYC hospitals trying to control their image
Private hospitals, including Mount Sinai Health System and NYU Langone Health, are warning workers about voicing their concerns about what's playing out in emergency rooms across the city. Northwell Health has also told its medical staff that interviews with news media must be cleared by its PR department.
—Diana Bradley

April 1
Some states and counties aren't releasing hospitalization data
The number of people hospitalized or in ICU are among the most reliable data, next to the deaths, epidemiologists say for tracking the spread of coronavirus. The time it takes to get test results, they say, means statistics about reported cases are almost useless in closely following the progress of the outbreak.

Some localities, including NYC and Louisiana, provide a wealth of data. But localities and hospital systems in hot spots like California and Washington are not, saying they don’t have time or ability.

Washington state’s Department of Health has not yet released hospitalization information and King County, Washington’s outbreak epicenter is also holding on to the information. Sutter Health in Northern California and Kaiser Permanente Northern California also won’t release the data.

The questionable control of information has been an issue since the outbreak began. Chinese authorities initially punished Li Wenliang, the ophthalmologist who first warned people about the virus. It apologized for censoring him after he died from the virus.

And just recently, U.S. hospital systems have been warning employees against publicly discussing conditions inside their facilities. One emergency room doctor in Washington State said he was fired for giving an interview to a reporter.
—Thomas Moore

More Amazon walkouts
Amazon workers at a fulfillment center near Detroit, Michigan, plan to walk out over the company’s handling of coronavirus. Workers are calling on Amazon to be more transparent about the virus and immediately close and clean the warehouse.

What other companies are doing
Costco is changing its membership policy to control how many people are in the store at one time.

Home Depot will no longer sell respirator masks to the general public, donating them instead to hospitals.
—Diana Bradley

Trump’s coronavirus approval bump: Will it last? 
President Donald Trump got relatively high marks for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic last week, to the bafflement of most of the political class given his previous, shall we say, inconsistencies on whether the virus would actually be a problem. The numbers were taken as a sign that Trump’s often freewheeling early evening marathon press conferences were working to his political advantage.

However, those numbers seem to be coming back to earth. A Politico/Morning Consult poll found that 47% of voters feel the administration isn’t doing enough in response to the outbreak, versus the 40% who think it’s done the right amount. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll also has former Vice President Joe Biden slightly widening his lead over Trump in a prospective November matchup, despite being relegated to an at-home broadcast studio

How agencies are helping:
Commonwealth Public Relations has launched a semi-daily COVID-19 vlog on YouTube. 

Lola Red has started a daily 15-minute Zoom call known as Positivity Pause to highlight the good news in the world. 

Reputation Doctor LLC has begun offering Reputation Life Coaching for individuals dealing with challenges related to the pandemic.
—Frank Washkuch

March 31
Take note, reality deniers
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have deleted content from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for violating their terms of service by promoting sketchy quasi-treatments for COVID-19 and basically acting like the pandemic is just no big deal.

Humanity at its Best podcast series to launch
It's a partnership between the Purpose 360 Podcast and nonprofit Points of Light. Carol Cone and Kristin Kenney, both of Carol Cone on Purpose, will host the show, which will include short interviews in each episode.
--Frank Washkuch

CNN’s Chris Cuomo, brother of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, tests positive
Chris Cuomo tweeted about the diagnosis on Tuesday: “Soooo in these difficult times that seem to get more difficult and complicated by the day, I just found out that I am positive for coronavirus." He added: “I just hope I didn’t give it to the kids and [his wife] Cristina.”

Governor Cuomo calls for national healthcare action
At his daily press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo again urged New Yorkers to stay home, no matter how bored they get, and stay disciplined during the pandemic. He also asked for healthcare workers from across the country to fight the virus in New York, saying it will hit in other regions next. 

Hospitals tell doctors, nurses not to talk about conditions
An emergency room doctor in Washington State said he was fired for giving an interview to a reporter about a lack of protective equipment. Kathy Lewis, EVP of communications at NYU Langone Health, sent employees a letter last Friday warning that talking to the media without authorization could result in disciplinary action, including termination. New York’s Montefiore Health System also wants its PR department to approve all media requests. 

—Thomas Moore

KFC is helping those in need
KFC is sending one million pieces of chicken to its restaurants across the country to support local communities in need through donation during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Walmart is taking employees’ temperatures
Walmart will start taking staffers’ temperatures when they report to work and tell them to stay home or seek medical care if they have a fever of at least 100 degrees.

