PR Win! Save by CoffeeCup

All opinions (and I mean all) herein are my own and not the official opinion of PRBC or any of the other writers.

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(CC) flickr // andy_carter

There’s a software company I’m a big fan of — CoffeeCup [and no FTC, they aren't compensating me in any way].  Most of the software they create is for website development – ftp programs, html coding, flash animation, etc.  The software’s always very user-friendly, they provide good support, have an active message board for customers, provide free updates, and give away a decent amount of free software so you can get a flavor of what they produce.

It’s a feel-good company.  The company name “came from the domain name of the coffee house where we got our start. (Yes, we owned a real coffee house first.) Domains cost $100 a year back then, and coffeecup.com was already paid for, so why invent a new name?”  They claim to run on “an unlimited supply of Red Bull, Mexican food, Jelly Bellies, and passion for our users.”  

The most expensive single piece of software costs $49.

Perhaps best of all, the company “provides discounted software to schools, the disabled, and those in need. In the past, we have collected seven tons of goods for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, raised more than $1 million for September 11th support agencies, and collected more than $50,000 for Tsunami victims.” (Emphasis mine).

This is a company I can get behind — good product at a good price, sense of humor, do their best to help others.  It’s a win-win-win.

So when I got an email with a subject line of “Save the Boobies With CoffeeCup” and realized it was already October (National Breast Cancer Awareness month) I knew what they were up to.  I was familiar with the ‘Save the ta-tas’ campaign and know of other similar campaigns and (as a modern dad) am familiar with similar strategies from breast-feeding advocates.

ScreenHunter_02 Oct. 08 23.03

CoffeeCup was offering users a 10% discount on software from their ‘pink page’ and donating 10% of their revenue to the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  Nice all around — provide financial incentive to buy software and a goodwill incentive as well as doing some good all at the same time.

Slight tangent — One thing to know about me – notwithstanding my constant low-level flirting, I adore strong women.  Both my grandmothers were in the workforce, I’ve never known my mom not to work (heck, she served in the military) and heaven help me if I ever showed any disrespect to a woman or pulled a “but she’s just a girl” type comment as a boy.  When I say (tweet) that the #PRBC ladies keep me in check the only part that’s a joke is that they don’t really need to.  So this post is not just an excuse for me to blog about boobs.

If I didn’t already own all the CoffeeCup software I need, I would’ve bought some.

Apparently not everyone agreed.  Thursday evening I got this message:

ScreenHunter_04 Oct. 08 23.38

Long story short — They got negative feedback.  Apparently people felt they “weren’t taking the subject of breast cancer seriously.”

Potential image / PR problem — particularly bad when all you were trying to do is a good thing.  It even seeped into their twitter feed.

So, how’d they fix it and how’d they do:

  1. Responded quickly: I received the original message at around 3:30 pm on Wednesday.  I got the apology at around 6:30 pm on Thursday.  Just over 24 hours later.  Not lightning fast, but certainly pretty good, particularly when you consider there needed to be  some time in there to actually get the complaints in.  They didn’t let it stew over the weekend or even seep into an extra calendar day.
  2. Explained their thought process and that they didn’t do this half-cocked (pun intended): “Our aim in sending out an e-mail with a provocative subject line was to get people’s attention and raise money for a worthy cause. It’s a strategy used most notably by ta-tas (www.savethetatas.com), an organization that aims to raise awareness and support the fight against breast cancer. We ran the idea by the female members of our staff, as well as several of the most active female members in the CoffeeCup community, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. We also received positive feedback from many of our users, male and female.”
  3. Used prior history to show they actually believe in the cause and aren’t just providing lip service after a snafu: “Second and most importantly, we do take the issue of breast cancer very seriously — in fact, one of the members of our staff helped design the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Website.”
  4. Upped the ante, twice: “…we’re going to double the amount of money we donate. That means that 20% of the revenue from all purchases made through our Pink Page will go straight to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. We’ve also added a donation button for people who may not need software but would still like to help out.”Fantastic!  Basically – ‘We’re sorry we offended you, so we’re going to give them more money, no we won’t offer you any more discount, we’re going to help the cause.’  The company could have driven more sales by giving the users they offended an additional discount but chose instead to offer more to the non-profit.  I’m sure there will be a slight goodwill uptick, but when it comes to spending money most people will pull out their wallets for their own discount than for a warm fuzzy.  To boot, they also added a method to donate directly.
  5. Addressed the issue on all fronts: They handled it through their [relatively green] twitter feedfacebook fan page (which only had accolades last I checked), through email and their website (the last of which is likely the company’s bread and butter).

