Posts Tagged 'Starbuck’s'

Starbucks, Pushing the Bounds of CSR: Is That a Good Thing?

We knew when we first read about it, that we’d write a post about it. Howard Schultz and Starbucks had done it again—proven to be an agenda-setter on public engagement and corporate social responsibility (CSR). No, we’re not talking about the #RaceTogether initiative—but we’re including our thoughts on that in this post too! The impetus really began with Starbucks’s salute to military veterans in its For Love of Country recognition.Starbucks
For Love of Country may not be as familiar as Race Together, but it predates and overlaps with the much ballyhooed #RaceTogether. For those who may have missed it, Starbucks joined forces with journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran to produce a book and related advertising and media push to herald not only the courageous service of military veterans, but to also raise some prickly social issues–namely, who fights our wars in America’s all-volunteer army (and who doesn’t), and how those who do are acknowledged for their service.  (Not nearly meaningfully and substantively enough by the rest of us.)

We were impressed that Schultz, as a corporate leader, not only stepped out front on this sensitive topic, but then went one step further—in the minds of many, one step too far—by prodding us to talk about the contentious issue of “race.”

Starbucks tweet

 

Whether you thought well or ill or the #RaceTogether effort, or even question a company raising pangs of consciousness about the social justice of an all-volunteer army, or any other societal woe, we think there’s a lot to be gained by companies taking leadership on social issues.

There’s a long history of companies doing well by doing good. You’ve read some of our posts on Henry Ford and a whole array of others before and since who’ve put their money and their mouths to lead or join important social and civic conversations. Indeed, it’s well established that a socially active or PR savvy CEO brings added value to a company and even an industry

As further affirmation, just look at what tech moguls were able to help accomplish when they found their collective voice against sex bias and discrimination in #Indiana.

So we think it’s a good thing that CEOs like Howard Schultz embark on campaigns that remind us that companies share  our social pains and that, even better, they have the means to affect changes that make things better for us all. We all know that companies often engage their collective voices behind closed doors to secretly lobby for things they believe represent their corporate interests. We think it’s time more CEOs join the public dialogue about the things more enduring and sustaining that impact us all. Wanna’ talk about #RaceTogether? We’re game. And while we’re at it, let’s talk about For Love of Country, too!
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Starbucks’ Cause Marketing & CSR: Two Views

Starbucks logoGenerally speaking, we like Starbucks corporate style, and we’ve given them a few shoutouts in previous posts for providing a good example in cause-related marketing and corporate social responsibility (CSR). But, like many companies, they haven’t always met our expectations in every area. So, to balance the perspective, we’re reblogging a post that offers potentially another view of Starbucks. This doesn’t mean we’ve changed our view of Starbucks; we still think the company’s miles ahead of most companies in social listening, social marketing, and CSR. But, fair is fair, and we  provide this post to keep you informed to make up your own mind. Let us know what you think.

“It is with interest that I saw with the US Government shut down continuing in Washington D.C. that Starbucks have started a campaign to facilitate change in our Nation’s capital. They are offering a free coffee to anyone who buys their fellowman their favourite drink in one of their stores.

My initial thought was this was good and I was pleased they cared enough about this issue to start this promotion. I considered that this shows their social responsibility by getting involved and trying to help… or are they?”

Read more Starbucks: Real Concern or Just Good Marketing? http://linkd.in/17DigzD

And, in case you haven’t encountered it yet, here’s an AdWeek write-up of Starbucks’ latest campaign.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Starbucks Redux and Other Updates

Did you notice? Have you tasted it yet?  While others are writing about Starbucks serving beer and wine, we note that CEO Howard Schultz has upped the ante on his Creating Jobs for America corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign by increasing the campaign’s visibility in stores, and even temporarily branding the effort with its own custom brew, Indivisible.

We wrote about this CSR campaign after it was  launched in November, 2011.  We can only repeat our endorsement of a program, and a movement, whose time has come.

Since we first wrote about Create Jobs for America, Starbucks and its customers and partners have raised $11.5 million to help create jobs in the US.

What’s even better is that the $11.5 million investment has been leveraged to generate more than $80 million in loans to help create and maintain jobs in underserved American communities.

It should be duly noted that Starbucks and its foundation hasn’t accomplished this alone. Along with customers, other partners include Citi Community Development and Citi Foundation, which recently contributed $1 million to the effort, and the Opportunity Finance Network.

In our earlier post we acknowledged Schultz’s chutzpah in launching this CSR effort by titling our post,“Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is …” Since then, it’s clear this has become an even more collective effort, sparked with a new burst of  purpose and audacity.

We encourage all to continue press forward in this important social responsibility initiative. For more info, visit:
http://www.createjobsforusa.org/on/demandware.store/Sites-Createjobsusa-Site/default/Default-Start?gclid=COyA6ZGT8bACFYEKKgodsWwQWw

Speaking of Corporate Social Responsibility …

We’ve also blogged and tweeted  about Panera Bread and its growing social responsibility experiment, the Pay-What-You-Can-Cafes. We’re very pleased at the announcement that they’re converting one of their restaurants in our own backyard (Chicago) to the pay-what you can model.

We’ve said it warms our hearts when companies show that “they get it” by identifying signature corporate-giving-back efforts that not only advance their business model, but also address major social issues—in this case, poverty,  hunger, and even job training. For more details, check out Panera’s website, http://paneracares.org/what-we-do/.

