In today’s hyperactive information environment and 24-hour news cycle, both personal and corporate reputations are no longer set in stone. Instead, reputations have become something extremely fragile and highly unpredictable – kind of like the stock market.
At a time when news travels with the speed of light and social media are tools that allow everyone to be a reporter, even the biggest brands’ reputations can be destroyed in a matter of hours. This is why it is never a bad idea to invest some effort in earning positive PR whenever possible.
Enter Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz. Following the worst U.S. stock market plunge in four years, this Monday, Schultz asked his employees to be aware of the effects it may have on Starbucks’ customers. Schultz wrote an email to his 190,000 employees saying:
“Today’s financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer confidence and perhaps even our customers’ attitudes and behavior. Our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern… Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations.”
Red Banyan Group commends Starbucks’ CEO for his consistent efforts to bolster his brand’s corporate image. Schultz has definitely scored some positive reputational points with this rallying cry to his team. By acting proactively, he has established himself as a CEO who cares about people and is actively trying to build his brand in adherence to the principles of humanity and corporate responsibility.
Just like financial analysts who monitor markets and try to predict their next move in order to act accordingly, strategic PR agencies constantly analyze the information environment surrounding their clients, detecting and addressing issues that may negatively affect their reputations.
When it’s possible to notch a win and paint your company and it’s brand in a positive light it builds a critical mass of goodwill that can be drawn upon when the company is inevitably criticized for something down the road. Plus, people like buying products and services from people they like and perceive to be high-integrity individuals.
Well done, Mr. Schultz. Proof that nice guys can (and in Starbucks’ case) do finish first.