Brilliant PR Move for 1-800-FLOWERS.COM – Lessons from “Undercover Boss”

1 800 flowers public relations

Not longer than a week ago, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM® announced in a press release that its president, Chris McCann, will appear in the season finale of “Undercover Boss,” a known reality TV series on CBS. Undercover Boss was inspired by the 2009 British Channel 4 series of the same name, and features a senior executive at a major corporation, working incognito as a new entry-level hire in his or her company for one week, to find out how the company really works. The show featuring McCann aired on April 11.

For 1-800-FLOWERS.COM this was a remarkable marketing success – the shares of 1-800-Flowers gained nearly 15% this past week, according to The Wall Street Journal. The name of the company literally made waves today, registering a record number of searches – you can only imagine what impact this had on sales.

But the short term benefits are insignificant compared to the long-term value brought by a simple appearance in a TV reality show of the caliber of Undercover Boss. You see, this is not a Big Brother type of show, where the interactions are often meaningless and superfluous. The Undercover Boss is a lesson in business management, and the main idea of the show is that you cannot lead a successful business if you don’t know the employees who power it. These are the public face of the company, and everything they do reflects on the company’s very identity. From customer care to packaging, a company leader needs to know whether the employees are doing their jobs right, and also to take care that their needs are being met:

I guess the biggest takeaway from each of the jobs I have had so far is that we need to make sure the person doing the job knows he/she is contributing to the big picture and also that they understand that the company is thankful for the job they are doing and recognizes the role they play. This is most important. At the end of the day, people want to go home knowing that what they did was valued. I need for our team to know that I value them and without them, 1-800-Flowers.com cannot be the company we are today and the company we want to be tomorrow. – wrote McCann in his last Journal from the show entry.

This goes to show that the best PR for a company starts from within, from the way leaders and employees interact. You cannot lead without listening – McCann already knew this (past success stories of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM are proof).

There’s a lot to learn from this show, not only from Chris McCann’s incognito mission. But most importantly, there is a lot to learn from 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, a company that also engages the online media successfully. Apparently, 1-800 Flowers attracts 78% of new customers via online channels, as Brainchild Group reported recently. Not only this, but the company is also engaging its customers to provide feedback directly:

Share your 1800Flowers.com experiences – let us know how we can improve our business, whether you have an idea about our products, operations, and marketing.

The company has a powerful Facebook presence, with over 30,000 Facebook group members. Things are a bot different on Twitter (only 3500 followers), but we have all reasons to believe that this will change soon. Among the PR firms who 1800 Flowers has engaged is MWW PR, the Michael Kempner lead New Jersey based PR agency.

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