Sprauve fills public affairs job at Starbucks

SEATTLE: Starbucks has underlined its support for social responsibility and reputation management by developing the new position of VP of worldwide public affairs.

SEATTLE: Starbucks has underlined its support for social responsibility and reputation management by developing the new position of VP of worldwide public affairs.

The coffee company hired Anthony Sprauve to take on the new job, the number-two communications position at Starbucks. Sprauve was a VP of client services at Applied Communications, a hi-tech agency. But he spent his first two weeks on the job doing something decidedly low-tech - working behind the bar at a Starbucks, for a hands-on lesson in what the majority of Starbucks' employees do every day on the job.

"My role will be to help raise the profile of our corporate social responsibility," said Sprauve. "We do wonderful things in the countries where we buy coffee that we're not getting credit for. We need to raise our profile. There are a lot of things the company does at the employee and customer level to make the world a better place.

"I'm also going to take on global reputation management," he added. "The company has a very clear vision of where it wants to be in the next five years, and what steps we have to take to get to that point. These values are important to how we make business decisions."

Starbucks' executive team has taken a look at what it will take to become a global business leader within those five years, he said, and recognizes the role communications will play. That is why chairman Howard Schultz and CEO Orin Smith helped create the new position and interviewed candidates. Sprauve added that the executive team supports communications and PR, giving it a voice at the executive level.

Sprauve will report to Wanda Herndon, SVP of worldwide public affairs.

As for why he made the move from hi-tech to coffee, Sprauve admits that he still loves technology, but his experience has always been on the corporate communications side, and that he was looking for "an exciting and dynamic company that is facing challenges."

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