ChapStick Plays With Social Media Fire, Gets Burned

With the evolution of social media, large companies were forced to adopt a new framework of consumer engagement where  the flow of information isn’t always “top-down.” In fact, most often it’s “bottom-up.” So when companies open the gateways for this two-way flow of dialogue, it’s important that they:

  • Validate consumers’ opinions (i.e. allowing for a public criticism via social media channels)
  • Engage (after all, this is inherent to the social media DNA by virtue of being “social”)
Reviewing these two essential qualities, it is clear why consumers were less than happy with ChapStick’s rapid-fire attempt to delete critical comments on its Facebook page for including the below image of a woman looking for her ChapStick. (Photo courtesy of AdWeek).

While the photo isn’t crude per-say, it is understandable that consumers might be taken aback by Chapstick’s bold post of a woman’s behind. After all, the brand name alone has  become synonymous with an entire category of lip protectants and has this wholesome, nostalgic sentiment to it.

Where ChapStick goes wrong (but eventually apologies for) is its silencing of the community. Here’s why:

  • As a brand, you enter into a contract with the community – whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. By “liking” or “following” the brand, consumers have agreed to hear your marketing schtick so long as you offer them great deals, some laughs and fun contests along the way. By taking away their voice, the brand has effectively broken the contract and runs the risk of losing brand favor in the future. 
  •  The Internet is virtual cement. While ChapStick’s comment-deleting frenzy happened in less than a millisecond measured by Internet time, the event will forever be captured by the SEO gods, reincarnated in Google searches for years to come.
Were you one of the silenced consumers on ChapStick’s Facebook page? If so, how did this affect your brand loyalty, if at all?

Coming back, a bit more enlightened

After a flurry of summer activities, job interviews and family festivities, I’m back.

Since graduation, I’ve moved to Seattle and begun my internship at Edelman on the Corporate + Public Affairs team. Now, with some agency time logged and roughly two years in the industry, I’m ready to start talking about industry trends, strategies and tactics.

So much is changing in the world of P.R. Just in the past year, we’ve had Domino’s Pizza and B.P. to remind us of the importance of crisis communications.

But P.R. is more than just knowing how to put out a fire. Corporations are people in the eyes of the law. They have moral codes as defined through their company values, and they are social. Social media in itself is a tangled web. All participants within a corporation–executives, clients, employees, etc.–have something to say, and a vehicle to say it. Implementing a social media policy is more important now than ever.

The face of P.R. continues to evolve, from creative pseudo events to high-level thought leadership strategies.

This is my space to think out loud. Stay tuned.

Coffee to drive for in McMinnville

With finals rapidly approaching, students are looking for ways to amp up their caffeine-fueled study sessions. But there are more places to get a caffeine jolt than just Starbucks and Dutch Bros.

These quaint drive-thrus are serving up rich espresso in dessert form, helping to take the edge off stress and provide the concentration necessary to power through final projects, essays and exams.

These shops run specials daily, too, making them a budget-friendly way to study.

Southside Java

Location: Highway 99 W in the Bi-Mart parking lot.

Hours: 5 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday through Sunday.

Description: The baristas are friendly, efficient and creative, serving drinks like Pirates Revenge, which is a mix of espresso, milk, butternut, hazelnut and praline. Other specialty drinks include the Twix Remix (white chocolate, caramel and peanut butter), as well as the Grasshopper (chocolate mint). All drinks can be made hot, blended or iced.

The stand’s signature brew is Longbottom Coffee. But if you want to cut back on your caffeine intake, the barista recommends the chai because they use the brand “Big Train,” which is more of a sweet and spicy powder mixture.

Specials: Buy one, get one on Thursdays and Sundays.

Java Expresso

Location: Highway 99W in the Little Caesar’s parking lot.

