P&O, Starbucks unionization, and March Madness: Daily spotlights for the week of March 21st

March 25, 2022

Written by Haley Corzo

Welcome to the NewsWhip Daily spotlight round-up for the week of March 21st. This week, P&O Ferries’ ongoing comms crisis, and March Madness stars make NIL deals for the first time.

If you’d like to subscribe to the newsletter itself, you can do that here.

Mar 21st: P&O Ferries fires hundreds of workers

Last week, P&O Ferries provoked a communications crisis by stopping its ships sailing and made hundreds of workers redundant.

This has turned into a multi-day conversation, with thousands of engagements per day, which is still ongoing. There have been more than 10k articles written about P&O in the last few days, with more than 500k engagements, the vast majority of which were with stories about the firings.

chart of P&O

The most engaged stories were from the BBC, and focused on the outrage felt by the public at the sackings.

Mar 22nd: Biden warns of cyber attacks

Yesterday, the Biden administration warned of potential pending cyberattacks as part of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying that attacks could be “consequential.”

The media and public immediately paid attention, with his comments being covered more than a thousand times in the press, and those articles being engaged with almost 80k times.

chart of Biden

The top coverage came from Politico with 11k engagements, while Joe Biden’s Facebook account also disseminated the message with 5k engagements.

Mar 23rd: Starbucks unionization generates continued interest

Starbucks has been experiencing a wave of unionization at the beginning of 2022, and it is something that has captured the public and media interest in a big way.

Since the beginning of January, there have been more than five thousand articles written about unionizations within the company, and almost a million engagements with those articles.

chart of starbucks

The biggest peaks came in public interest when a Cheektowaga Starbucks unionized on January 11th, when there were petitions in more than 50 stores on February 1st, and when multiple stores voted to unionize on March 10th. The biggest peak came on February 23rd, when the company missed a deadline to delay a vote by eight minutes.

Mar 24th: As Russia invades Ukraine, social media users “fly to quality”

A swift drop late last month in social media engagement with content from “Iffy” sources has prompted the University of Michigan‘s Center for Social Media Responsibility researchers to ask whether Facebook and Twitter users have been experiencing a “flight to news quality,” or at least a flight away from less trustworthy sites, during that time—and if so, why.

chart of iffy news

For the week ending February 14, 8.3% of the engagement with the most popular URLs on Facebook was dedicated to content from Iffy sites, and on Twitter this percentage was 8.4%. For the week ending February 28, the numbers dropped to 5.9% and 5.4%, respectively—almost a 30% drop on Facebook and more than a 35% drop on Twitter.

The research from CSMR suggests these trends may be influenced in part by media coverage of the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.

You can read the full blog about the flight to quality here.

Mar 25th: March Madness stars cash in on brand partnerships for the first time

Last year Drew Timme played a chief role in Gonzaga’s success during March Madness, helping to lead the Bulldogs to the championship game with his 6’10 frame and conspicuous mustache. He’s back again this year, but this time around that famous mustache has led to some big deals with brands off the court.

chart of march madness

In June of 2021 the Supreme Court ruled that student athletes were now allowed to be compensated for their names, images, and likeness (NIL), which the NCAA had previously restricted. The decision has since transformed athletes from all collegiate sports into influencers for big and small brands alike, and for the first time ever March Madness is part of that mix. 

We explored these partnerships to see how they’re generating engagement online in our latest blog

That’s all for this week, but don’t forget you can subscribe to the NewsWhip Daily to receive the top predicted stories of the morning and every spotlight delivered straight to your inbox.

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