Apropos of nothing... don't tattoo your entire face if you plan on attempting to escape prison...
<Mugshot of Curtis Michael Allgier, who allegedly shot and killed guard during escape from University Hospital before being apprehended after car chase at a fast food restaurant. (Utah Department of Corrections)>
I read an article in this weekend's NYT about an internally "leaked" memo from Howard Schultz about the dilution of the Starbucks experience and how they needed to return to their roots (of $6 mocchacinos..). Naturally, a lot of people have questioned how a company with stated goals to open 40,000 store and increase same store profitability can reconcile these two very disparate ideas. However, the immediate thought that ran across my mind (and apparently I'm not alone) was whether or not this memo was truly leaked to the Starbucks Gossip page. In a post about a week after the memo appears on his site, Romanesko answers the charge that the memo might have been strategically placed by citing that his Starbucks source begged and pleaded that their name not be published.
Whether or not this truly was a leak or a carefully scripted piece of decaffeinated disinformation, it brings up an interesting question: why leak a memo in the first place? In the Starbucks case, it's pretty easy to see why so many are suspicious. First off, Starbucks has become synonymous with cultural homogenization and this runs counter to many of the supposed "values" that they, as a corporation, subscribe to. You couldn't very well issue a press release or write a speech that that addresses these concerns (not without pissing off your most important constituency - shareholders... damn shareholders!). So you're battling this perception that your company is losing the very things that once made it special but you can't very well come out and say that we're going to rip out the automatic grinders and stop selling cement scones (why is their food so awful??). That's where disinformation comes in. You write an impassioned memo about the desire to return to your roots without actually laying out a plan for what steps you're going to take to make it happen.
I suppose if the memo laid out a "five step plan" for returning Starbucks to its roots, I wouldn't necessarily be so skeptical. But this reads more like a manifesto which is about intentions and we all know what that road is lined with.
It's been a tough few weeks for JetBlue but I think they're going to emerge from this whole fiasco a stronger company. Will people really stop flying JetBlue because of this incident? Had they responded in a different way then I might venture to say that yes, they likely would have lost some customers. However, in my humble opinion, they did a pitch perfect job of managing this crisis. Why? A few reasons. First, they took responsiblity for what happened -- better still, their CEO personally took responsibility and didn't hide behind canned statements and empty rhetoric. He used words like "horrified" -- how often do you hear the word "horrified" uttered by a CEO? Seriously, Google "Horrified" and "CEO" and see what you get. Second, they responded with a clear course of action by issuing a passenger's bill of rights. Sure, their hand was forced but you have to give them credit for saying exactly how they plan to compensate future t
rapped in a fetid aluminum tube inconvenienced passengers. Finally, they communicated this all via full page newspaper ads, a video taped YouTube apology and a proactive PR campaign. Had this same thing happened to American or Delta, I somehow doubt they would have responded as quickly and as articulately as JetBlue. Granted, I'm sure if I had been stuck on the tarmac for 11 hours, I probably would think twice about flying with JetBlue. Though those DirecTV screens in every seat is pretty hard to beat...