When delivering messaging and sharing news during the COVID-19 crisis, it’s crucial to take advantage of any resource available to break through the noise.
For PepsiCo, a key partnership with actor John Krasinski and his online show “Some Good News” provided the perfect opportunity to boost messages about the good work the corporation has been doing in communities across the country during this crisis.
We recently spoke with Gina Judge, senior director of communications for PepsiCo Global Foodservice, who shared how the company was able to work with Krasinski to share some positivity and boost its message about the company’s CSR efforts.
Here’s what she had to say:
PR Daily: How did PepsiCo identify Krasinski and Some Good News as the right partners for this effort?
Judge: The stars aligned late on a Friday afternoon. We’d already been working with Guy Fieri on the Restaurant Relief Fund (RERF). So SGN approached us to ask if we’d team up with them to provide even more support to restaurant workers who so badly need it right now.
We knew John’s new show had been striking a heartfelt chord with people everywhere. When I watched it with my family, it was clear why it’s been catching on. You literally can’t stop smiling or shedding poignant tears of joy. The passion of the show’s producers, who are all volunteers, to use their reach to generate more positive impact and truly partner with us to multiply support for the RERF convinced us to quickly increase our financial commitment and fundraising efforts in time for the [April 26] show.
PR Daily: How has this campaign been different from other charitable efforts PepsiCo has done in the past?
Judge: With this unprecedented situation, almost everything we’ve done with our community partners has been different from what we’ve done in the past.
The scope of the impact requires us to make sure every dollar we give quickly goes to resources for those who need it most. On top of that, we want to make our investments work harder by catalyzing others to give because the need is so great. We’re playing to our strengths by combining our resources, capabilities and expertise to shine a light on the problems and get more people involved in helping to solve them.
The various problems created by this crisis are so massive it truly requires a collective effort from businesses, nonprofits, citizens, and in this case a new model of a media partner, to turn the tide.
PR Daily: How did PepsiCo choose restaurant relief for its COVID-19 message? How are you thinking about authenticity?
Judge: This is one part of PepsiCo’s more than $50 million in COVID-19 relief initiatives that are primarily focused on providing food and other vital resources for those in need.
We have thousands of restaurant partners, so we knew firsthand how difficult this has been for owners and operators, as well as industry workers. In the episode, John Krasinski said it best: “These are the people who once defined your neighborhood and are now defining humanity.” We think of restaurants and their teams as an extended part of our family. We want the people who serve us at our favorite gathering places to get through this.
As a company, we’ve been purpose driven for many years. For us, authenticity is about putting people in the center of everything we do, from our employees and consumers to our partners and communities. Empathy has been a motivating force behind our marketing communications in recent years and that has only intensified since the crisis began.
PR Daily: How important is it for these kinds of campaigns to have a media element? Why work with Krasinski instead of looking at a more traditional media outlet?
Judge: In a very short amount of time, John and his SGN team have attracted a huge following by bringing some positivity and joy to this dire situation. They’re focused on humanity, joy and smiles. Everyone who works on the show is a volunteer. This wasn’t a traditional earned or paid integration. This was a mission-driven partnership to mobilize a movement for good in a way that really connects with people’s hearts and minds.
PR Daily: What lessons have you learned from working on this campaign?
Judge: An organization the size of PepsiCo has learned to be more agile than ever in this crisis. I sent an email Friday night and had approval Saturday morning because our senior leaders care deeply about doing the right thing, and finding unique opportunities to inspire others to join forces.
“Some Good News” is not your traditional media outlet, so we had to trust the intentions and their process. They’ve accomplished amazing things in a very short amount of time, and they’re using their influence to propel others to do the same.
In the first few weeks of the COVID-19 quarantine, everyone was in crisis mode and we took extra care in how we communicated because we were all processing the gravity of what was happening. I’ve learned from my colleagues and the SGN team that we can respect the human suffering while also finding ways to smile through the toughness of it all. This is what will help us be resilient and come out on the other side of this.
PR Daily: What advice do you have for brand managers who are trying to have an impact on this current crisis?
Judge: Find the intersections of relevance. Be clear on what’s important to your brand or business, and understand what need can you help fill. Our world is forever changed, and the way we connect with teammates, consumers and the community at large may be as well.
Think about those new dynamics. Find ways to partner with others who have shared values.
PR Daily: Anything else to add?
Judge: Think about that waiter, barista, cook, hostess, cashier who used to make your day. To date, more than 60,000 restaurant workers have registered to apply for a RERF grant. When the Fund’s website opened, it received applications at the rate of more than 40 per second – a clear sign of just how hard restaurant workers have been hit by this crisis. The need is great. Help us #RaisetheRERF, please donate at https://rerf.us/make-a-donation/.