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Dominic Redfearn has notched up eight years as global brand and communications director at UK drinks giant Diageo. As the principal communications advisor to the CEO and global executive committee, Redfearn is responsible for reputation strategy; corporate communications; financial communications; employee engagement and internal communications; crisis and issues management; campaigning and PR; category communications; and the corporate brand, from strategy to execution. Between 2016 and 2017 he was also responsible for corporate affairs strategy across Asia-Pacific.
Redfearn is a vocal advocate of the drinks company’s 10-year sustainability plan, whose recent initiatives have included investing in a new consortium to build a groundbreaking aluminium recycling plant for its Guinness and Gordon’s pre-mixed gin cans, switching on a giant solar panel in Scotland to provide renewable energy for a packaging site, ‘tequila drones’ to make watering agave plants in Mexico more sustainable, and a partnership with Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford to develop a Sustainability Leadership Programme for Diageo’s top 600 leaders to help the firm reach its goals and embed ESG across the business.
Redfearn joined Diageo in 2007, initially as head of corporate, broadcast and digital media, thanks to his broadcast production background at Dow Jones, CNBC and Medialink. He then moved into a head of media and content role, before taking on a newly-created role in 2014 to create a stronger Diageo corporate brand, leading on the development of an integrated corporate brand and reputation strategy for the company. Redfearn is a firm believer in the role of innovation, data and analytics and digital tools to unlock value for the corporate brand, as well as Diageo’s world-famous drinks brands, which include Guinness, Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Tanqueray and Baileys.
Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR’s direct impact on business performance?
Diageo’s ‘Raising the Bar’ programme through Covid provided pubs, bars and restaurants with the advice and equipment they needed to reopen safely. This initiative helped to galvanise internal teams and increased our focus on customers. This was one of the initiatives that contributed to Diageo emerging from the pandemic 36% larger in net sales value terms.
What are the communications industry’s biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
The biggest challenges remain navigating the ongoing geo-political and economic volatility. Opportunities are there to be seized for those able to react quickly to build trust with stakeholders and win market share.
What have you most admired about the communications industry over the past year, and what has disappointed you?
The industry continues to show great creativity and resilience as it adapts to persistent economic volatility. There has been an increase in the efficiency and effectiveness of campaigns and a greater, more insight-led understanding of stakeholder impact and value. I'd like to see the industry take more of a lead in clearly defining the opportunities and risks of AI for content and communications and lobbying for appropriate safeguards where required.
What work from your team are you most proud of over the past year?
Our long-serving CEO, Sir Ivan Menezes, recently passed away and the manner with which the team, and entire company, honoured this lovely, brilliant man would have made him proud.
How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness over the past year?
Spending more time with family and friends and enjoying being in nature.
Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through the past year or provided inspiration?
You can't go wrong with Ted Lasso.
If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
A television producer.
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