Hours: 5 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

Description: This stand is consistently busy on any given morning, and the baristas are lively and friendly despite the rush. They serve anything from your traditional flavored mochas and lattes to Iced Kahlua and Frappe Freezes. If you’re looking for a steady buzz, order a “Depth Charge,” which is black coffee and shots of espresso. Java Expresso’s signature brew is Bella selva Coffee.

Specials: Monday mocha 16 oz. for $2.75

Tuesday: Flavored Latte for $2.75

Wednesday: Flavored Mocha for $2.75

Thursday: Buy one, get one for $1

Friday: Double vanilla latte for $2.75

Saturday: Dependent on weather

Sunday: White mocha for $3

Leann’s Lattes

Location: Highway 99W near Wal-Mart

Hours: 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 5:30-6 p.m. Saturday; 8-3 p.m. Sunday

Description: The name may say latte, but this coffee stand is re-defining the concept of coffee, with drinks like the Chunky Monkey (white mocha, almond and banana flavoring) or the German Chocolate. All specialty drinks can be made hot, iced or blended.

Specials: Monday: Mocha for $2.50

Thursday: buy one, get one for $1

Sunday: buy one, get one for $1

All other day’s specials are decided that day.


Location: 2nd street and Highway 99W.

Hours: 5:30-6 p.m. Monday through Friday; Sunday 8-3 p.m.

Description: This drive thru has an extensive list of specialty drinks, ranging from the Snickers to the Almond Joy and White Angel (white mocha and caramel). If you like the taste of coffee with some added flavor and tons of caffeine, order a Toddy – hot or iced. Baristas here are friendly and fast workers. Don’t forget to show your student ID because Linfield students receive a 25 percent discount.

Specials: Depends on the day, but it is usually a 16 oz mocha or latte for $2.25.

The perfect pairing: coffee and biscotti

Coffee is a great afternoon pickup — and there’s no better way to enjoy a 2 p.m. brew than with a snack.

Biscotti originates from the Tuscan region of Italy and is essentially a sweet, dry cookie that’s great for dunking.

But the term “biscotti” is more of a generic term in Italy. The common name is “cantucci.”

One could argue that any type of cookie can be enjoyed with coffee, which is true. But biscotti is an exceptional pairing because its sweet, dry texture cuts through the acidity of the brew and crumbles in your mouth.

So, I decided to try making it myself using an online recipe for chocolate hazelnut biscotti. Instead of hazelnuts, I substituted almonds for personal preference.

Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

Problems I encountered:

  • No baking powder
  • No electric mixer

The flavor of the hazelnut and creamy chocolate provided a rich contrast to the coffee. But, I was not successful in replicating the dry texture of biscotti. Later i discovered that’s because there are two types of biscotti — those made with butter, and those without.

Instead, they resembled brownies more than anything.

But who says you can’t dunk a brownie?

Check out my biscotti-making adventure in this video.

Espresso machine 911: Safety tips

After 5 years in the coffee business, you’d think I’ve either a) seen it all or b) narrowly escaped severe injury when working with 200-degree beverages.

Well, I was wrong.

Sure, I’ve poured my fair share of scalding coffee on my fingertips while in a sleepy daze at 5 a.m., but that just helped increase my pain threshold when pulling cookies out of the oven.

This is much worse.

One evening while brewing espresso, I noticed the steam wand wasn’t hissing as usual. Quickly I realized something was wrong.

Was it lack of water? Was something wrong with the pressure?

I knew I had to be cautious, as the warning label clearly stated, “Warning: To avoid injury, relieve pressure before removing cap or brew basket.”

Well, the machine had been on for about 10 minutes, so I thought it a good idea to let it cool before I investigated.

I didn’t wait long enough.

As soon as I slightly twisted the cap, a rush of steam exploded from the top of the machine. The lid wobbled violently as if it were about to shoot off.

My initial thought? If I don’t do something to remove this lid, I am going to be crying on the way to the ER after a violent injury from a deadly espresso machine cap.

So I bravely continued unscrewing the cap as steam cooked my flesh.

