5 key takeaways from Starbucks’ crisis response

Ameliorating a PR disaster can be tricky, but the coffeehouse chain’s words and actions, after two black men were wrongfully arrested at one of its stores, offer lessons for communicators.

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By contrast, Starbucks has been hitting the bull’s-eye in its response to the recent incident in which two black men were unjustly arrested at a store in Philadelphia.

Several key steps should part of any crisis response, and every move Starbucks has made has resonated with consumers and journalists alike.

Here are five steps to handle a crisis, along with commentary on how Starbucks has addressed this recent issue:

Step 1: Assess the legitimacy of the situation, considering all merits and circumstances, and take steps to support or reject it.

Starbucks’ top brass was decisive in rejecting the validity of the arrests; company leaders remained consistent in their position and clear in their messaging.

Step 2: If the company is at fault, identify responsibility and take corrective action. Apologize and offer appropriate compensation to the aggrieved person(s).

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