PR Lessons from Lyft

I had completely forgotten about Lyft’s IPO today until I was checking email and received a message from the company. Thinking it was more spam, I was about to “unsubscribe” when its news caught my eye as an excellent PR lesson for other companies. In the email, Lyft announced as part of their IPO they were granting cash bonuses to their most dedicated drivers to thank them for their help and service to their cities. They took advantage of the message to remind their audience of what they’ve been doing right since 2012, and announced Lyft City Works, a commitment to give $50 million a year or 1 percent of profits (whichever is greater) to grassroots transportation initiatives in their partner cities. Think about it. Today, Lyft had an opportunity to dominate the financial news with its IPO, which successfully opened much higher than their offering price. If they had only focused on the IPO and spent the time bragging on the fact that they beat Uber to the market, they would have gotten plenty of news. But they expanded their story by taking advantage of the momentum, which provided an excellent spotlight for them to showcase their corporate culture, new corporate giving initiatives and maybe even win new fans along the way.

Lessons learned:

Always stay humble and kind: Even when you have news to brag about, which in this case is Lyft’s IPO and beating Uber to the market, using it as an opportunity to put the spotlight on how you will benefit others – with driver bonuses and investments in grassroots transportation initiatives – will keep the announcement in the news longer and leave a positive impression. 

Timing is everything: Lyft could have announced Lyft City Works at any time, but taking advantage of the nation’s financial stage during the IPO when all eyes are on the company to make the announcement was the smart strategy.

Repeat, repeat, repeat: Your company might be doing amazing things, and you might have announced it years ago, but keep repeating the good you do when you provide company background. People remember bad news a lot longer than they remember good news, so remind them as frequently as possible within the right context.  

Marisa Vallbona, APR, Fellow PRSAis founder and president of CIM Inc PR, a full-service integrated marketing communications firm serving world renowned brands and start start ups. She has won the public relations industry’s top awards and has been featured in the media and book Alpha Dogs: How Your Small Business Can Become A Leader of The Pack. Follow her on Instagram,LinkedIn,Twitterand YouTube.