Public relations is the key to raising a companies reputation. A companies reputation is the key in making a businesses shelf life lengthy.
In 2015, many companies are focused on reputation management as reputation has now become more important to publics. Companies are using clever social media, PR stunts or even print media to create a buzz. This week, Starbucks created a buzz for all the wrong reasons. Starbucks released the diversity and racial inequality campaign called ‘Race together’ in America. The campaign was launched after national protests in the US over several police killings of black men in New York, Ferguson, and Missouri.
Promoted through baristas writing #RaceTogether on the Starbucks cups of customers showing the company’s effort to promote discussion of racial issues. The cups were always “just the catalyst” for a larger conversation and Starbucks co-produced special sections in USA TODAY and put more stores in minority communities as part of the Race Together initiative, according to a company memo from CEO Howard Schultz said. Starbucks were flooded with customer feedback online and off.
The negative reaction towards the ‘feel good’ views of Starbucks spiking your morning coffee with their in-house-blend of racial sanctimony wasn’t enough to get them to rethink their disastrous campaign, nope, the coffee house has raised the stakes by lacing your morning paper with an in depth ‘race in your face’ quiz. So, in an effort to be less racist, is to label non-white people ‘other’ and quantify them.
Starbucks customers want coffee, not a political agenda. I understand that Starbucks wanted to do something about America’s troubled race relations but this campaign was always going to have a sharp backlash.
People started to not only pick the campaign apart but the company. Looking at the Starbucks leadership team it did not show much diversity, questioning Starbucks own diversity as a company. The campaign seems to have been put together without thought or care, which could not be done with such a delicate topic.
Due to this campaign, Starbucks has seriously damaged it’s reputation. Starbucks clearly have not heard Warren Buffet’s “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” As a company they now have to rebuild their reputation constructively and carefully. Overall, the campaign was successful in starting a discussion not about race but Starbucks itself.