How Starbucks Utilizes Effective Positive Public Relations Strategies
The world’s largest coffee retailer’s ground-breaking PR strategies
By: Natalie Williamson
Starbucks was first established in 1971 in Seattle, Washington and now has nearly 35,000 stores worldwide. From essential public relations components such as crisis communication, media relations, and innovative campaigns, Starbucks continues to remain number one as the world’s largest coffee retailer. According to Rebecca Poynter, Instructor of JOUR 4460, public relations can be defined as “positive, proactive, strategic public relations actions by an organization which build goodwill with audiences, support the brand, and maintain a positive reputation.” Starbucks continues to meet this definition and defy other coffee brands with its innovative public relations strategies.
Starbucks has continued to show effective crisis communication. According to an article published in Forbes, Starbucks continues to show exquisite crisis communication. From crisis such as the red cup and green cup campaigns to two Black men being arrested for asking to use a Starbucks restroom, Starbucks has always showed proactive and effective crisis communication responses. An exemplary instance of this is their response to the 2019 arrest of two Black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks. Starbucks took responsibility in a statement and proceeded to close over 8,000 stores to provide employees with racial bias training. Although, arguably closing the stores cost the brand millions of dollars, it was a step in the right direction showing a solution and apology in response.
Unique Campaigns and Partnerships
Starbucks is one of the most followed fast-food chains trailing behind McDonalds. Starbucks currently has 66,850,000 followers on platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok while McDonalds leads with 92,531,000 total followers on those platforms. Starbucks has continued to produce engaging content on all platforms by including partnerships with influencers and baristas alike. One of the most unique partnership programs is their recent partnership with Delta Airlines. This partnership allows Starbucks Reward members to link their rewards account with their Delta SkyMiles account to earn rewards on both platforms. Both Starbucks and Delta have loyalty rewards programs that are respected and praiseworthy. This strategic partnership shows the creative, evolving steps Starbucks is willing to take to continue to show effective public relations strategies, both on social media and off.
Starbucks Voice of Diversity and Inclusion
On the Starbucks website, there are multiple articles that show their voice on important topics, such as articles about diversity and articles about inclusion. An important PR strategy that brands can adopt is allowing your website to set the tone and voice for your organization and Starbucks is a prime example of this. On their press release tab, they include timelines and policies to accurately paint the picture of how they are proactive and progressive. The mission of Starbucks is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”
Positive Proactive Public Relations
Starbucks continues to utilize tactical public relations strategies to maintain their reputation and build goodwill with audiences while growing their brand and impact. Through perpetually producing press releases on their website to attention-grabbing partnerships, Starbucks is undoubtedly employing tactical public relations strategies that matter. Their ideal crisis communication has proceeded to benefit their communities and stockholders time and time again. Therefore, Starbucks meets the definition of public relations without question.
About the Author
Natalie Williamson is a journalism student at the University of North Texas. Williamson has a concentration in Public Relations and is expected to graduate with her bachelors degree in journalism PR in December of 2022.
Starbucks (2022, August 1). Starbucks equity and inclusion timeline. Starbucks Stories. Retrieved October 15, 2022, from https://stories.starbucks.com/press/2022/starbucks-equity-and-inclusion-timeline/
Starbucks (2022, March 14). Starbucks paves way for more inclusive and accessible experiences in stores around the world. Starbucks Stories. Retrieved October 15, 2022, from https://stories.starbucks.com/press/2022/starbucks-paves-way-for-more-inclusive-and-accessible-experiences-in-stores-around-the-world/
Hyken, S. (2018, August 6). Starbucks gets an A in crisis management. Forbes. Retrieved October 15, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2018/05/10/starbucks-gets-an-a-in-crisis-management/?sh=bbf6e107998c