Amazon apologized for a snarky tweet and acknowledged its delivery drivers do pee in bottles

Parcels are stored in a truck in a logistics centre of the mail order company Amazon.
Parcels are stored in a truck in a logistics centre of the mail order company Amazon.

  • Amazon issued an apology Friday to Rep. Mark Pocan for a tweet it made last week.
  • In the tweet, Amazon denied its workers pee in bottles, despite it being a well-known occurrence.
  • Amazon said their tweet was inaccurate and that delivery drivers do pee in bottles sometimes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon apologized Friday for a snide tweet it sent last week denying the well-documented occurrence of its delivery drivers peeing in bottles while on the job.

The tweet was a response to Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan of California, who first said: “Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles.”

Amazon replied: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us.”

But in an apology posted to the Amazon News site, Amazon acknowledged their tweet was “incorrect.”

Read more: Frustrated Amazon employees rip on the company for encouraging them to come back to the office

“This was an own-goal, we’re unhappy about it, and we owe an apology to Representative Pocan,” the post said.

Amazon said the tweet “did not contemplate our large driver population and instead wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centers,” adding that their fulfillment centers have “dozens” of bathrooms and employees are free to use them “any time.”

It also said drivers have trouble finding restrooms due to traffic and being on rural routes, and that the issue has been exacerbated by closed public bathrooms during the pandemic.

In 2018, Insider’s Hayley Peterson reported accounts of Amazon drivers urinating in bottles. Current and former drivers recently told Insider it was part of the job because “you just didn’t really have time to go to the bathroom.”

In the apology, Amazon said it was a “long-standing, industry-wide issue and is not specific to Amazon,” but that the company will look for ways to solve it. The post also included many tweets of people saying delivery drivers who work for companies other than Amazon also pee in bottles while on the job.

Amazon’s tweet denying workers peed in bottles came days before an important unionization vote at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, and the apology and acknowledgment come days after the vote already occurred. The results of the vote, which took place Monday, may not be known for days or weeks.

The combative tweet was one of several sent by Amazon accounts ahead of the union vote.

“I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace,” said Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer unit, in response to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ plans to meet with the workers in Alabama.

The Amazon News account also lashed out at Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a tweet after she accused the company of exploiting loopholes to pay low taxes.

“You make the tax laws @SenWarren; we just follow them,” the tweet said. “If you don’t like the laws you’ve created, by all means, change them.”

Vox reported the aggressive public-relations strategy was a result of CEO Jeff Bezos telling executives to “fight back” against critics.

The apology on Friday said the company “will continue to speak out when misrepresented, but we will also work hard to always be accurate.”

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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A leaked Amazon document reveals what its army of warehouse workers are and aren’t allowed to say on social media

Amazon warehouse staff
  • Amazon’s army of warehouse employees trained to defend the company on Twitter is at it again.
  • The employee accounts follow a standard format, and tend to resurface amid negative press coverage.
  • A newly leaked Amazon document reveals what the workers are and aren’t allowed to discuss.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Amazon’s army of warehouse workers paid to be on Twitter is notorious for showing up in conversations with the intent of defending Amazon.

The workers are also notorious for having eerily robotic speech patterns.

“I can assure you that I’m a real account,” a recent response from one such worker said. “I’m part of a program that lets me come on here & have conversations about what working for Amazon has been like for me. I’d like to know why you feel we are treated/paid bad. I’ve been so happy here & the pay/benefits are great.”

There’s a good reason for those speech patterns, according to a leaked Amazon document obtained by The Intercept. Amazon has a set of guidelines for what those employees can and cannot say, and even offers examples of how to respond.

First and foremost is that “FCAs,” or “Fulfillment Center Ambassadors,” cannot respond to anything regarding unionization, according to the document.

That’s particularly notable given this week’s unionization vote at an Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama. If it passes, it would be the first major union of Amazon workers.

Additionally, they can’t respond to direct media requests without approval from Amazon’s public relations department. They are also barred from responding to “compound” criticisms, or a tweet that also contains a topic that Amazon PR has not approved the FCAs to comment on.