Brands better stand up during pandemic
Consumers expect brands to help during the coronavirus pandemic, even to the point of losing money. And they will remember those that do not, according to an Edelman Trust Barometer special report released on Tuesday morning.

T-Mobile wants you to #GiveThanksNotPranks on April Fools’ Day
The company is donating up to $500,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America COVID-19 Relief Fund for its efforts providing childcare support to first responders and healthcare workers, along with meals to families in need.

Whole Foods Market may be understaffed today
The Whole Worker’s National Organizing Committee created an online petition, which has amassed 8,175 signatures, encouraging employees nationally to call in sick today. The committee wants better working conditions and hazard pay for staffers amid the pandemic.

Influencer deemed irresponsible
Naomi Davis is a New York City-based parenting blogger and influencer behind the Love Taza blog who has worked with brands such as Target and Godiva. She is getting hate online for fleeing the city and taking a cross-country trip so her kids could have more space. Her followers don’t think it’s a responsible move.

—Diana Bradley

March 30

“Boy, do you sell those pillows.” 
That’s the glowing introduction President Donald Trump gave to MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell during Monday’s coronavirus press briefing. Lindell explained how his company is increasing its production of cotton face masks. He then went way off script, praising Trump and encouraging Americans to read the Bible. Mainstream media mocked Lindell’s appearance. CEOs from Honeywell, Jockey, Procter & Gamble and United Technologies also spoke at the briefing about how their companies are helping to fight the virus. 

--Diana Bradley

GENYOUth asks public to raise its hand #ForSchoolsSake
The nonprofit launched the For Schools’ Sake — Feed Our Nation’s Kids campaign on Monday. It includes fundraising, an offer to let schools apply for up to $3,000 in grants and a call to action that asks social media users to include the tag #ForSchoolsSake. The group has raised almost $3 million from companies including the NFL Foundation, America’s Dairy Farmers and PayPal in an effort to make sure schools have enough to keep feeding students amid the pandemic.

Macy's explains layoffs to workers
The retailer told staff in a statement on Monday that its efforts to reduce costs weren’t enough, so it must lay off most of its 130,000 employees starting this week. The store said it tried to conserve cash by suspending its dividend, drawing down its credit line, slowing the time it takes to pay suppliers and canceling orders, but it wasn’t enough. Macy’s will pay health benefits and cover premiums until at least May. Some employees are still working on e-commerce, distribution and in call centers. Macy's stores closed on March 18.

CEO Arthur Sadoun talks to Publicis employees
In his third talk with employees since the pandemic outbreak, Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun said he is glad more staff are taking advantage of the company's offer to fly them home to be with families. He also said the holding company is moving up the release of Marcel, the internal AI-powered platform, to help employees stay connected.

—Thomas Moore

Tokyo Olympics get make-up dates
The opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games will take place on July 23, 2021, almost one year to the day after the games were due to start this year. While that may sound somewhat simple in terms of rescheduling, the delay is leaving a lot of hurdles for brands.

Instacart, Amazon workers go on strike
At noon, 100 Amazon staffers at a New York fulfillment center are set to go on strike, alleging management has been unresponsive to safety concerns. Some Instacart workers are also planning a walk out on Monday. Ahead of the planned strike, in a Medium post, Instacart outlined changes it made to appease workers. Instacart comms head Dani Dudek wrote on LinkedIn, “Our teams at Instacart have an unwavering commitment to serve customers and shoppers in the wake of COVID-19.”

Don’t expect pranks from Google on April 1 
Google has used April Fools’ Day to introduce fake products or quirky games, but this year, out of respect for those fighting coronavirus, the company has nixed any jokes organized by its centralized marketing team. Google is also making sure its managers don’t publish smaller April Fools’ Day pranks and Easter eggs on Wednesday. Do you think it’s appropriate for April Fools’ day campaigns to go on? Take our poll.

—Diana Bradley

March 29
Trump extends social distancing guidelines
President Donald Trump extended the national social distancing guidelines to April 30. “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory has been won,” he said, backtracking from earlier comments that the country should get back to business on Easter Sunday.

