The smoothly oiled Starbucks PR Machine
Starbucks closed recently to retrain their baristas. Why was this necessary? A massive overexpansion, poor training program, sluggish growth, focus on sandwiches and music instead of coffe, and competition from Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds? It seems their US president was shown the door today. Not pretty.
But the PR machine is operating perfectly. The cover story was that Starbucks was going to "revive the intimate, friendly feel of a neighborhood coffee shop". You mean the ones they try to put out of business? Still, the entire planet was notified of the planned three hour closing. It was considered national news in the United States, complete with radio and TV interviews of Starbucks staff. Tens of millions of dollars of free advertising in return for shutting down during three slow late evening hours. I thought that was smart.
But what if you were thinking of working at Starbucks and read about the training? Apparently it was pretty medieval. Who wants to take a job where you have to be trained to be snob? Seriously, and at a part-time fast food job? Forget it.
No problem. Starbucks staff get health benefits, and no one should forget that. What if there was a health-related story about just how amazingly cool Starbucks staff were? What if the story were so irresistibly sweet that it would have to make the national papers, just like the shut down? This might heal any potential damage the shut down did, right? That would be smart!
Shoot on over to today's human interest piece in the New York Times about, get this, a Starbucks barista who donated her kidney to a customer. Not to take away from the impressive generosity this woman showed, but why didn't this story make the rounds last fall when it happened? Right in time for the Christmas season perhaps?
Nah, probably better that it showed up today to either remind workers that Starbucks is great, even though they train the hell out of you, or to totally bury the news that their US president got the sack today.
Say what you like about their coffee, their business practices, or their organ donors, but their PR department kicks all ass. It almost makes you feel sorry for the schmucks at the New York Times who swallowed this hook, line and sinker instead of reporting on, oh, the massive cost of the war or something useful. Almost.
Postscript: There is apparently some evidence that Starbucks's ubiquity leads to an expansion of demand for coffee so large that many neighborhood coffee shops have increased sales after a Starbucks moves in across the street... Anyone wonder who planted that story?