The document offers an example of a tweet that FCAs should not respond to based on such criteria: “@Amazon why are you still advertising on breitbart?! Between that and barely paying your employees, I’m ready to quit shopping with you,” the example said.

Similarly enlightening, the document offers a variety of examples of the type of social media posts that FC Ambassadors should interact with – and the kind of responses the company finds appropriate.

The first example directly addresses the years-long reports from Amazon workers that they have to pee in bottles during shifts to save time: “Example: ‘Daily Sun: Amazon employees forced to urinate in bottles during their shift’.”

Amazon driver thumb pee bottle
An Amazon driver shared this photo with Insider of a bottle of pee inside a delivery van last week.

The example response in the document reads almost exactly like some of the responses from FC Ambassadors.

“No, that’s not right,” the example says. “I worked in an Amazon FC for over four years and never saw anyone urinate in a bottle. There are easily accessible bathrooms in every one of our buildings I’ve ever been in.”

Amazon’s FC Ambassador program isn’t new.

Back in 2018, Amazon admitted to paying a small army of employees to tweet positive things about the company. The document obtained by The Intercept is from 2018, when the program was formed under the code name “Veritas” (Latin for “truth).

It established the foundation of the program, and its purpose: “To address speculation and false assertions in social media and online forums about the quality of the FC associate experience, we are creating a new social team staffed with active, tenured FC employees, who will be empowered to respond in polite – but blunt – ways to every untruth,” the document says.

FC Ambassadors are paid the same hourly rate they get for their warehouse work, Amazon says, and it’s an “entirely voluntary” program.

Since the program started in 2018, a variety of accounts originally associated with it have been deactivated. And in the last few weeks, a handful of new FC accounts have sprung up as reports surfaced once again of employees having to urinate in bottles to preserve work time. The vast majority of FC Ambassador replies on social media specifically address these reports.

When reached for comment, Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski said: “FC Ambassadors are employees who work in our fulfillment centers and choose to share their personal experience – the FC ambassador program helps show what it’s actually like inside our fulfillment centers, along with the public tours we provide. We encourage anyone who wants to see for themselves to sign up for a tour at www.amazonfctours.com.”

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Deutsch LA doubles referral bonuses for Black candidates

Hi and welcome to Insider Advertising for April 1. I’m senior advertising reporter Lauren Johnson, and here’s what’s going on:

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IPG agency Deutsch is doubling its referral bonuses for Black candidates as the ad industry struggles with diversity

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Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

NY Gov. Cuomo is hunting for crisis PR help as he battles negative press

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Animal welfare non-profit Lady Freethinker found dozens of videos on Facebook showing animals placed in distressing staged rescue scenarios.

Facebook is hosting animal abuse content disguised as rescues – and some of the videos have racked up millions of views

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Amazon’s recent spate of Twitter feuds happened because Jeff Bezos told execs to ‘fight back’ against critics, report says

Jeff bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

  • Amazon accounts sent combative tweets at Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren last week.
  • Vox reported Jeff Bezos had told executives they weren’t doing enough to fight back against critics.
  • The aggressive tweets came amid an important unionization vote at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon social media accounts made headlines last week for lashing out at politicians like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and even for denying claims about its working conditions that have been reported multiple times.

Apparently, it was at the request of CEO Jeff Bezos, who told company executives they weren’t doing enough to fight back against the critics, according to Vox’s Recode.

The aggressive PR strategy is playing out as 6,000 Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama vote over whether or not to unionize, with results expected this week. Experts told Insider’s Kate Taylor the vote could have a huge impact on Amazon as a whole and on labor in the US.

Recode reported Sunday that Bezos was unhappy with negative reports about the company he considered false or misleading and that he was specifically displeased with how company leaders were responding to them. The result seemed to be a string of combative tweets.

Insider has reached out to Amazon for comment.

On Wednesday, after Bernie Sanders announced plans to visit an Amazon warehouse in Alabama to meet with workers amid their unionization efforts, a top Amazon executive called him out in a tweet.

“I welcome @SenSanders to Birmingham and appreciate his push for a progressive workplace. I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace,” said Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer unit.

He followed up the next day with another attack, asking why Sanders’ state of Vermont “only” has a minimum wage of $11.75 and that the senator “should save his finger wagging lecture until after he actually delivers in his own backyard.”