—Diana Bradley

March 27

Miller Lite pulls ad encouraging people to be social
The jist of a Miller Lite campaign is that getting together with friends  in person  is the "original social media," which is generally true but right now is a bad idea. So the beer brand has finally pulled ads encouraging in-person fun and replaced them with a Virtual Tip Jar, which helps laid-off bar employees. 

Perplexing PR planning for Tokyo games
The Tokyo Olympics are basically kicking the world's biggest sporting event down the road for one year. But it's not that simple for agencies working on activations, which have to consider things like whether live events will be back in vogue in 2021 and reassessing business plans. 

Frank Washkuch

Google adds $800 million package to COVID-19 response
Google is rolling out a new omnibus package today on COVID-19 relief that totals $800 million in support. It’s going to help small- and medium-sized businesses, nonprofits, health organizations and governments.

Diana Bradley

Congress pases relief bill
The House has approved the largest U.S. economic stimulus package in history, a $2 trillion initiative that sends Americans direct payments and jobless benefits, money to states and provides a bailout fund for businesses affected by the pandemic.

Trump aims tweets at GM
President Trump broke out the exclamation marks on Twitter Friday urging GM to start making ventilators.  “As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out. They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, “very quickly”. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar,” he wrote in one of his tweets, before calling CEO Mary Barra “a mess.”

At least we’ll have the Peeps
Even if lockdown doesn’t end on Easter, we’ll still be able to enjoy Peeps. The Just Born confections company in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which stopped production until April 7,  has already shipped the Easter supply of its signature marshmallow treasures to stores.

More You Know coronavirus PSAs
The COVID-19-focused The More You Know PSA campaign debuted Friday on NBC's TODAY. The campaign addresses how people can reduce their risk and prevent the spread of the virus. A dozen ads will begin airing in the next few weeks.

Wendy's cuts franchisees break on rent, fees
With sales down 20%, the company announced that payment terms for royalties and marketing funds for franchisees are extended by 45 days and rental payments are deferred by 50%. CEO Todd Penegor said the company is "supporting our franchise partners as we navigate through this very challenging and historic time together."

-Thomas Moore

March 26
Doctors are taking to Twitter to talk about conditions in NYC hospitals
An internal medicine resident (@thisismeredith) has been live-tweeting her experience because "the press does not reflect our reality." She tweeted that the ICU she works in is "completely full with intubated COVID patients."

Amazon worker gets coronavirus
Coworkers are outraged that the company hasn't notified employees about it.

Cheesecake Factory isn't paying rent in April
In a letter to landlords, chairman and CEO David Overton wrote that a severe decline in restaurant traffic amid the coronavirus pandemic has "inflicted a tremendous financial blow" to business.

Sam's Club is thanking people working in retail amid the pandemic.
The warehouse retailer released a video naming hundreds of its employees.

McDonald's simplifies operations in response to coronavirus
The fast-food chain is removing some items from its U.S. menu, such as its all-day breakfast menu. U.S. president Joe Erlinger reassured consumers that the change is only temporary, tweeting, "All day breakfast's response to this news: 'I'll be back.'"

-Diana Bradley

March 25

Tony Awards are latest major event to be postponed
The Tony Awards, which honor the best of Broadway, have been postponed indefinitely. The ceremony had been scheduled for June 7 at Radio City Music Hall. Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally died this week of complications from coronavirus. 

Consumer campaigns and brand activations are at the biggest risk of being eliminated 
That’s one finding from PRWeek’s survey of in-house and agency communications professionals on the effects of coronavirus. Nearly nine in 10 respondents said campaigns have been canceled because of the pandemic.

March 24

Danone North America responds to emerging food needs
Danone is donating $1.5 million to food banks and food rescue organizations, such as New York-based City Harvest and Feeding Westchester, and Colorado-based Community Food Share and We Don’t Waste. The company is also providing enhanced benefits for the 2,600 hourly employees working in Danone North America manufacturing plants and warehouses. Benefits include a pay premium through, at a minimum, the end of April, as well as paid quarantine leave and childcare support.

Discover Puerto Rico invites the public to the island — virtually
From March 27-29, the organization is teaching the public to salsa and make cocktails and to enjoy a cooking demo hosted by Puerto Rican talent. Ketchum is working on the campaign.

