Whether it’s recovering after a media or brand crisis or sharing the right story with your audience, taking the time to create strong messaging and well-thought-out public relations efforts can make or break your business and your brand. In this article, we will explore three recent public relations examples that saved the day for these top brands.
Public Relations Example #1: CVS Pulls Tobacco from Their Shelves
The Problem: CVS was on the receiving end of much criticism for selling tobacco products in their 9,000+ stores. They were accused of supporting an unhealthy habit that didn’t match their corporate brand of health and wellness.
The Save: CVS announced they would embrace their corporate commitment to health and wellness and pull all tobacco products from the shelves, effective October 1, 2014.
The Aftermath: CVS received widespread praise from President Obama, the American Medical Association, health-conscious customers and others. President Obama said CVS’s new policy would “have a profoundly positive impact on the health of our country.” Examples of public relations like this show how important it is for brands to communicate an authentic, unified image.
Public Relations Example #2: Starbucks Racial Bias Incident
The Problem: Two African American men were waiting for a friend in a Philadelphia Starbucks. Because they were waiting to order until their entire group had arrived, Starbucks employees assumed they were loitering in the store and asked them to leave. When they didn’t, the Starbucks manager called the police and the men were arrested and held for hours before being released without being charged. Almost immediately, the public and media formed a narrative about the racial bias of the Starbucks employee.
The Save: What could have turned into a crisis instead became one of the greatest examples of how public relations saved the day. Starbucks announced it would close more than 8,000 stores for half a day to conduct racial bias training for more than 175,000 employees. Starbucks called on more than 30 diversity and inclusion experts to create the guidebook for the training.
The Aftermath: The public and media praised Starbucks’ swift action to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion training in all their stores following the incident. By choosing to close thousands of stores and losing half of the day’s sales, Starbucks proved to their customers that their commitment to employee bias training was more important than the millions of dollars in revenue they lost while the stores were closed.
The company also changed its policy to allow people who haven’t made a purchase to spend time in their stores or use the bathroom. In this public relations example, Starbucks managed their brand crisis with quick action by acknowledging the problem, issuing an apology where they owned up to what happened, sharing their solution and following-up publicly with an update on how they were working to resolve the issue.
Public Relations Example #3: Reese’s Creates #AllTreesAreBeautiful Campaign
The Problem: Hersey’s Co. faced criticism on social media about their misshapen Reese’s holiday trees.
The Save: Hersey’s Co. and Reese’s heard their audience’s dissatisfaction with their holiday treat and created the hashtag, #AllTreesAreBeautiful as a response. Reese’s redirected the conversation to highlight the uniqueness of each tree and how all trees are beautiful and delicious regardless of their defined branches.
Similar to the body positivity campaigns from Aerie and Dove, Hershey’s took the concept of embracing imperfections and tied that to their “unique” trees.
Reese’s personality and dedication to the campaign were clear. On Twitter, they were responding to negative tweets about the candies’ shapes with responses like: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and they are pretty beautiful, you might just need to squint a little *winking emoji*.”
The Aftermath: Reese’s redirection of the conversation was a very successful public relations example of how brands can change the narrative. Thousands of people shared tweets, gifs, posts and comments on social media with their hashtag. Customers applauded the company’s willingness to spread a positive message and have a little fun along the way.