Starbucks CEO Brews a New Cup of Communications

Source: Comic Flea Market

With his new comic book Starbucks Chairman-CEO Howard Schultz offers a unique way to communicate the attributes of his brand and fly above the competition.

Howard Schultz: The Man Behind Starbucks,” which is produced by Blueprint Productions, should inspire public relations executives who are grappling with how to humanize their CEOs.

The comic book is Exhibit A for PR pros who want to put their CEO in a more affable light, which is becoming increasingly vital for brands that want to succeed in a social-media age.

Whether it’s via traditional PR channels, such as print, or digital outlets like blogs, CEOs—with a nudge from communicators—need to display more of their personality.

As a growing number of consumersa become conditioned to being “friends” with the companies they keep, there are several PR vehicles that communicators can facilitate for their CEO so he or she can get chummy  with customers and prospects.

> Blogs: At the risk of stating the obvious, this is a layup for CEOs. Writing a blog a few times a week provides a way for senior executives to share their passions, hobbies and, dare we say, quirks, in order to show their audiences that they are not obsessed with the top and bottom lines and can talk about their life beyond dollars and cents.

> Podcasts: Does your boss love to chat? Even better, does your boss have a mellifluous and inviting voice? Set him or her up with a weekly podcast; not to shill for the company or the industry but to have a jargon-free conversation about the values of the brand and how it relates to some of the larger issues confronting society. Tossing in a periodic opinion about things that have absolutely nothing to do with the company can’t hurt, either. It shows that your boss is able to relate to subject matters beyond a spreadsheet. With apologies to Steve Allen, radio is the theater of the mind—and can help to cultivate your audience(s).

> Video vignettes: Does your boss have a friendly tennis game that he or she plays weekly?  Is your CEO a cinema buff? Or does he or she not miss any of their kids’ softball games?  Arrange for a video crew to (unobtrusively) follow the boss on a personal outing. This can show how gelling out with some friends or cheering on the kids helps the CEO to recharge the batteries and think more holistically about how to improve the brand’s products, services and relationships.

So, what are we missing?

Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1



About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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  • David Patton

    A good example of how to mix informative and entertaining content about a brand or person.

  • andymturner

    CEOs with a life beyond dollars and cents are probably as
    common as Unicorns. Even if they do they exist, I’d imagine very few would want
    to share their ‘passions, hobbies and, dare we say, quirks’ with all and
    sundry. Imagine the hassle and envy that would attract? Podcats about ‘brand
    values’? Total turnoff for all but the weird. As for following the boss on a
    personal outing with a video crew: quickest way to get fired, more like. To get
    ‘chummy with customers and prospects’, get out of the office, go and visit some,
    listen carefully, show interest, act on their concerns. I’ve met plenty of CEOs
    who have personalities that definitely don’t ‘need more display’. For the
    benefit of doubt, I think this piece must’ve been written with tongue firmly in