EvolveMKD donates to charities
Megan Driscoll, founder and CEO of New York-based agency EvolveMKD, has vowed to donate to a new charity each week to help those affected by the pandemic. The firm has donated to the Restaurants Community Workers Foundation, which established a Restaurant Workers COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund last week to support workers, small business owners and industries in crisis.
—Diana Bradley

How agencies are using their skills to help other small businesses 
Reed Public Relations has launched the COVID-19 communications hotline, giving communications counsel on the virus gratis via 45-minute Zoom conference calls. 

North 6th Agency is producing daily COVID-19 Business Corner videos, with counsel and best practices on topics such as corporate communications, marketing and culture. It’s also planning to launch a live webinar series on Wednesday morning, including Q&As.
—Frank Washkuch

Bay Area agencies SutherlandGold, a communications shop, and creative firm Moonshot have created a coronavirus resource page to help CEOs and communicators navigate the crisis. It addresses questions such as what to do if an employee tests positive and how to successfully pivot after a canceled event.

Marathon Strategies has created a coronavirus resource called COVID-19 Covered, a website and email newsletter with data from the capital and around the U.S. about the crisis. Data points include: a state-by-state data listing of cases, testing, social restrictions and economic responses; giving opportunities; and an online snapshot of how the pandemic is trending nationally and worldwide.

March 23
PRWeek Global Awards 2020 live event canceled 
Haymarket Business Media has decided to cancel its PRWeek Global Awards 2020 live event, due to take place on 19 May in London, in light of the situation regarding the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada and Australia have pulled out of the Summer Olympic Games
The major Olympic nations said the games should be delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. International Olympic Committee's executive board said it is considering postponing -- but not canceling -- this summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo. A final decision will be made by the IOC in the next four weeks.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka is producing and distributing 24 tons of hand sanitizer
The product will be given out for free to the community and to those who are most in need, a press release from Tito’s PR partner Praytell explained. Earlier this month, Tito’s social media team warned DIYers not to make their own hand sanitizer from its vodka. The one Tito’s is making adheres to industry and governmental guidance. 

PR pros are impressed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Former White House comms director Anthony Scaramucci tweeted Sunday that Cuomo is “voice of reason” who is “comforting people with his wisdom and competence.” Jim Wilkinson, chairman and CEO of TrailRunner International, tweeted that Cuomo is the “adult we need right now,” adding that President Donald Trump should hire Cuomo to run national response. Steve Weiss, Hikma Pharmaceuticals’ head of U.S. comms and public affairs, tweeted that Cuomo’s pressers are “thoughtful, fact-based, transparent and reassuring.”

March 20
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo order all state residents to stay home.

The U.S. moves the deadline for filing taxes from April 15 to July 15. 

Delta warns Q2 revenue could fall by $10 billion due to coronavirus.

March 19
Nikki Haley, former United Nations ambassador, resigns from Boeing’s board of directors, saying “the board and executive team are going in a direction I cannot support.”

Carnival Corp. offers its some of its cruise ships as floating hospitals to treat patients for conditions not related to coronavirus.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) is under fire for selling 1.7 million shares worth of stock after warning a North Carolina audience of the dire economic effects of coronavirus, despite reassuring the country in public.

Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), James Inhofe (R-OK) and Dianne Feinsteinn (D-CA) all sold stock after receiving non-public information about the outbreak in January.

A Weber Shandwick memo is published on Business Insider revealing that a New York employee, who was last in the office March 11, tested positive for coronavirus. Two other employees previously came into contact with a person that tested positive.

Around the city…
Two additional WeWork offices in New York City have had workers test positive for the coronavirus, according to the New York Post

About today’s coronavirus press conference…
President Donald Trump seemed to say that an anti-malaria drug, chloroquine, has been approved for treating COVID-19. “[Chloroquine] has been around for a long time, so we know if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody,” Trump said, according to CNN

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, tempered the president’s comments, telling the network, “Let me make one thing clear: The FDA’s responsibility to the American people is to ensure that products are safe and effective.” 

Alrighty then. 

What agencies are doing 
DS Simon has produced two episodes of its COVID-19 media guide for PR pros. Surveying 52 TV stations, it found that 87% said they would take a coronavirus-related story from brands or nonprofits. 

And Red Fan Communications is offering free hour-long consultations with CEO Kathleen Lucente and agency staff to business executives about the novel coronavirus.