Amazon changed its minimum wage to $15 in 2018 in response to critics, which included Sanders.

Amazon also took a shot at Warren on Twitter on Thursday after she said companies like Amazon “exploit loopholes” in order to pay lower taxes.

“You make the tax laws @SenWarren; we just follow them. If you don’t like the laws you’ve created, by all means, change them,” a tweet from the Amazon News account said.

The same account tweeted Wednesday in response to a tweet about Amazon employees peeing in water bottles while on the job.

“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us,” it said.

As Insider first reported in 2018, Amazon delivery drivers have said they peed in bottles while on the job because they did not have enough time to use a bathroom.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Everything to know about the public relations industry, from pay and hiring to growth areas

Huawei China
Huawei, facing criticism over its expansion plans, hired Ruder Finn to handle its US PR.

  • PR firms are investing in data and analytics and expanding into areas like advertising and ecommerce.
  • They’re also taking advantage of booming areas like financial communications and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Insider compiled this guide to how the field is changing for people looking to grow their PR business or break into it.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The public relations industry is going through big changes as PR firms invest more in data and analytics to prove the value of their services to clients and fend off competition.

They’re also expanding into hot new areas like creative, digital, and ecommerce services.

Some have begun rehiring and restoring pay cuts after making cutbacks in the pandemic and taking advantage of booming areas like financial communications and diversity, equity, and inclusion, creating lucrative if high-pressure jobs.

Business Insider has been tracking all these trends at some of the largest PR firms including Edelman, Weber Shandwick, and Sard Verbinnen, and rounded up our coverage, including the hot practice areas that are boosting firms’ revenue, how to get hired, and compensation.

Below are resources to guide people looking to learn about the industry, grow their existing PR businesses, or break into the field.

Hiring, pay trends

The PR industry employed around 270,000 people in the US as of 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It employs people who work in-house at brands as well as agencies of all sizes.

PR firms have cut hundreds of jobs in the downturn, but the field remains high-paying and intensely competitive. Recruiters still see growing opportunities in pharma, tech, healthcare communications.

PR salaries can vary widely. A VP at privately-held consulting and PR firm Teneo can earn $205,000, while the same role at Publicis’ MSL brings in a base salary of $165,000.

Read more: PR industry salaries revealed: How much top firms like Teneo, BCW, and FTI pay employees, from consultants to managing directors

How to get a job at PR giant Edelman and what to expect if you land an interview, according to the company’s recruiters

Meet 12 top public relations recruiters to know right now

What it takes to get high-paying jobs at strategic consulting firms like Finsbury and Kekst CNC, from handling tricky questions to nailing writing tests

Some areas are thriving in the downturn

While the industry took a hit in the downturn, CEOs of some of the biggest firms like Edelman, BCW, and FleishmanHillard see their businesses benefitting as new pitches pick up and companies seek help with crisis situations and communicating to the public and their workforces about office reopening and diversity and inclusion issues.

PR itself has come under scrutiny along with other industries for falling short when it comes to diversity leading some to pledge to hire more people of color, among other steps.

Read more: A PR trade group representing firms including Weber Shandwick and FleishmanHillard is embroiled in disagreements over whether firms should have to reveal how diverse their workforce is and pledge to hiring people of color

The world’s two largest PR firms, Edelman and Weber Shandwick, pledged to hire more people of color in senior positions

The Black Lives Matter movement has been an unavoidable subject for the C-suite – and PR giants are reaping the benefits

Internal communications business is booming for PR firms like Edelman, Prosek, and Kekst CNC as CEOs scramble to reassure remote workforces and plan for a return to the office

Insiders at Omnicom agency GMMB say the workplace is rife with ‘systemic’ racism, where people of color are tokenized and treated like ‘the help’

Firms are gearing up to take share from other industries

Some firms are also gearing up to take market share from advertising and management consulting companies, arguing that they can help clients deal with crises and promote brands while people may not be receptive to traditional advertising.

Among the most aggressive in this area is Edelman, which has built a 600-person staff of creatives including adland vets like Leo Burnett’s Judy John and McCann’s Lee Maicon to expand into advertising services.

