Dunkin’ Donuts Out-Does Starbucks … Again

I’m a loyal Starbucks customer, so it pains me to do this but … here it goes. Earlier this week, following the announcement of 600 layoffs, the 7,000+ stores temporarily closed their doors for three hours to conduct nationwide employee training. In response to this announcement, scrappy competitor Dunkin’ Donuts offered small lattes, cappuccinos and espresso drinks for 99 cents “to ensure that no coffee over is denied a delicious espresso-based beverage.” Touche!

It was a brilliant PR move on the part of the company, whose success in the caffeine market is quickly threatening to outpace Starbucks’. Dunkin’ Donuts is making huge inroads by appealing to the masses—the “average Joe” coffee drinker, if you will, who doesn’t know (or want to know) that ‘tall’ and ‘small’ are the same size. BUT, that said, I do think that Starbucks execs made a good decision in closing up shop for a few hours to “foster enthusiasm” among its 135,000 employees (who were likely concerned for their job security) and “improve the quality of the drinks” made by baristas.

Sipping my iced coffee as I write this, my conclusion is simple: Both companies made a good choice, but Dunkin’ Donuts definitely takes the cake for exploiting another’s hurt for its own gain. Maybe a little side of Schadenfreude with its 99 cent latte? You’ve gotta respect that … even if you are a big enough sucker to spend 10% of your annual income on overpriced (and, admittedly, over-roasted) coffee. Guilty as charge.

By Courtney Barnes

Thrills & Chills, Part II

I thought I’d follow up on Diane’s previous post about the thrills and chills of hiring job candidates with a different twist on the same problem.  As someone who is (thankfully) not in a management position, I haven’t had too much experience screening candidates, but watching from the sidelines has left a number of impressions on me–all of which, it turns out, are related to generational conflicts. (Disclaimer: These comments are not based on the current job search going on at the PR News sister publication! They are merely observations…)

Now, at the risk of sounding as self-righteous and entitled as the next “Millennial,” recruiting and retaining top talent isn’t child’s play anymore.  Younger, smarter and more qualified candidates are entering the workforce in droves, yet many managers are still approaching hiring the same way they would have a decade ago–that is, they assume that you should want them, no negotiations necessary.

Here’s the problem:  In spite of the trouble economy and doomsday-esque talk of a recession, 20-something candidates are not afraid to enter the wild west of unemployment if the alternative is staying at a job that makes them feel unhappy or, worse, unfulfilled.  Many managers find this disconcerting, leaving them with little bargaining power when a young employee issues an ultimatum (something Millennials are so fond of doing): Give me this, or I’m gone.”

So, what’s the solution?  In short, there really isn’t one.  Organizations are trying to evolve their strategies by introducing creative benefits and flexible working schedules, but at the end of the day it’s a cultural difference that keeps this battle in a stalemate.  What can managers do to attract and retain the best in the business, from my Millennial point of view?  Give us everything we ask for, like, right away.

Just kidding.

By Courtney Barnes

The thrills and chills of interviewing job candidates

Most managers have had the experience of interviewing job candidates. We’re currently interviewing for an opening in our editorial department at one of PR News’ sister publications.  I must say, there are a lot of great candidates out there. For the most part. Then there are the foot-in-the-mouth candidates who clearly have read too many books with names like What Color is My Parachute. That would be candidate Number 2 who tells us he wants to “run an empire.” Or Candidate Number 5 who asked “what exactly do you guys do?” Candidate Number 7 didn’t even show up. Glad to say, though, that Candidates 1,  3 and 4 were all impressive, did their homework and wrote us thank-you notes within 24 hours.  Job seekers must be PR pros — they must know how to brand themselves, sell themselves to prospective customers (hirers) and walk the talk rather than parachute in and expect the offer.  At the same time, the hiring managers need to do a little PR for themselves and their organization. We can’t just assume that they’ll take the job if offered — are we selling ourselves well enough? That’s a question for HR and managers the world over. And that’s PR at work. I’d love to hear  your experiences on the hiring front….

– Diane Schwartz

Digital Platforms Are the Hero of the Super Sunday … Oh, and Eli Manning

Yes, the Giants rocked the Super Bowl, doing a victory dance all over their underdog status… or whatever to appropriate sports cliché is.  But, two days out (on Super Tuesday, no less, and with the Giants parade blaring outside as I blog this), the most resonant star of the day wasn’t the star at all; it was the behind-the-scenes digital communications platforms that advertisers leveraged to continue the viewing momentum that started during game time.

Now fans can relive the commercial greatness by watching a rerun on YouTube. Web sites allow viewers to vote for their favorite ad. Blogs tell juicy details behind the creation of certain ads, thus generating more buzz. Microsites became hubs for campaign promotions.

All in all, it looks like marketers had a carpe diem moment and really got serious about digital channels, maximizing all the consumer engagement potential and basking in the results. There is probably another good football cliché that could be inserted here, but … I just don’t know it.

By Courtney Barnes

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