Lessons learned:

1. ALWAYS read the warning label.

2. Obey the warning label to the highest degree.

3. Grab a towel or some sort of shield when close to steam.

4. Steam burns hurt.

The aftermath

Immediately after the initial cold water treatment

The warning

Decoding the coffee lingo: How to order like a pro

We’ve all been there — it’s 7 a.m., and all you want is a tall drip when the person in front of you boldly states, “I’d like a decaf, triple, grande, soy, three-pump mocha, no-whip mocha.”

You’re supposed to be impressed, but really you just feel inferior.

As a former barista, I can say that one of the most difficult aspects of serving these high-maintenance drinks is that most customers don’t remember what they ordered by the time they go to pick up their drink.

So, in an effort to promote a more efficient cafe experience, here are the coffee lingo basics:

A latte = milk + espresso + syrup flavor (optional)

A mocha = milk + espresso + chocolate + whipped cream

An americano = espresso + water

An espresso macchiato = espresso + a dollop of foamed milk

How to decode a drink

Often times, the type of drink (latte, mocha, etc.) is the last thing a barista calls out. Instead, the barista starts with all of the modifications to the original beverage. The order goes:

1. Size

2. Syrup (number of pumps if different than standard and flavor)

3. Milk (if different than standard, which is usually 2 percent)

4. Custom (such as extra hot, no foam, extra foam, etc.)

5. Drink type

So, a tall, two-pump vanilla, non-fat, no-foam latte is simply that — it’s a regular latte with an added flavor (vanilla — but not too much vanilla) with non-fat milk instead of 2 percent. Oh, and they don’t want any foam.

It’s not so hard after all.

In my slideshow, I demonstrate how to make a vanilla mocha — a drink that sounds somewhat customized yet familiar.

Coffee versus energy drinks and soda: The battle of caffeine

As a college student, I’ve become privy to minimizing costs and maximizing benefits — especially when it comes to coffee.

Most college students have developed a loyalty to a particular caffeinated beverage, from soda to energy drinks and coffee.

So, when push comes to shove, which is more cost effective? If coffee is the drink of choice, which type of brew do you choose? And if you don’t drink energy drinks, soda or coffee, what type of tea can give you that necessary jolt?

Before we delve in to caffeine measurements, we need to know what’s considered standard for a day’s intake. Between 200 and 300 mg of caffeine a day is plenty — just 100 mg is enough to make a person dependent.

Coffee caffeine content:

  • Espresso (2 oz) – 45 – 100 mg. That means about one latte a day is enough to get you hooked.
  • Brewed coffee (8 oz) – 60 – 100 mg
  • Decaf coffee (8 oz) – 1 – 5 mg. And yes, decaffeinated coffee has caffeine

Soda (for 12 oz cans)

  • Coca Cola – 34 mg
  • Pepsi – 38 mg

Energy drinks

  • 5 hour energy (2 oz) -138 mg
  • Amp (8.4 oz) – 75 mg
  • Monster (16 oz) – 160 mg
  • Red Bull (8.4 oz) – 80 mg


  • Black (8 oz) – 45 mg
  • Green (8 0z) – 20 mg
  • White (8 oz) – 15 mg

When you consider that the average prices of these beverages, it becomes clear that either coffee or tea is the most frugal way to get your jolt.

Average prices:

Latte – $3

Brewed coffee – $2

Soda – $2

Energy drink – $3

Tea – $1

Ounce for ounce, milligram for milligram, coffee and tea win out.

The battle between coffee and the energy drink:

An impromptu afternoon delight

Coffee and dessert have made a perfect matrimony since before gelato affogato.

It’s that bitter, earthy flavor contrast with sweet cream that gets me every time. So naturally when I discovered I had all the fixings for an impromptu coffee dessert, I had to try it.

Affogato in Italian means “drowned,” and generally refers to a coffee dessert with a shot or two of espresso poured over the top.

After checking my fridge, I was delighted to find some leftover Dulce de Leche from my last recipe extravaganza.

