Do what’s right

This morning, CVS/pharmacy announced it would take a $2b hit as a result of a decision to stop selling tobacco products in its stores. It’s a triumph for consumer health and a huge win for corporate public relations teams across industries.

“We’ve come to the conclusion that cigarettes have no place in a setting where health care is being delivered,” he said. “Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health.”

Why is it a PR win?

Not for the obvious goodwill and media coverage (though it didn’t hurt). It’s a win because this is the kind of business strategy that goes against the conventional wisdom of every other division inside a company. It’s a win because it highlights the shift in today’s business environment.

Companies are beginning to see that their customers expect more from the brands they do business with. They expect them to be and act bigger than the products they sell. Today, CVS/pharmacy did just that. It took a long term stand at the expense of short term profit.

“Great companies take on the important challenges facing society.” – Richard Edelman

People have asked me, “What is it, exactly, that PR does?” What I tell them is, despite its general perception, PR advocates for common sense.


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