The hashtag is #RaceTogether and loads of people are using it on Twitter to call out the inequities within the company and express disgust that lecturing is the goal here instead of making changes to corporate social issues. It's the definition of a PR nightmare and, as a socially conscious person trained in public relations, I am dumbfounded that people thought this was a good idea.
This campaign reads as posturing, as a deflection of social responsibility like: See, we do care. We're talking about it! People aren't buying it, myself included. It's also fueling racist discourse, an easily projected outcome, but there is no apparent crisis communications mechanism in place to address it. Race Together just appears to be this apolitical, fuzzy wuzzy PR campaign, which is counter-productive and self-serving.
Here are some of my favorite Tweets in this discussion. I love to see the public take control of something so misguided and use it to highlight the core issues. Look at all the engagement these Tweets have received. THIS is awareness. We can all use social media to empower ourselves and demand change. It's a great start and a valuable tool.
Starbucks: Nothing Says #RaceTogether Like Only Hiring 3 People of Color Out of 19 Executives. pic.twitter.com/7m1zl4ghQo
— James Parkley (@jnarls) March 17, 2015
Why does #RaceTogether sound a lot like #AllLivesMatter?
— P. Mimi Poinsett MD (@yayayarndiva) March 17, 2015
Will Starbucks also provide space for employees of color to call-out racist co-workers/bosses w/o being fired/discriminated? #RaceTogether
— Jorge J Rodriguez V (@JJRodV) March 17, 2015
Wrong conversation? Starbucks SVP blocks users, then deletes Twitter acc't after being asked about #RaceTogether >> http://t.co/GmHkjpWkMG
— Eugenie Sills (@esills) March 18, 2015
I used to avoid @Starbucks for serving poor quality coffee. Now I can avoid Starbucks to protest shallow social commentary! #RaceTogether
— Bob Owens (@bob_owens) March 18, 2015
Starbucks's PR campaign only values white peoples opinions. People of color don't need to be told to talk about race. #RaceTogether #inners
— Yasemin Ayarci (@DCyasemin) March 18, 2015
Starbucks wants to talk about race—great! A great opportunity to talk about its role in gentrification: http://t.co/PTCc9VKZMe #RaceTogether
— Christian Petroske (@christpetron) March 17, 2015
#RaceTogether is a lazy attempt at anti-racism at best, and a PR fail of epic proportions at worst. Racism is not a trend like crop tops
— dany masado (@bellahappyfeet) March 18, 2015
y'all realize there are no coloured hands in the press photos right @Starbucks #RaceTogether pic.twitter.com/Epd9knTYfz
— black power alt bro (@vidalwuu) March 17, 2015
Starbucks Wants Conversation About Race But Speaking The Truth Would Get A Barista Fired https://t.co/RIr05ZYe4O #RaceTogether #ColorOfCrime
— Preston S. Brooks (@Rebel_Bill) March 18, 2015
@Starbucks Calling your employees "partners" doesnt do anything when u dnt pay them a livable wage & ur CEO makes $10,000/hour #RaceTogether
— Stephanie Llanes (@Steph_Llanes) March 18, 2015
“@Starbucks: We're committed to doing our part to address race relations in the US. We'll have more to say on #RaceTogether tomorrow.” Stop
— Taylor H (@taylor_h5) March 18, 2015