Read more: Public relations heavyweight Edelman has quietly built a 600-person creative team and says it’s becoming a ‘serious alternative’ to ad agencies, winning clients like Ikea and Tazo

CEOs of PR firms like Edelman and BCW reveal why they’re focused on winning business from advertising and consulting companies coming out of the pandemic.

Strategic communications is a growth area

A lucrative but less understood niche is strategic communications, which involves crisis, litigation, financial, and other high-stakes public relations. It comprises firms like Finsbury, Kekst CNC, and Gladstone Place Partners, which have worked on crises like WeWork’s and blockbuster mergers like Disney-Fox.

These firms seek people who thrive under pressure and use the interview process to test job candidates’ intellectual curiosity, commitment to their job, and if they’re good culture fits.

Read more: Meet 18 top PR pros that companies like SoFi and Talkspace are turning to in the SPAC IPO craze

PR firm Bevel hired a Goldman Sachs alum to cash in on the SPAC craze and win market share from financial communications heavyweights

Meet PR exec Jennifer Prosek, who built a $60 million business spinning for clients like Goldman Sachs and The Carlyle Group, and now faces her biggest challenge yet

These are the top 15 financial public relations pros CEOs call when their companies are on fire

PR firms like Joele Frank and Sard Verbinnen are seeing a windfall from bankruptcy cases but some risk being sued by former clients – here’s how agencies can protect themselves

PR giants like Edelman and Sard Verbinnen are seeing a surge in demand as companies seek to minimize damage from the coronavirus pandemic

How technology is changing PR

Public relations pros are facing increased pressure to prove the value of their services to clients.

These pressures have given rise to a $4.5 billion communications software industry that helps PR pros do things like monitor news coverage and social media, provide accurate measurements, and identify influencers and journalists.

Some PR firms like Edelman and MSL have responded by developing their own tools to monitor news and track the impact of PR for clients like Procter & Gamble and Cadillac.

Read more: The top 27 software companies serving the public relations industry

PR agencies are beefing up their data services to keep consulting firms like Deloitte and Accenture from eating their lunch

PR giant MSL breaks down how it’s using tech tools to prove its work drives results for clients like P&G and Cadillac

Cision and Meltwater, the two largest PR software companies, are planning a merger, and the DoJ has explored whether it would hurt competition

A year after PR giant Edelman struck a ‘first of its kind’ partnership with Cision, the deal is no longer exclusive

Companies are under fire for climate change. PR firm APCO Worldwide just partnered with a data startup to help them control the reputation risk.

Public relations giant Edelman is poaching execs from WPP, Google, and others to build a data analytics powerhouse

Omnicom is boosting its data arm with a new tool to convince skeptics that PR can drive business results

Healthcare marketing giant W2O just snapped up two more companies as it seeks to take on consultancies like Accenture and Cognizant

Read the original article on Business Insider

Waze veers off course for advertisers

Good morning and welcome to Insider Advertising for February 26. I’m deputy editor Lucia Moses, filling in for Lauren Johnson, and here’s what’s going on:

If this email was forwarded to you, sign up here for your daily insider’s guide to advertising and media.

Tips, comments, suggestions? Drop me a line at LMoses@insider.com or on Twitter at @lmoses.


Waze app
The Waze app is available in Europe, but depending on the country may face certain feature restrictions and less accurate maps.

Ad buyers and analysts are questioning Waze’s future with the pandemic decimating its business and its longtime CEO gone

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Some podcast hosts are making thousands of dollars a year charging guests to appear on their shows

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The 59 most important tech reporters every public relations pro should know

Technology is one of the most dynamic beats in journalism today, with outlets like The Washington Post expanding their tech teams and new publications like Protocol and standalone newsletters launching.

But keeping track of these journalists and what they cover is difficult for public relations pros, given how quickly coverage areas change.

Sean Czarnecki ran down 59 of the most influential tech reporters working today who are known for their authoritative and impactful scoops, investigations, and profiles.

Read more here.


Other stories we’re reading:

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading, and remember you can sign up for this daily newsletter here!

– Lucia

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