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Corporate communications

Target (Almost) Apologizes to Canada

Target wants the nation of Canada to know that they’re “disappointed” in their own performance–and they’ll definitely do better next time.

Last year we reported that the retailer’s northern expansion had failed to convince the Canucks not to shop at Walmart, and this week the company attempted to hit the “reset” button with this clip:

The executive team leader says the problem was all about getting product on the shelves, but we’re not so sure; the primary factor behind the lackluster numbers seemed to be the fact that Walmart is still cheaper and more convenient when it comes to the basics.

Here’s the big one: the Target corporation lost more than one billion dollars in 2013 and fired its president of Canadian operations in May.

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Netflix Stops Accusing Verizon of Being Slow, Starts Proving It

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Verizon may claim to have moved on from its spat with Netflix, but the latter isn’t quite done with this business, thank you very much.

After Verizon sent a cease-and-desist letter insisting that Netflix stop accusing it of slowing down customers’ streaming speeds, the content company’s comms director wrote a blog post indicating that its “transparency campaign” would officially end next week. We might take that announcement with a grain of salt, though: the real purpose of the post was to hype the release of a new round of performance data designed to shame those very service providers.

Click through for the statement, which we read as, “We MIGHT stop bringing attention to your network congestion. Or we might not. Deal with it.”

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Chobani Claims That No One Owns the Word ‘How’

During last year’s Super Bowl, Chobani and its ad agency Droga5 told us that “how matters.” It was a brilliant Chipotle-style CSR call-to-arms that led, in part, to speculation that the company will soon go public.

Now author/ethics consultant Dov Seidman and his lawyers want to make that filing process a bit more difficult.

Seidman, whose best-selling book bore the title How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything and an introduction by no less than Bill Clinton, filed suit against both agency and client yesterday for “trademark and service mark infringement and unfair competition.”

For some reason, he seems to think that the campaign might have been related to his book…

Interestingly, Seidman’s company LRN retweeted the message above before declaring it to be lawsuit-worthy. A little extra explanation after the jump.

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The Number of People Killed by GM’s Defective Switch Will Soon Rise

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We’re all aware that General Motors is one of the world’s most challenging clients right now–and we can sit around all day and wonder why the company’s preferred strategy for dealing with its ongoing recall crisis can be summarized with the word “stonewall.”

But a report released by Reuters today indicates that this horrific story has only just begun.

The crux of GM’s defense holds that thirteen people–and only thirteen people–have died in accidents involving the infamously defective ignition switch that shuts down cars and their airbag mechanisms mid-drive.

Unfortunately, that number will change soon.

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Papa John’s CEO Talks Workers’ Wages, Says Drivers Make Close to $20

schnatterPapa John’s CEO John Schnatter brought up a hot button topic while being interviewed for the Inc. GrowCo Conference: workers’ wages.

In his remarks, which Business Insider says were almost a “non sequitur,” Schnatter says his workers are well-paid.

“Remember, I don’t pay anyone minimum wage. The average driver makes way closer to 20 bucks an hour than 10,” he says. ”If we’re not taking care of our people, we’re going to lose good people at every level.” You can watch a clip of this portion of the interview here.

The comments are address an issue the company has been trying to get a handle on for some time. BI notes that “several” Papa John’s franchises in New York have been subpoenaed for under-paying their workers. This at a time where the minimum wage is being fiercely debated. A company spokesperson told the site that the investigation is looking more closely at restaurants that aren’t corporate-owned. Still, it’s damaging to the company’s reputation.

Papa John’s is also being sued by drivers for the ways in which they’re reimbursed for expenses.

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GM Hires Familiar Face as SVP of Global Communications

bildeIn what may be the week/month/year’s least surprising move, General Motors has finally replaced its SVP of global policy and communications with a familiar name and face.

Tony Cervone, who most recently served as VP of group communications for Volkswagen, doesn’t just have an extensive history doing PR for car companies–he worked at GM for 10 years along with current CEO Mary Barra, serving in a VP of global comms/strategy role before leaving for an SVP gig at United Airlines.

The strategy behind the appointment is fairly simple: Barra wants old allies to help her right her company’s badly managed response to its not-going-away faulty brake switch scandal.

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Jury Rules Against Former Anheuser-Busch Comms Veep in Equal Pay Case

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Surprise, surprise: Jill Abramson isn’t the only woman in a prominent executive position who *allegedly* received less money than her male predecessors.

In a case that should draw the attention of all who work in corporate communications, a jury ruled that Francine Katz, who was promoted to VP of comms and public affairs at Anheuser-Busch back in 2002, did not receive unfair wages due to the fact that she happens to be a woman.

For the record, Katz strongly disagrees.

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Target CMO’s Response to Gawker: #PRWin?

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In case you missed it, this week Target‘s CMO Jeff Jones took the (relatively) bold step of responding directly to an anonymous employee’s complaint that scored coverage on Gawker, that bastion of objective reporting on the business world.

He did it in a LinkedIn “influencer” post with the blunt title “The Truth Hurts“, and it got a lot of attention: a quarter of a million views and several thousand likes/shares.

In an interview with AdAge that went live last night, he explained why he decided to address the problem in this way–which gives us an opportunity ask whether the strategy worked.

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Why Are There No Openly Gay Fortune 500 CEOs?

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Claire Cain Miller of The New York Times asked a very important question this morning: how did professional football–the very epitome of a traditional industry averse to change–embrace an openly gay personality before corporate America?

Her point is that, despite widely-accepted rumors about certain executives at certain tech companies, not one of the nation’s 1,000 biggest businesses has an openly gay CEO.

We asked Howard Bragman, Chairman of Fifteen Minutes PRwho happens to represent Michael Sam–for his take on the issue.

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Former Bush Administration Official to Lead Corporate Comms for Alibaba

Jim_wilkinson_OurLeadershipYou’ve heard a bit of noise about Alibaba recently, no? The Chinese search/e-commerce giant that is, from what we can tell, a mashup of Amazon, Google and eBay. It’s basically the biggest name in Chinese tech, and it’s about to go public in what should be one of Wall Street’s biggest deals in recent years.

Today the company announced a shrewd move: it has hired James R. Wilkinson, a former senior Treasury Department official with the George W. Bush administration, as its “head of international corporate affairs.”

He served advisory/chief of staff roles in the offices of both Treasury head Henry Paulson and secretary of state Condoleeza Rice.

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