Whereas affogato usually has more ice cream than coffee, I decided to create a caramel-flavored coffee with ice cream on the side.

The ingredients:

  • Freshly brewed coffee
  • Dulce de Leche
  • Skinny Dippers popcicles
  • Whipped cream

The assembly is so amazingly simple, too.

1. Pour coffee into desired glass.

2. Mix in 1 to 2 tbs. of Dulce de Leche.

3. Unwrap Skinny Dipper and submerge in coffee.

4. Top with whipped cream.

5. Enjoy.

Enjoying coffee and dessert doesn’t have to cost you $10 for a pint of ice cream and a latte.

Get creative with what you have at home instead.

The top view

The glass

A new toy: The ‘AeroPress’

Once I had reviewed the primary brewing methods, I thought I’d covered it all.


I was as jubilant as a humming bird to learn about the ‘AeroPress‘ (and secretly mortified it’s been around since 2005 without me knowing).

Fortunately, the person who tipped me off about the press also owns one, so I was able to give it a try for myself.

My initial impression from the name was that it was an imitation French press, but the the box describes it as a “coffee and espresso maker.”

I was skeptical.

The AeroPress‘ flavor is supposed to set itself apart from other brewing methods because it is:

-Less acidic than coffee (it has a lower pH)

-Low bitterness

One of the AeroPress’ most marketable feature is its ability to brew in 30 seconds or less — but that seems overstated from my experience.


-The assembly time is much more involved than a French press, espresso machine or coffee maker.

-The cleanup

-The stacks of filters and the multiple equipment components.

-The plunger gets stuck


-Quick brew time

-Smooth flavor

-Versatility — you can make lattes, americanos and straight espresso.

The instructions provided in the package are simple:

1. Remove plunger and the cap from the chamber.

2. Put a filter in the cap and twist it onto the chamber.

3. Stand the chamber on a sturdy mug.

4. Add two scoops of fine-drip grind coffee.

5. Pour hot water into the chamber.

6. Stir the water.

7. Insert the plunger and press down, maintaining the same pressure for 20 to 30 seconds.

8. Drink the americano, or add milk to make a latte.

The idea for the brewing device is certainly innovative and fun — I just don’t see myself stumbling into my kitchen half asleep starting my coffee this way.

It’s too involved for the morning. Oh, and it costs between $25 and $30 — the same for a drip maker.

The Aeropress

Check out my slideshow of using the AeroPress here.

Coffee and caffeine health 101: Good and bad any way you mix it

As with all addictions, there are varying levels of commitment to the vice.

But unlike most addictions, coffee has its benefits, too.

The avid drinker not only appreciates how coffee induces alertness, but also how emotionally uplifting it can be – just a 6 ounce cup can do the trick.

At the same time, coffee can make us restless and anxious when it’s time to hit the hay.

And have you ever noticed how the elixir makes you jittery if you drink it without eating? Body weight and food consumption play a large role in sensitivity to caffeine.

Frequent drinkers suffer pounding headaches that could last from a day to a week.

But, research results suggest that coffee can reduce your risk of developing diabetes, insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome by roughly 50 percent.

Caffeine in coffee is beneficial for exercise as well by improving muscular capacity.

Drinking coffee regularly helps to fulfill daily fluid requirements, too.

One concern among the coffee community is the speculation about French press coffee because it doesn’t use a filter, which means that higher levels of cafestol enter the coffee.

Cafestol is a substance that resides in the oily fraction of coffee that stimulates LDL cholesterol levels. So, if you’re struggling with your cholesterol levels, you should consider choosing filtered or instant coffee.

Aside from its ability to produce energy, coffee is also beneficial in that it is loaded with antioxidants, which are usually associated with fruits and vegetables.

One 2005 study showed Americans received more antioxidants from coffee than fruits or vegetables.

Any way you mix it, there are pros and cons. So, my final words of advice: drink at your own risk.

Photo courtesy of Claire Oliver