We did a quick and dirty analysis of the last year's worth of Rite Aid's (RAD) press releases (see links to RAD's PRs here), in order to determine how much RAD's senior management (i.e., those putting out the PRs) prioritizes improving the customer experience, versus (for example) addressing the interests of investors, employees or charities. What we found was quite interesting. Out of the approximately 60 PRs issued by RAD over the past year, only 11 were PRs announcing how RAD planned to make the customer experience better (these are highlighted in yellow at the end of this post). Some of these were generic announcements, such as the August 19th PR regarding the availability of flu shots for the winter season and the April 23rd PR regarding the cessation of the sale of smoking products to adults under age 21. Such PRs don't do much to move the sales needle, however useful they are generally. Others were of a preferable variety, trumpeting a new product or service (e.g., the PR from July 1st regarding Thrifty ice cream's introduction to the Northeast--better late during the summer season than never!) Sadly, there were far more PRs issued regarding the Rite Aid Foundation's activities than customer-facing products or initiatives. For any retailer, a "hit ratio" of just 18% (11/60) is pretty anemic and indicates that not enough attention is being paid to what really counts--the customer experience.
***BLOG INTERRUPTION: As an aside regarding the Rite Aid Foundation, please note our tweet below:***
***END BLOG INTERRUPTION***
In comparison, consider the PR strategy of a best-in-class retailer like Amazon [see links to full AMZN PRs here]. First, note that a long time ago Jeff Bezos instituted a company-wide practice regarding product development; namely, that teams had to structure their proposals for new initiatives in the form of a press release (as a thought exercise, he wanted them to imagine themselves announcing these publicly--how would they describe them in that context?). Here is a fuller description of the rationale from an ex-AMZN insider [source]:
Notice in particular the requirement that the new product or initiative must "blow away existing solutions" (aka move the needle for the customer). Also note that because AMZN has this practice in place, they (1) carefully consider whether projects are worthwhile from the customer's perspective prior to expending a significant amount of time and money on them, (2) have a roadmap to follow if the projects get greenlighted, and (3) have rudimentary PRs already drafted if and when the time comes to make actual announcements to the public.
So, moving on to the forensic analysis of AMZN's PRs vis-a-vis RAD's, we initially note just how many PRs AMZN puts out. Thus far in 2019, they have released over 200, or more than 3X the number for RAD. Granted, AMZN is a much larger company than RAD, however AMZN has always been fairly hyper about communicating with the public even when they were much smaller (in 2005, for example, they issued nearly 90 PRs). In addition, AMZN's "hit rate" appears much higher than RAD's pathetic 18%. Focusing on AMZN's PRs since the beginning of October, we calculate that their hit rate was around 55% (37/67). Thus, it appears that AMZN is far more focused than RAD on alerting the people who truly count over the long term, the customers, regarding all of the great things AMZN is creating for them. Not surprisingly, RAD distantly trails AMZN on virtually every relevant metric one could think of (including number and percentage of satisfied customers).
Below are the full results for RAD's 2019 PRs:
DISCLOSURE: Long RAD.