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Since taking charge of Coca Cola's communications function in 2017, Bea Perez has ushered in a more engaging era for the soft drinks giant's public relations efforts, at a time when it is under scrutiny like never before. Having served as chief sustainability officer since 2011, Perez understands the challenges better than most, but remains tested by Coca-Cola's continued ability to make headlines when comments are taken out of context.
Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
I’ve led our company’s PR efforts since 2017. In these three years, I have seen our work being more closely tied to the business. With the launch of our revamped company purpose in 2019, we were able to insert our sustainability work even further into Coca-Cola’s ethos. Our purpose reads: “Refresh the world. Make a difference.” I don’t know how much more of an impact PR could have than that!
What are the comms industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
I think the consumer’s expectation for companies to now have a voice in social issues is a huge opportunity for the communications industry. We get to frame our organization’s perspective on historical movements. It’s a huge opportunity and responsibility. A challenge that I foresee in the year ahead is communicating with consumers who might be impacted by the economic challenges created by Covid-19. We will need to discover how best to relate to consumers in this new environment.
What have you most admired about this industry in 2020?
Communicators have stepped up this year as we manage through unprecedented times. We have publicly used our voices on issues that we typically didn’t discuss so openly before. I admire the resiliency the industry has shown this year.
How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
Our company has provided the needed flexibility to balance work and life during this time. We even implemented “Focused Fridays” which allows employees to use the first Friday of every month as a day of uninterrupted time to dedicate their day to focusing on important areas of their work or development.
Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
Sum up 2020 in one word.
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