In Brief: VR Tech at Walmart; Brands on 'Stranger Things'

August 2019
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Americans See Disinformation as Major Problem, IPR Survey Finds

According to the “2019 IPR Disinformation in Society Report” published by the Institute for Public Relations, 63 percent of Americans surveyed see disinformation as a “major” problem, on par with gun violence (also cited by 63 percent).

The online survey of 2,200 adults also examined American attitudes toward sources and their role in spreading disinformation. Respondents placed the most trust in college professors (46 percent) and journalists (45 percent). Fewer Americans trust PR professionals (26 percent), CEOs (22 percent) and marketers/advertisers (20 percent).

A majority of Americans said marketers and advertisers were “very” responsible for spreading disinformation (65 percent), followed by journalists (63 percent) and PR professionals (58 percent). These numbers must be of concern to all communicators and citizens, said Debra Peterson, APR, PRSA’s 2019 chair.

“PR professionals are at the forefront of efforts to fight disinformation because the core of our work, every day, involves communicating effectively and honestly to bring people together, promote understanding and support informed decision-making. Disinformation is confusing and should be exposed clearly, precisely and factually,” she said. “Ethical, honest PR professionals follow the PRSA Code of Ethics and never mislead or alter facts.”

Walmart Using Virtual Reality to Evaluate Potential Managers

Walmart is strapping virtual-reality headsets onto employees seeking higher-paying management jobs, to see how they respond to potential scenarios such as angry shoppers, messy aisles or underperforming workers.

As The Wall Street Journal reported, VR training is becoming more common, but Walmart’s use of the technology is significant because it helps determine hires, raises and demotions.

Walmart has given VR assessments to over 10,000 of its workers as part of a new structure that reduces the number of managers. Management hopefuls also undergo more traditional evaluations.

The company is moving toward also using VR to capture data on a worker’s body movements and attention. But some training experts caution that using such data to predict an employee’s potential could fall short if workers aren’t given other ways to prove their worth.

Brands Seeking ‘Stranger Things’ Buzz Might Become ‘Annoying Things’

The science fiction hit “Stranger Things” started its third season July 4 on Netflix, but brand tie-ins for the show set in 1985 were already rampant in June. Brands jumping to associate themselves with “Stranger Things” have included BMX bikes, with its throwback “Mongoose” model and 1985’s ill-fated but suddenly relevant New Coke.

But brand exploitation of the show’s 1985 nostalgia risks undermining audience enjoyment, which is a problem for marketers, Fast Company reported. For any blockbuster movie or TV show, only one or two marketing efforts stand a chance of breaking through the cultural clutter, the post said. Fifth and sixth brand partners will almost certainly be overlooked or forgotten.

During season one of “Stranger Things,” Kellogg’s Eggo product-placement worked because the show’s character named Eleven was always hankering for the frozen waffles, making them part of the story. By season two, however, Kellogg’s “Stranger Things” recipes, DIY projects and web-browser extension for Google Chrome seemed like hungry opportunism, critics contend.

How to Conquer an Everest of Emails After Your Vacation

Vacation’s over and you’re back to work, faced with a mountain of unread emails. But as Lifehacker offers, there are ways to prevent an inbox avalanche. For starters, keep your email auto-responder on during your first day back in the office and act as if you’re still away.

While you relaxed on vacation, email newsletters piled to great heights in your inbox. Most of them are optional and require no action from you, so move them all to a separate folder. This way, you’ll avoid the risk of clicking on one newsletter, getting bogged down in it and losing your inbox-clearing momentum.

Some emails require long replies or significant work before you can archive them. They tend to fester in your inbox while you address the easier ones. To reduce stress for yourself and those awaiting your response, send quick “Working on this!” replies. People will at least know you’re paying attention, and you won’t receive those annoying “just checking in” follow-up messages. — Greg Beaubien

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