Starbucks is a household name. But that doesn’t mean the company has shied away from promoting itself. In fact, Starbucks utilizes almost every media and PR channel available. And the result is an integrated campaign that serves its customers and generates buzz. Here’s a review of some recent efforts:
NEWS/MEDIA: Starbucks is such a staple that it generates its own news. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Starbucks garnered press coverage just for being the top destination for refugees with no power or Wifi. Outside of that, and politically charged comments from the CEO, Starbucks keeps the media focused on the results of their other PR campaigns.
FACEBOOK: The official Starbucks page has 28.9 million likes. Impressive. Their fall promotion played off the love the Pumpkin Spiced Latte, a favorite seasonal drink. Visitors to the site could earn points for their city by playing games on the site. The prize? The winning city gets to enjoy the Pumpkin Spiced Latte a week earlier than the rest of the county. From an outsider, this might seem insignificant. To winning city Chicago, which racked up 10,599,500 points, it was well worth the effort. This campaign not only allowed consumers to interact with the Starbuck brand, but also offered a clever incentive that shows Starbucks understands its customers.
TWITTER: @Starbucks has nearly 2.2 million followers. One might think they must be offering something special to their followers. However, customers are not getting free drinks, but great customer service. The Twitter feed is dedicated to interacting with brand fans (including topics beyond coffee), responding to consumer questions, and keeping followers up to date with current promotions.
FOURSQUARE/FACEBOOK PLACES: The Starbucks Foursquare page has almost 36,000 followers. The goal of their presence on the popular location-based service is to create a community for the regular Starbucks goers. And to offer an exclusive “barista” badge to those who check in to five different Starbucks locations.
MOBILE APP: This PR tool is all about the consumer. Starbucks’ mobile app allows its users to connect directly with their account and pay for their coffee right from their smartphone. Additionally, they can check or recharge their account balance, view their rewards, or see the drink menu. In addition to a branded logo on everyone’s phone, this PR tool generates good will with customers and increases loyalty.
ITUNES: More unique, this is an instant reward for consumers. On the counter at most locations, consumers can find a card for a free song or application from iTunes. All they need to do is enter a code. Not only does this tap into the technology and mindset of the consumer, it offers a free and quick reward.
Varied across different platforms, the marketing and PR strategy for Starbucks shows a very sound knowledge of their customer base. Whether it is playing off the love of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, or letting smartphone users manage their accounts in the palm of their hand, public relations seeks to make every experience with Starbucks fully enjoyable. And that can be read as repeat business.