Paul Holmes 22 Apr 2012 // 11:00PM GMT
WASHINGTON, DC—The crowning achievement of Perry Yeatman’s career as the senior public relations professional at Kraft Foods will almost certainly be the company’s successful split—scheduled to take place later this year—into two separate units focused on the grocery business and the snacks business. She has already announced plans to step aside when the split is completed.
But Yeatman’s many and varied contributions at Kraft included leading the team that created the company’s current brand identity and values, as well as spearheading communications around the acquisition of UK confectionary giant Cadbury. She also helped to create the company’s the first Delicious Difference Week—a global community service initiative—and helped Kraft become an active participant at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Yeatman, who relocated from the company’s Chicago headquarters to Washington, DC, in 2010 and spearheaded the company’s external affairs activities, also served as the president of the Kraft Foods Foundation.
Her most significant contribution, however, involved positioning Kraft as a participant and a leader in the various critical issues facing American business in general and the food industry in particular.
Speaking at The Holmes Report’s ThinkTankLive conference in Washington last year, she said: “Almost all of the issues that take up our time are societal debates. If you look at our priority issues, it would be hunger and obesity, and sustainability. We are also deeply involved in food safety and diversity. None of these things is going to be solved by one company or one industry. These things only happen if you line up the private sector, the public sector and civil society…. People are recognizing that the issues are too big. Therefore we need to figure out how to play together. And be transparent about it.”
The impressive extent to which Kraft did precisely that under her leadership of the external affairs functions is a major reason that Yeatman deserves one of our 2011 SABRE Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement.
Yeatman is a devoted internationalist. She was making $25,000 per year as an account executive when she took her first job abroad. Ten years later, after postings in Singapore, Moscow and London, she was earning more than $500,000 a year and could recount experiences such as touring Bangkok with Margaret Thatcher—experiences that went into an award-winning book, Get Ahead by Going Abroad.
Before joining Kraft, Yeatman was vice president of corporate affairs at Unilever North America and worked on the agency side at Burson-Marsteller and Shandwick.
Today, she also blogs on the Huffington Post and is an active advocate for Girl Scouts and most recently served on the organization’s National Board.
The award will be presented at our annual SABRE Awards dinner, to be held May 8 at Cipriani on New York's 42nd Steet.