A final note, while this campaign is new to us, Chevron recently garnered headlines for its “grow manufacturing jobs initiatives.” The “We Agree” campaign outlines the company’s social responsibility efforts on a variety of fronts, most particularly its $8 billion in energy production projects and jobs. Here, again, a highlight of the campaign is creating strategic partnerships to build collective action, and leverage resources for even greater impact.

Check it out for yourself. Here’s where you can find more information on “We Agree”: http://www.chevron.com/weagree/

What do you think of these CSR campaigns? Heard about others? We want to hear from you. Write us with your feedback here, or send us a Facebook update or tweet, via this post.

Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is–Starbucks’s Howard Schultz

Amid the swarm of scandalous news of late–much of it involving leaders in government, major companies and organizations worldwide–a comparatively quiet effort has been taking shape, and growing, designed to bring pride, leadership and employment back to Americans. (We say quiet, because after an initial flurry, we haven’t heard much more about it in the news.) In fact, the Create Jobs for USA campaign spearheaded by Starbucks’s CEO Howard Schultz is a major bright spot is what appears to be the dismal landscape of corporate America. In our last blog, we called it a game-changer, because at least temporarily, it’s somewhat cooled the divisive political rhetoric and given us a cause nearly all Americans can champion. What began with a PR flourish (full-court newspaper and TV interviews, full-page ads, etc.) is now a bona fide movement and organization. To date, Starbuck’s and its partners, the Opportunity Finance Network, has leveraged more than $6.5 million for the admirable cause of putting American back to work. (The program was kicked off with a reported $5 million investment from the Starbucks Foundation and the rest has been raised from customers through the sale of colorful wristbands at $5 each. This money has gone into a revolving loan fund for small businesses and others providing community-based jobs.

While Schultz and his efforts have come under some criticism from manufacturers (http://www.manufacturing.net/blogs/2011/12/does-starbucks-create-jobs-for-usa) and from unions re: barista wages, Schultz’s initiative and commitment to this larger cause should be commended. Yes, businesses and corporations do good things every day, and for that we can all be thankful: They provide jobs for people and philanthropy for the communities where they operate, and collectively they contribute to the health and well-being of our nation’s economy (for the most part). Yet, as we have seen, they can also do a lot  of harm–need we even recite a list: BP, Countrywide, “Wall Street” firms, Fannie Mae, etc. Typically today, when a major company talks about a bold move, it’s in the wrong direction–layoffs, ethical lapses, political quick-fixes, and scandal-ridden operations. This has been an ongoing since at least 2001, seemingly since the bankruptcy of Enron, and no less likely, even before.

While others may raise questions about the sincerity and commitment of Starbucks’s Create Jobs for USA–mind you, no corporate action impacting the public should go unscrutinized–we should also give kudos when a corporate leader stands up, takes on the prickly issues, and puts his money where his mouth is. Way to go, Howard!

One Practitioner’s Review of 2011 Public Relations

What can we learn about public relations from the fractious events of 2011? Here are our thoughts on lessons provided by the mistakes and success of others.

Our 2011 Public Relations “Roses” & “Brickbats”

Brickbats            

Jerry Sandusky & Penn State: The biggest PR mistake would be to take on Sandusky as a client. Even as this case wends its ugly course through the criminal justice system and the courts, we know that there are some practitioners just chomping at the bit at the opportunity to sign up this high-profile client. Yes, we know, we’ve heard it all before. “A PR agent is like a defense attorney–every miscreant deserves one.” If you believe that, then you should be barred from PR practice. PR will never maintain professional legitimacy if every alleged social predator and sociopath is able to find a “spin doctor” to plead his or her cause. In PR, as in society, some acts must be indefensible.

Anthony Weiner: Where do we even begin with a public figure who has admitted to the arrogant, half-witted behavior of former Congressman Anthony Weiner? We can all be glad that Weiner has graciously retreated from public life–at least for now–to mend his life, and especially his family life. Amen, and all good wishes to him. Perhaps after some amount of reflection and time away from public life, PR specialists will flock to represent what some–at least in New York, say is a really talented guy. Until then, goodbye and good riddance.

Let’s Wait & See

Netflix: What happens when you do the right thing the wrong way? Faced with an inevitably changing business model, Netflix  moved, apparently too aggressively, to spin-off its declining, old-school DVD mail-delivery service from its growing, and increasingly profitable, video downstreaming service. What CEO wouldn’t? Alas, the devil is in the details. Tone-deaf implementation–in the form on a sudden announcement about two different services provided by two different companies–led to a consumer revolt worthy of the reformulated Coke debacle. What should have  been good management judgement nearly ruined this once-popular company. Within months its stock value dropped by two-thirds. Ham-handed implementation and almost no regard to the convenience and versatility that loyal customers valued in this company nearly led to its downfall. Can good PR save Netflix? The company has clearly learned some valuable lessons about its customers and how to communicate with them. (For now, they’ve continued their existing business model, emphasizing the more profitable downstreaming in their marketing; income has rebounded.) Bet they’ve gotten a better sense for how to handle inevitable price increases!

A Rose

Starbucks: In a year, and possibly an era, when there aren’t a lot of large-scale good-news stories coming out of corporate America, we give Starbucks a rose for its Create Jobs for USA corporate social responsibility program. (We’ll be taking a closer look at this in our next blog.) For us, this program was a game-changer. It changed the quality of the discourse about corporate, political and civic leadership in America during a period that has been particularly bleak, divisive, and some might say de-moralizing. The program’s tackled some tough and touchy subjects today: unemployment, concentration of wealth, corporate mismanagement and executive accountability, civil discourse and public leadership, yet it’s championed a cause we can all believe in. Thanks, Howard!


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