Data privacy is a huge concern for many companies. From TikTok and Facebook facing record-breaking fines to Airbnb admitting its “listening” for parties during big holiday weekends, companies are walking a treacherous road. The future of PR may well hang in the balance.
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- The Dark Side of Big Tech and Social Media
- Is Green the New Black? The Rise of Sustainability in PR
- 60-Second Close: The Great PR Balancing Act
1. The Dark Side of Big Tech and Social Media
- TikTok just got fined a record $750 million in the U.K. and now faces bans in the U.S. and around the globe. Facebook’s parent Meta just got a jaw-dropping $1.3 billion fine for violating EU data privacy laws. Furthermore, TikTok, Twitter, and Meta's Instagram/Facebook all face multiple class action lawsuits in which they’re each accused of knowingly using algorithms that exploit users' mental well-being for profit.
- Airbnb is also facing data privacy scrutiny after it came to light that their anti-party initiative launched in 2020 started using controversial risk-detection technology. According to Forbes Magazine, Airbnb uses Noise Aware, a device that monitors rental property volume.
- The question is: is Airbnb crossing an ethical line by listening to guests' conversations? With lawsuits piling up against other tech titans and the public becoming more aware of how their data is being used, it may prove to be a PR disaster for companies that do not take data privacy seriously.
2. Is Green the New Black? The Rise of Sustainability in PR
- There is a growing awareness among consumers of the importance of sustainability as well as an increasing demand for more sustainable products, such as those made from recycled materials or that are energy-efficient.
- As public sentiment toward sustainability grows, we’re seeing more examples of household brands following suit. For example, Proctor & Gamble's Tide detergent bottles are now made with recycled plastic. Ratings service Morningstar® now ranks companies based on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores.
- So, is it worth it to the audience for companies to "go green"? A recent high-profile example saw climate protesters attempt to storm Shell’s annual shareholders meeting over its climate strategy, and CEO, Wael Sawan, had to be whisked away by security.
Other companies like Nike are facing lawsuits after being accused of "greenwashing" claims and also being investigated for toxic amounts of BPA in their athleticwear. From construction companies implementing LEED building principles to oil majors seeking more sustainable energy production, “mean what you say and say what you mean” builds trust, engagement, and community.
3. 60-Second Close: The Great PR Balancing Act
- Protecting your customers’ data has become paramount in the age of information. While data can produce wonderful, engaging, and thoughtful touchpoints for your brand, it can also lead to PR blunders.
- Global companies like Nike and Budweiser are discovering what happens when disingenuous advertising comes to light before the audience. Lost trust is hard to regain, which is why having a crisis communications plan in place ahead of time is far more forward-thinking than reacting afterward.
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