Starbucks shuts down, reaps PR windfall

Stunt or not, Starbucks’ “coffee training” offers key PR lessons.

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Stunt or not, Starbucks’ “coffee training” offers key PR lessons

It was either one of the year’s bravest business moves, or one of the year’s biggest PR stunts—or both. When Starbucks shut down all 7,100 of its U.S. locations in late February for three and a half hours to train staff, the Seattle-based coffee chain reaped a windfall of media coverage.

Stunt or no stunt, the fact is that Starbucks, a company that’s been struggling to regain its footing following slipping sales and the firing of its CEO, scored big not only in terms of coverage, but in terms of the closure’s overriding message. Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks and newly installed CEO, made it clear that the closure was all about making better coffee.

“The very heart of the Starbucks Experience is the connection our baristas have with our customers through a shared passion of exceptional coffee,” said Schultz in a Starbucks press release the evening of the closures. “Tonight is about celebrating who we are and re-energizing our focus on and commitment to those things that have made us the world’s leading roaster and retailer of specialty coffee.”

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