Corporate PR - PM goes cup in hand to US coffee chain

On 9 November, Chancellor Gordon Brown revealed the Government’s future spending plans in his budget preview. Among the initiatives he announced was tax incentives for employee share ownership schemes. The next day Tony Blair accompanied Brown on a media tour to sell the pre-Budget plan to the public.

On 9 November, Chancellor Gordon Brown revealed the Government’s

future spending plans in his budget preview. Among the initiatives he

announced was tax incentives for employee share ownership schemes. The

next day Tony Blair accompanied Brown on a media tour to sell the

pre-Budget plan to the public.



Starbucks Coffee Company runs a share ownership scheme in the US called

Bean Stock, and is launching something similar for its UK ’partners’, as

it terms its employees. The company was approached by the Chancellor’s

press office to see if a Starbucks store could be included in Tony Blair

and Gordon Brown’s media tour.





Objectives



To welcome the Prime Minister and Chancellor to Starbucks. To get across

the message that Starbucks is a progressive company and treats its

employees well.





Strategy and Plan



With less than a week between the request from the Chancellor’s press

office and the actual visit, Starbucks’ retained PR agency Gabrielle

Shaw Communications (GSC) had to move quickly.



For security reasons, and because the visit was not a general press

call, the plans had to be kept very quiet. Staff at GSC set about

designing briefing plans for Starbucks staff at its Villiers Street

store, where the visit would take place, and for GSC staff who would be

dealing with subsequent media enquiries.



The day before the event, the Villiers Street staff were given media

training, and advice on how to talk to the Prime Minister.



On the day itself, Government press officers orchestrated the media.



Tony Blair and Gordon Brown spent around 20 minutes chatting with staff

about the Bean Stock scheme and sampling coffee. Tony Blair then went

behind the counter and made his own espresso, telling reporters ’I used

to do this when I was a barman in Paris’.



Within 15 minutes, the story was on the wires, and GSC staff were

flooded with further media enquiries and requests for interviews with

Starbucks staff.





Measurement and Evaluation



The opportunity of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor appearing

together was seized upon by the media, with pictures and stories

appearing in many national newspapers, including full pages in the

Express and the Daily Mail, which ran the headline: ’The Starbucks stops

here, Tony’.



The story was also featured on Channel 4 and BBC evening news bulletins,

with Channel 4 reporting the fact the Gordon Brown was using Starbucks

as an example of an entrepreneurial organisation, in a piece about how

the Chancellor had been strongly influenced by US-style economics.



The Independent’s Column One piece claimed Starbucks was archetypal New

Labour and wondered that it was the first time that Gordon Brown and

Tony Blair had been seen together in one.





Results



The whole event went off as smoothly as a skinny double latte with a

dash of hazelnut.



Obviously it is an incredible stroke of luck to be singled out for a

visit by the two most powerful men in the country. But there is

potential for these things to back-fire, and the fact that most of the

coverage was so positive - at least when it came to Starbucks - is a

testament to the good planning and management of the event.



Client: Starbucks Coffee Company

PR Team: Gabrielle Shaw Communications

Campaign: Prime Minister and Chancellor’s visit to Starbucks

Timescale: 10 November 1999

Budget: from annual budget



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