Denver PR Blog


Starbucks Shows it Takes Discrimination Seriously
April 18, 2018, 6:35 pm
Filed under: Crisis Communications, Public Relations

Starbucks logoBy now, you have no doubt seen the news that two African-American men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks Thursday. The men were waiting for a friend when they were asked to leave because they hadn’t yet purchased anything, a request that appears to run counter to the company’s policy.

The incident sparked outrage and protest amid accusations that race was at the heart of the incident – had the two men been white, for example, it is almost certain the police would not have been called.

Give Starbucks’ senior management and crisis communications teams credit for neutralizing a delicate situation. The company recognized immediately that it had a highly charged and potentially combustible issue on its hands, and its reaction has been impressive. Among its responses:

  • Starbucks immediately acknowledged the issue on social media and promised to look into the issue.
  • Once Starbucks quickly determined it was in the wrong, CEO Kevin Johnson personally apologized to the men. Johnson also apologized publicly in written and video statements that were posted to the company’s social media platforms.
  • Johnson traveled to Philadelphia and spent several days listening face-to-face to members of the community.
  • Starbucks reassigned the store employee who called the police.
  • The company announced that it will close all 8,000 of its U.S. stores on May 29 to conduct racial-bias education training for nearly 175,000 employees. Additionally, Starbucks shared that the curriculum for that training will be created in collaboration with some of the leading experts on addressing racial bias.

Starbucks followed the PR crisis playbook closely, and it has been incredibly effective at neutralizing this crisis. It didn’t just react, it leaned toward overreacting. Protesters in Philadelphia (and nationally) have been trying to leverage this situation into something bigger, but Starbucks has been a step ahead of them from the beginning.

Additionally, Starbucks has signaled to its socially conscious customer base that it shares their inherent values and is more than willing to be a leader in the fight for principles such as racial equality and respect for all individuals.



Denver PRSA Conference Adds ‘Third Rail’ Session
April 6, 2018, 8:55 am
Filed under: Public Relations

This year’s PRSA Western District Conference will dedicate a session to the third-rail of public discourse: seemingly untouchable topics such as gun control, immigration, and climate change.

PRSA Colorado is providing a rare opportunity to test and hone skills for discussing sensitive topics at the PRSA Western District Conference coming up April 11-13. Attendees will be invited to select a topic from a list taken from today’s headlines and have a respectful conversation about it with someone who may have a different point of view.

Those who want to participate (it’s strictly voluntary), will be invited to choose one or more of these topics:

  • Gun policy
  • Immigration
  • Health care
  • Climate change
  • Trade tariffs
  • Role of the press – advocates or objective observers?

Then they’ll be invited to think of up to three points to describe their opinions on the topic. Opinions might be based on:

  • Current events
  • News analysis
  • Personal experience
  • Emotional reaction
  • Family history or cultural background
  • Reading/research
  • Opinions of others you respect
  • What you see on social media
  • Discussions with friends

We’ll explain more about the mechanics when attendees sign in, but they can prepare now by watching this TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/celeste_headlee_10_ways_to_have_a_better_conversation

PR Matters. And conversation matters. This activity is one way PRSA Colorado is helping our profession raise the level of discourse.

 

 



Great Moments in Journalism, Opening Day Edition
April 6, 2018, 8:40 am
Filed under: Denver Post, Public Relations

Today’s Denver Post features an Opening Day article on the Colorado … Phillies?

Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 8.35.47 AM

Update: The Denver Post has acknowledged the photo mistake.