The reduction of plastic straws within some of the biggest restaurant chains is certainly shaping up to be an example of a good PR movement – something I’m rather fond of, I mean, why else would I be studying it?
This year has seen many major restaurant’s bidding adieu to plastic straws in an effort to end the ‘plastic tide’ of waste that is polluting the oceans.
These changes in the plastic straw spectacle come a year after parliament faced increased pressures to tax straws in a bid to reduce the quantity of consumption, although nothing was finalised at the time – however, it appears that brands have taken it upon themselves to step up and help the environment.
The latest restaurant to announce the switch was McDonald’s, who confirmed they would be trialling paper straws in their stores in a bid to join the movement; it is likely that other fast food chains will shortly follow suit. McDonald’s are having an inventive and productive PR season, most recently with the launch of their Monopoly campaign (ever successful) and now with this, it can be said that many of their competitors will be looking for a chance to match their reputation. (Right, Burger King?)
Other companies ditching the plastic for paper include Nandos, All Bar One, Pizza Express, Wagamama and London City Airport.
This string of events perfectly marks the ‘PR’ chain reaction. A term coined by yours truly.
A chain reaction is defined as “A series of events, each caused by the previous one”, I’ve just put the word PR in front of it, makes sense, right?
When one large brand follows, others are bound to follow suit.
The first brand to instigate the movement effectively becomes a leader in the process and is known for their ingenuity and statement their make. Brands who imitate these actions are unlikely to receive such a level of high praise – this is because it becomes almost expected of them to emulate the approaches and positions of another.
Surely, this expectancy falls somewhere within their CSR (corporate social responsibility) right? Or is it just not wanting to face the backlash of not following suit?
When one company drives for change, others must subsequently follow in their footsteps, hence, the PR Chain Reaction.
In simple terms, observing the PR chain reaction, brands are not likely to see a magical PR turn-around in return, but it will certainly lend a hand in avoiding backlash for being behind the times.
Though the PR chain reaction is a term coined by myself, this idea of a reaction makes sense.
In today’s society, PR can be seen as a game of cat and mouse. Brands are often seen to be chasing each other to try and be the best, striving to go above and beyond their competitors; let’s be honest, that just how business works.
The chain reaction, whilst not allowing a company to be left behind, is something brands should aim to start, placing themselves at the top of the spectrum, to become the leader. If a brand becomes the first organisation to release a ground-breaking campaign, and others follow their footsteps, simply put, it is going to be a PR dream for the organisation.
At the end of the day, it’s all about thinking outside the box, being creative and taking risks.
Post by Erin Smith, final year BCU Media PR student, class of 2018