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What Starbucks Can Teach Us About PR

starbucks-1069758_960_720There is nothing like a really good cup of coffee, especially when it is served in a classic white and green cup. When I started at MCCI, one of the first things I did was pull up my Starbucks app and find the closest location: two blocks away from our office. It was on one of these visits that it occurred to me that Starbucks has a lot to offer in the way of PR, besides the occasional coffee break… Here are a few Starbucks PR values I’ve observed:

  • Do what is best for the company. Last month Starbucks announced a change in its rewards program. According to The Guardian, someone would now have to spend at least $62.50 before they can receive a free item (compared to the current average of $24). This, of course, was initially not well-received. It was soon realized however, that this revision would mostly apply to non-frequent purchasers. The company may be worth about $100 billion, but Starbucks still has to make money.
  • Always put the customer first. Starbucks reaches out to its customers and staff frequently and achieves positive results. For example, the organization has partnered with several other companies, (such as Lyft, Match.com and Target,) for mutual promotions. More recently, Starbucks teamed up with Democracy Works Inc. to boost the voter turnout. Not to mention the company gives consumers free apps and music every week. This keeps its customers coming back and puts the company a step above other coffee chains.
  • Excellent crisis management: Remember the “War on Christmas” last holiday season? Starbucks’ holiday cups have historically caused excitement but this year there was backlash. On the sunny side, it meant that this issue gained significant media coverage/engagement. Starbucks reported that within the first 48 hours of the holiday cups being released, a photo of one was shared on Instagram every 14 seconds.

Starbucks could probably get away without any PR or marketing and still be okay- as long as their customers receive their caffeine fix – and yet they still find creative ways to further promote and expand their brand.


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