By: Courtney Fogle (@courtnxyfogle


With the recent discrimination crisis and response from Starbucks, this week’s episode of PR Hangover features crisis specialist Jeff Gaunt of Lambert, Edwards & Associates. To learn more about Jeff and his role at LE&A, click here!

One Employee, Corporate Impact

Jeff says that when he thinks of Starbucks, he doesn’t think about the executives sitting in their offices; he thinks of the baristas that wait on him. The individuals that represent a business might be paid minimum wage, but their role in maintaining their brand’s image is critical. That’s how one incident can turn into a catastrophe, as it did when two men were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks in mid-April. 

Starbucks’ Response

The incident at Starbucks is impactful to more than just their own brand, Jeff says. This affects how other businesses will handle future crises, particularly regarding racial bias. Starbucks responded to their crisis quickly, personally, and even went as far as holding an anti-bias training for 8,000 stores on May 29 to ensure that steps are being taken to educate their employees. You can hear more about Starbucks’ response and Jeff’s opinions on it in this week’s episode.

Social Media & the Press

Jeff speaks on social media’s role in crisis communication. Social media can be a blessing or a curse when it comes to brands maintaining their reputations. Such a quick mechanism for news sharing makes the bad press spread like wildfire, and everyone has an opinion to add. With videos going viral, angry customers, and serious media coverage, Starbucks had it bad. However, it’s important for companies with a consumer base that use social media to connect with them on the platforms they use. Releasing statements on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sources is necessary when that’s the primary source of information for their consumers.  

The Ethics Behind Crisis Management

So is it hard to represent a client who did something wrong, especially when trying to portray them in good light for their consumers and the media? Jeff says that most PR companies will not work with a client if they aren’t working to resolve the issue. If their crisis communication efforts are just to cover up bad press, that is not a job they’d feel comfortable taking. However, when meeting with clients, Jeff suggests that it’s important to discuss a client’s secrets that could potentially threaten their reputation if they were brought to the public eye. Precautionary work is always helpful in order to be prepared for a future crisis.

To listen to this podcast, click here. Enjoy!



Courtney Fogle is a junior studying Advertising and Public Relations. She is currently the Podcast Director for PRSSA and an account associate at GrandPR. Courtney is a singer-songwriter, with hopes to combine her love of music and PR so that she can work in the music industry managing artists and their brands. In her free time, you can find her listening to music or taking pictures of her cat, Oliver.