March 18

Six tips for brands to speak to Hispanics about coronavirus
Recognizing that Hispanics in the U.S. face unique health challenges, Miami's Boden Agency reached out to four expert sources for ideas on how to effectively speak about the coronavirus.

  • Fernando Holguin, MD and director of the Latino Research and Policy Center at the University of Colorado
  • The Office of Minority Health at the Department of Health and Human Services
  • José Szapocznik, chair emeritus, department of public health sciences at the University of Miami
  • Behavioral health expert Karla Siu

Here's what they advised:

1. Make sure your COVID-19 task force is diverse.

2. Communicate to your Hispanic employee base, especially if you employ a large number of Hispanic employees, being sure to reach out to the front line. Simple, daily, in-language communications can make a world of difference.

3. Empower senior leadership to communicate in Spanish, although senior leadership does not need to speak Spanish. You can translate messages and distribute them throughout your networks to Spanish-speaking stakeholders including the media and employees.

4. Prepare a Spanish-speaking spokesperson. If you have a national and local footprint, identify spokespeople in local markets, even for national roles. Choose from areas such as Miami, Houston and Los Angeles, where the largest Hispanic demographics and media outlets exist.

5. Partner with local and national organizations for in-kind support and think about how your service or products can support the Latino community. Start working with community organizations to further your efforts.

6. If you represent a healthcare brand, go into overdrive. Demonstrate your commitment to this stakeholder group in culturally relevant authentic ways that are true to your brand.
--Thomas Moore

Creatives concerned about job security
Everyone is worried about the effect coronavirus will have on the economy and specifically, their own jobs. However, creatives are more worried than most, according to data from Fishbowl. 

Its survey, which ran from March 13-17 and polled 17,000 verified professionals, found that 65% of advertising agency pros think coronavirus will result in layoffs at their company. That’s higher than consulting (58%), finance (44%), accounting (41%) and legal (32%) workers. 

Trump sticking to ‘Chinese virus’ line
President Donald Trump authorized the Defense Production Act, which allows the federal government to compel companies to produce products for the national defense, according to NBC News, and dispatched a Navy hospital ship to New York Harbor. He also defended referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” and argued it isn’t racist to do so at Wednesday’s coronavirus task force press conference. 
--Frank Washkuch

March 17

Ad Club delays forum
Boston-based The Ad Club has postponed its Women’s Leadership Forum to June 17 from March 26. The organization’s largest event will become a digital event, president Kathy Kiely said in an email. 

‘We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately’ 
That’s what Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said at today's press conference of the federal government’s coronavirus task force. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, tried to rewrite some of the history of the past few weeks by saying, “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic,” despite telling thousands of people last month that COVID-19 was a hoax. 

3BL Media opens CSRwire for COVID announcements 
3BL Media is waiving fees to use CSRwire for public service, non-commercial press releases responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The company is asking issuers to use the email address to submit releases for free distribution. 

“Those who are losing loved ones due to COVID-19 don't have a PR budget to amplify their pleas for aid,” 3BL CEO Dave Armon said in a note to staff. “That's why we've offered to help. It's the right thing to do, and I am sure our entire team will be proud to be part of the relief effort.”

G&S poll: Americans expect a lot from employers during a pandemic 

Here’s a quick snapshot of findings from G&S Business Communications’ poll of more than 1,000 people about their employers and coronavirus. 

Yes, respondents are worried, with more than three quarters (76%) saying they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about COVID-19.. Six percent are somehow still not worried. 

They also think companies should let employees work from home (75%) and would think of a company more favorably if it shares its policies with the general public (71%) or shuts down operations (63%). Nearly three in four are satisfied with major corporations’ responses (74%). More than half (55%) of employed respondents said they are hearing from their companies at least daily. 

There is bad news: one-third (33%) said they would go to work even if they feel sick.

Meanwhile a study of 300 communications executives by the Institute for Public Relations and Peppercomm found that 30% of respondents said their organization is “very” prepared for coronavirus, while 55% said it was “somewhat” prepared. Less than half said their communications function was “very” prepared (41%) or “somewhat” prepared (46%). 
--Frank Washkuch

March 16
Twitter global comms VP Brandon Borrman has coronavirus symptoms
He has been sharing his story on Twitter. FiComm Partners EVP Kate Rambo also tweeted that she has symptoms. Borrman and Rambo have not been tested yet.

