Starbucks Smartens Up Its Image with Free Online Education for Employees


starbucksFast food and drink chains have been in the news lately for some less-than-flattering topics—the struggle for a higher minimum wage and strikes in complaint of poor working conditions, among other things, come to mind.

On Monday, Starbucks is making news for a different reason, one that sets it apart from any other major corporation.

The company is set to announce a new program that will make a free online education from Arizona State University available to any employee who works more than 20 hours per week. According to The New York Times, employees must first gain admission to Arizona State. The company will then pay full tuition for employees who already have two years of college credit or more and partial tuition for employees with fewer credits.

In a major departure from other companies that offer tuition reimbursement programs, Starbucks will not require employees to stay with the company after they complete their degrees, and employees will be free to study any topic.

Starbucks looks to benefit from the partnership with ASU in a few important ways, the prospect of attracting better talent and of increasing employee satisfaction chief amongst them.

From a communications standpoint, though, the tuition program is a brilliant branding move for the coffee chain. For a company whose reputation is definitely more Wal-Mart than Wharton, the tuition program softens its image as a massive, thankless corporation. As the first major company to offer a program of this size and scale without major stipulations, Starbucks has positioned itself as a progressive advocate of higher education, a fortunate if not intentioned side effect of the new initiative.

Follow Brian Greene: @bwilliamgreene




Leave a comment

avatar

About Brian Greene

Writer/Editor, PR News



Deals of the Week

Get $150 Off PR News' Social Media 20/20 Summit

PRN_summit_ads_175x135_ep

This gathering will feature some key influencers and operators in social media, sharing their knowledge and experience in a full day of eye-opening sessions. You will take away practical knowledge to increase the visibility of your brand and expand its reach on social media.

Use code “150off” at checkout.

Get $50 off PR News' Media Relations Guidebook

book-mediarelations-180x150

This 8-chapter resource contains practical implications for some of the most innovative developments in media relations, including the technologies, methodologies and mannerisms that determine the ecosystem in which PR pros practice this essential part of their craft.

Use code “50off” at checkout.

Save $100 on a PR News Subscription

Let PR News become your weekly, go-to resource for the latest PR trends, case studies and tip sheets. Topics covered include visual storytelling, social media, measurement, crisis management and media relations.

Use code “SUBDEAL” at checkout.