Public Relations

Borrowing Credibility can Work Wonders

Sometimes, when your PR is stuck in a rut, it can pay to team up with other brands whose messaging and standing remain strong. That may very well be one of the reasons for a recent partnership among Uber, Starbucks, United Airlines, and OpenTable.

Uber is a fast-growing and increasingly popular transportation service. Despite its popularity however, the brand has been taking a bit of a PR roughing up recently, according to 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian. So, the company decided to put some happy vibes out in a big way. First, it publicly declared a new standard of becoming “as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone.” Then, Uber put its money where its mouth is, opening its software platform up to nearly a dozen “partner” companies, including Starbucks, United Airlines, Hyatt, and OpenTable.

So now, when you book a table using OpenTable, you can also reserve a car, to and from the restaurant. And frequent flyers can now use United’s app to find an Uber driver to pick them up or drop them off at the airport. Not only does this open Uber up to millions of new customers, it gives the beleaguered company a much-needed shot in the arm. Partnering shoulder to shoulder, or, in this case, app to app, with known and respected companies will immediately give Uber a credibility boost.

This increase in credibility, call it legitimacy by association, is powerful for a business trying to change an industry. Competitors have been trying to pick Uber off, first with nasty PR, then by trying to price them out of the market. With a fledgling client base, Uber was certainly vulnerable on its own. Now it has the backing of massive international companies, and the bonus of “value added” offers across several app interfaces.

This move will protect Uber while also upgrading its status among those who may have been reluctant to give the service a try.


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