North 6th Agency rallies PR bosses to take the COVID CEO Pledge
North 6th CEO Matt Rizzetta launched the pledge on Monday, asking CEOs to cut their salaries by 50% and reinvest the savings into job preservation or stimulating the PR job market by creating new hiring opportunities. CEOs can sign up for the pledge at

Cities are temporarily closing down businesses to stop the spread of coronavirus
New York City and Los Angeles closed all bars and restaurants, except for takeout. Ohio, Illinois and Washington state imposed similar measures. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also said all nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues will be forced to close.
--Diana Bradley

March 15
Omnicom Group has instated a global work from home policy
CEO John Wren told staffers in an email on Sunday that the company has seen "marked improvements in China and Singapore with teams starting to get back to business as usual." 

Retailers respond to pandemic by shuttering stores
On Sunday, Starbucks tweeted that it’s temporarily moving to a “to go” model in the U.S. and Canada; and Nike said it’s temporarily closing stores in select countries through March 27. Other stores shutting in the U.S. include Lululemon Athletica, Under Armour, Lands End, Columbia Sportswear and Urban Outfitters. Gap is temporarily reducing store hours for all of its locations in the U.S. and Canada, and closing over 100 stores.
--Diana Bradley

March 14: 
Read tells WPP staff to work from home
WPP CEO Mark Read has sent a memo to all staffers urging them to work from home "wherever possible" and to eliminate nearly all travel. PRWeek's sister title Campaign has the full memo
--Frank Washkuch

March 13
Diamond urges on McCann
McCann Worldgroup chief and former Weber Shandwick CEO Harris Diamond told staffers at the creative agency that "we must keep McCann up and running," while reaffirming the agency's commitment to employee health. PRWeek's sister brand Campaign has the full memo.
--Frank Washkuch

Trump declares national emergency
President Donald Trump declares a national emergency at a press conference, giving states and territories access up to $50 billion in federal funds to combat the coronavirus pandemic, while HHS Secretary Alex Azar now has authority to give doctors and hospitals more flexibility.

Trump to hold another press conference
President Trump will hold a press conference at 3 p.m. EST to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, following an Oval Office address two days prior that was criticized by many.

Event postponements
Organizers of the 2020 Masters postponed the golf tournament to an undetermined date. While the event is known for minimizing sponsorships, its corporate sponsors include AT&T, Mercedes-Benz and IBM.

The Boston Marathon is being moved to September 14. Its principal sponsor is John Hancock.

SocialChorus has moved its FutureComms, scheduled to take place in April in New York, to a later date in the fall.

Update: The University of Southern California has canceled the 30th Annual Kenneth Owler Smith Symposium on Public Relations, scheduled for April 16.  

Contingency plans
Davis & Gilbert, a law firm known for servicing advertising and marketing communications agencies, has informed its clients of its contingency plans to ensure business goes on as usual if it has to close an office.

Three-quarters of all employees want their bosses to tell them about their company’s contingency plans in the event that someone is infected by coronavirus, according to a study by Global Strategy Group. More employees worry about the economic impact of the pandemic (67%) than the possibility of someone they know becoming infected (50%).

Free crisis support
KWT Global is offering free crisis work around counsel and content to nonprofits who need support.
--Sean Czarnecki

March 12
More diagnosed with coronavirus
Fabio Wajngarten, the press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, has tested positive for coronavirus two days after Bolsonaro met President Trump in Florida.

Event cancellations and suspensions
The ColorComm Network suspends chapter events in nine U.S. cities for March, including ColorComm Service Day, eyeing April as a potential date to resume local programming.

The NCAA cancels the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, following the lead of the NBA and NHL, who suspended their seasons, while the MLB delayed the start of its season and cancelled spring training games.

