SEATTLE: Starbucks Coffee Company is using employee communications and traditional and social media outreach to encourage consumers and business leaders to support job creation through the “Create Jobs for the USA” initiative.
The company launched the effort with the Opportunity Finance Network earlier this month, and it began accepting in-store and online donations this week. When customers donate $5 to the program, they receive a red, white, and blue wristband that was made in the US with the word “indivisible” on it.
The company will also give every consumer who enters a Starbucks location in the US a small pamphlet describing how the money will be used to create jobs, said Corey duBrowa, VP of global communications and international public affairs at Starbucks.
The company initially took an “organic approach” to communications for the initiative, connecting with employees, or “partners,” and explaining the goal of and message behind “Create Jobs for USA,” duBrowa added.
“Our thought process was to make this as easy for our partners to embrace and communicate as possible, because we know that in many respects the way our customers know the brand…is through our partners,” he said.
Edelman, Starbucks' global PR AOR for more than a decade, is also pitching broadcast and print media outlets. The New York Times has published two articles about the initiative, duBrowa said, and it has also been covered on NBC's Today program. International media outlets, such as The Economist, BBC, and Al Jazeera have covered the program as well.
The coffee company also aired a 60-second TV ad during game seven of the World Series, which was viewed by nearly 25 million people, said Jim Olson, VP of global corporate communications at Starbucks.
Later that night, the company uploaded a photo of former Major League Baseball manager Tony La Russa wearing the Starbucks wristband. Within an hour of posting the photo on Starbucks' Facebook wall, it received more than 20,000 likes and 4,000 comments, Olson added. Starbucks has more than 25 millions fans on the social network
“We have one of the largest, if not the largest, social media following of a private company,” he said.
Starbucks is also using Twitter to get the message out about the program. While Foursquare is not yet being used, duBrowa said the company may integrate the social media tool into its efforts.
Blogger outreach is also a significant part of Starbucks' communication strategy. Online community BlogHer has committed to donating $5 for every blogger in its network who writes about “Create Jobs for USA,” said duBrowa.
“The engine of job creation in this country continues to be small businesses, so if we can find a way through this peer-to-peer engagement model to really focus job creation on the part of the economy where those jobs are going to show up and become sustainable, they create a livelihood for people and give them hope,” he explained.
Starbucks also launched the upwardspiral2011.org, which was created by Seattle-based digital agency Pop, to encourage CEOs and business leaders to withhold campaign contributions to members of Congress until the economic situation in the US improves. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was the first business leader to take this pledge, and he has encouraged more than 150 CEOs and executives to sign on with him, said duBrowa.