Why Can’t Employee Communications Be Exciting?

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PepsiCo Foods’ Joan Cetera chips away at outdated notions of internal comms.

 

Diane Schwartz, CEO, Ragan Communications

It was about 365 days ago that Joan Cetera was called into the first of what would be hundreds of COVID-19 team calls among the designated crisis chiefs of staff across PepsiCo’s global footprint.

At first, most of the updates were coming from the team in Asia. “We were keeping an eye on things and then it quickly escalated, becoming top-of-mind every day, and it continues to be,” recalls Cetera, who is vice president of communications for PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay and Quaker units, PepsiCo Foods North America. “The pandemic has permeated everything we do in the communications department.”

From disseminating information on availability of PPE and hand sanitizers to office closings and virtual town halls, Cetera and her team have produced an unprecedented amount of internal and external content. Getting word out quickly—and accurately—to field leaders and managers while keeping employees engaged and productive is no small feat.

The keys, says Cetera, are accuracy and speed. “Tell your associates before you tell it in a press release. We need to ensure employees are among the first to know important company information and for leaders to not be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know.’”

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