Brands react
AT&T, Verizon and Comcast offer faster internet speeds at temporarily discounted prices as Americans start working remotely to slow the spread of coronavirus.
--Sean Czarnecki

March 11
Page cancels the in-person version of Spring Seminar
The event was scheduled to take place in New York on April 2-3, resorting to making many of its webinars available at a reduced rate.
--Sean Czarnecki

Edelman takes precautions in UAE
Edelman has temporarily closed its Abu Dhabi and Dubai offices after a staffer tested positive for coronavirus upon returning from a European trip. Edelman’s team in Washington, DC, has also been told to work from home for a week after a staffer there had contact with someone who tested positive for the virus, according to Politico.
--Sean Czarnecki

Cannes’ contingency plan
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is planning to go ahead with the June event as planned, but it could delay the festival until October. Simon Cook, MD of the Cannes Lions, said organizers want to be open about the backup plan “as the global situation is evolving constantly,” according to Campaign.
--Sean Czarnecki

March 10
Coronavirus event canceled due to coronavirus
The Council on Foreign Relations has dropped plans for a roundtable called “Doing Business Under Coronavirus” due to the spread of the virus, as well as other conferences scheduled from March 11 to April 3, according to Bloomberg. The New York auto show has also been rescheduled to August. American Airlines and Delta Airlines have slashed domestic and international flights due to falling demand.
--Sean Czarnecki

Edelman takes precautions in DC
Staffers in Edelman's Washington, DC, office are working from home for the next week after one of the firm's employees had “physical contact” with someone who tested positive for coronavirus, U.S. CEO Russell Dubner told Politico. The agency is doing a “deep clean” of the office while its staffers are out.
--Sean Czarnecki

Festival postponed
Coachella has been postponed to the weekends of October 9 and October 16, with all of the original lineup confirmed to perform, including Rage Against the Machine and Travis Scott.
-Sean Czarnecki

March 9
Thousands stuck on cruise ship
After 21 people tested positive on Princess Cruises’ Grand Princess, thousands are still stuck on the ship, waiting to disembark.

The Indian Wells tennis tournament cancels for the first time in history.

Speculation swirls that Coachella, which takes place in Indio, California, could be cancelled after a local resident tests positive.
-Sean Czarnecki

March 8
No NYC mass transit shutdown
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said state authorities are not shutting down mass transit -- yet. “We haven’t had, to the extent we have big numbers in New York, it’s actually in Westchester [County], which is a suburban community, as you know, where you have a cluster of cases,” he told Fox News Channel.
--Frank Washkuch

March 7
Slowdown for the Acela set
First the bad news: Amtrak is temporarily suspending its nonstop New York to Washington, DC, service from Tuesday until March 26 due to lagging demand. The good news: more time for spotting political and public affairs heavyweights commuting on the slower regional lines.

Amtrak said in a statement that it is “making temporary adjustments to our schedule, such as removing train cars or canceling trains when there is a convenient alternative with a similar schedule that will have minimal impact to customers.”

New York is also in a state of emergency as of Saturday as the number of cases in the state hit 76.
-Frank Washkuch

March 6
SXSW canceled
South by Southwest is canceled after weeks of speculation. The festival’s organizers said in a tweet that the city of Austin, Texas, made the decision and that they were considering future dates for rescheduled events and virtual elements.

PR agencies say they are quickly writing up employee work-from-home policies and considering travel restrictions as events are canceled or scaled back. The pullback in live events is a short-term boon for the virtual events business.
-Sean Czarnecki

March 5
Lego convention changes blueprints
Following a reported case of coronavirus in North Carolina, Lego convention BrickUniverse replaces some of its interactive attractions with displays.

More technology companies, such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft ask their employees to work from home.

Vodka brand Tito’s tweets PSAs reminding customers that it is definitely not a hand sanitizer.

The Paris Marathon is postponed until October. The event is sponsored by Schneider Electric.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society cancels its annual conference.
-Sean Czarnecki

March 4
Big Brands pull out of SXSW
Apple and Netflix cancel their appearances at South by Southwest.

As travel demand dwindles, United Airlines and JetBlue cut flights.

The Securities and Exchange Commission says companies can qualify for a 45-day extension to release quarterly earnings if they’re affected by the coronavirus.
-Sean Czarnecki

March 3
Buffett sees opportunity with Delta
Berkshire Hathaway buys almost a million shares of Delta Air Lines stock as the outbreak threatens international travel.

Google cancels its I/O developer conference.
-Sean Czarnecki

March 2
More attendees out of SXSW
SXSW bleeds more boldface attendees as Facebook, Tik Tok and Vevo pull out.

The Natural Products Expo West postpones after more than 200 vendors withdrew.

Google turns its Cloud Next conference into a digital-only event.
-Sean Czarnecki

March 1
Twitter cancels its appearance at South by Southwest.

Middle East creativity festival Dubai Lynx delays its event until early September.
-Sean Czarnecki

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