By Robert Grupp
If your company promotes a collaborative culture, stays true to its values, and employees believe in those values, your organization will be better equipped to handle the unexpected.

“Do Yourself a Flavor”
Lessons From The Grand Poobah Of PR At Ben & Jerry’s

By Robert Grupp

Time with Sean Greenwood is well spent. 

I had the pleasure of hosting the Grand Poobah of Public Relations for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream last year at the annual Summit on Strategic Communications in Washington D.C. Turns out, he presented one of our most inspiring sessions. 

“Funny, relevant, and spot on! Very enjoyable session,” said one delegate in her evaluation. “I love a social justice company that sells ice cream,” said another. “Shows how a company can be a voice for doing good and making money too!”

Perhaps what I liked most from what Sean said is that Ben and Jerry’s built itself on two principles:

  1. If it’s not fun, why do it?
  2. Business has an opportunity to give back to the community. 

Here’s more that was shared by Sean in remarks and a panel discussion:

Stand for Something

Right now, leaders are facing an ‘arms race’ for the next generation of talent. The new generation has high expectations for corporations and wants to see organizations assume a bigger purpose. If organizations don’t meet those expectations, the new generation takes action.

By having a bigger purpose, your organization can be better equipped to navigate in times of uncertainty. Remember, your organization’s mission and values should be what drives the business every single day. 

Bad things happen. Be prepared to handle negativity.

Often, companies create a mission and vision but neglect what they stand for in everyday behaviors. 

Use your mission as a touchstone. 

It’s inevitable that bad things will happen. By remembering to live by the values flowing from the mission and vision of the company, communicators and leaders will have a direction to guide them in times of crisis. By anticipating a crisis by showing that the company is prepared to do the right thing before there’s a problem, problems can be mitigated early on. 

Focus on the company values daily. Walk your talk to gain and maintain the trust of your stakeholders.

Get Outside of the Echo Chamber

It’s easy to think that everything is great at your company when you’re surrounded by people who share the same beliefs. Go outside of the bubble, and listen to what other people say about your company. Listen to what customers are saying, search social media for mentions, conduct research, and have conversations with other departments outside your headquarters. 

Employees can anticipate when something bad is going to happen. If your leadership creates a culture of open communication, you can empower employees to think from an “our company” mindset by encouraging them to speak candidly like owners and valued members of the organization. 

Actions speak louder than words, and employees are going to hold your organization accountable to do the right thing. Nobody knows an organization better than its employees. If the organization walk doesn’t match the talk, employees will be the first to tell you. 

If your company promotes a collaborative culture, stays true to its values, and employees believe in those values, your organization will be better equipped to handle the unexpected.

Not bad, from a guy who started as a factory tour guide and worked his way up to ‘Grand Poobah.

Sean Greenwood spoke in April 2019 in a plenary session at the annual strategic communications summit in Washington, D.C. Visit www.stratcomm.world to see speakers featured at StratCommWorld 2020 on June 1-2 at the National Press Club. 

ABOUT THE summit speaker

Sean Greenwood

Sean Greenwood is the Director of Public Relations & Communications for Ben & Jerry’s.



Robert Grupp

Robert Grupp is Director of StratCommWorld, and Adjunct Instructor and Director of a Global Strategic Communication Master’s Degree Program in the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida.

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