Final score — 4.5 of 5 stars for me.

  • The potentially offended audience was relatively limited in scope to their email list, fans and followers so reaching them again was relatively simple.
  • Not only did they offer an apology, they also put their money where their mouth is and then sent it in the right direction.
  • Pointed out their true commitment over time to this cause (and true followers of the company know about their prior efforts for other organizations).
  • They did it all at once — it wasn’t piecemeal where the company offered an apology and then, when they realized it wasn’t enough, upped the donation.  They came out like gangbusters – our bad, we’re sorry, here’s how we’re fixing it if we ticked you off.
  • I would’ve liked to see the email in my inbox the next morning, but that’s not a fatal error.

So, my flacky brethren, too much, not enough, just right?  What more would you have liked to see from our friends over at CoffeeCup?i

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  • http://www.coffeecup.com/ J. Cornelius

    Thanks for the write up. I hope more people use this as an opportunity to help the cause. Just in case your readers are interested, here is the page where they can order/donate. https://www.coffeecup.com/store/specials/pink/

  • http://twitter.com/WY20 sherri, jason & matt

    It's so true that every crisis is an opportunity – I think CoffeeCup did a fantastic job of turning a negative into a positive. Their response was timely, direct and extremely appropriate – kudos to them! Thanks for writing about this great example of crisis management. We can all learn from the way CoffeeCup handled what could have been a PR nightmare.

  • http://alexaizenberg.wordpress.com/ Alex Aizenberg

    Great summary sir, very great analysis and case study. Definitely a lot other orgs can learn from their response and approach. Very cool, thanks for compiling!

    Also totally agree that strong women are indeed the best =) As the old saying goes, the man is the head but the woman is the neck… (i hope my wife is reading this haha)

  • Fernwood Hotel – Bruce Flinn

    Well done. This is an example of how Social Media works. People speak – company listens – company takes action. I've been a user of the CoffeeCup HTML Editor since it came out in 1996. It is the only software I use to hand code my websites. The company has provided timely updates and are always looking for ways to improve my (their customers) coding lives through new and innovative software programs.

    (disclaimer: I do not work for, am not compensated by and have not received any gifts from the CoffeeCup company. All CoffeeCup software I use has been purchased through normal purchasing channels.)

  • prcog

    Thanks SJ&M — We (not PRBC, all of us) like to attack the #fails so often that it's nice to see (and learn) from the flipside.

  • prcog

    Hey Bruce -

    Great to meet a fellow CC user. They really are a great company and unfortunate that so many didn't get the point of what they were trying to do. At the fix was fast, appropriate, and (hopefully) effective.

  • http://www.coffeecup.com/ J. Cornelius

    Thanks for the write up. I hope more people use this as an opportunity to help the cause. Just in case your readers are interested, here is the page where they can order/donate. https://www.coffeecup.com/store/specials/pink/

  • http://twitter.com/WY20 sherri, jason & matt

    It's so true that every crisis is an opportunity – I think CoffeeCup did a fantastic job of turning a negative into a positive. Their response was timely, direct and extremely appropriate – kudos to them! Thanks for writing about this great example of crisis management. We can all learn from the way CoffeeCup handled what could have been a PR nightmare.

  • http://alexaizenberg.wordpress.com/ Alex Aizenberg

    Great summary sir, very great analysis and case study. Definitely a lot other orgs can learn from their response and approach. Very cool, thanks for compiling!

    Also totally agree that strong women are indeed the best =) As the old saying goes, the man is the head but the woman is the neck… (i hope my wife is reading this haha)

  • http://fernwoodhotel.wordpress.com/ Fernwood Hotel – Bruce Flinn

    Well done. This is an example of how Social Media works. People speak – company listens – company takes action. I've been a user of the CoffeeCup HTML Editor since it came out in 1996. It is the only software I use to hand code my websites. The company has provided timely updates and are always looking for ways to improve my (their customers) coding lives through new and innovative software programs.

    (disclaimer: I do not work for, am not compensated by and have not received any gifts from the CoffeeCup company. All CoffeeCup software I use has been purchased through normal purchasing channels.)

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    Thanks SJ&M — We (not PRBC, all of us) like to attack the #fails so often that it's nice to see (and learn) from the flipside.

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    Hey Bruce -

    Great to meet a fellow CC user. They really are a great company and unfortunate that so many didn't get the point of what they were trying to do. At the fix was fast, appropriate, and (hopefully) effective.

  • http://coffeeofthemonthclub.net/ Coffee of the Month Club

    Great article. Offering 10% discount and donating it can help many people who are suffering from breast cancer. This company's advocacy can increase customers as well as sales.