Beatriz Perez | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations
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Beatriz Perez

SVP, Chief Communications, Public Affairs, Sustainability & Marketing Assets Officer
Coca-Cola
US

 

 

Beatriz Perez’s career with Coca-Cola spans more than two decades, and since May 2017 includes the iconic company’s communications responsibilities. The move happened as former president/COO James Quincey took over as CEO with a vision to turn Coca-Cola into “a total beverage company.” This also comes with a leaner operation and more a digitized business. 
Perez leads an integrated team across public affairs and communications, sustainability and partnerships. In this role, she aligns a diverse portfolio of work against critical business objectives to support brands, communities, consumers and partners worldwide.

She continues to oversee the company’s sports and entertainment assets including iconic partnerships with the Olympics, Special Olympics and FIFA, as well as continuing to lead strategic and operational efforts for the company’s retail, licensing and attractions assets. Reducing the company’s environmental impact has risen to the forefront under Perez’s watch, with the goal of recycling the equivalent of every bottle or can sold worldwide by 2030.

Perez served as the company’s first chief sustainability officer from 2011, developing and leading progress against global sustainability commitments, with a focus on water stewardship and women’s economic empowerment. Before this, she was CMO for Coca-Cola North America, where she built brands by developing some of its most historic relationships, including with American Idol and NASCAR.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
I've had the honor of leading our company's PR efforts since 2017. In that time, we've built a common narrative and coordinated our efforts to better incorporate our marketing assets. For example, we’re much more coordinated in combining our PR and public affairs efforts with the business side of our sports partnerships. We've seen uplift in our business where we've brought our social impact, narrative and marketing/sports assets together.

What do you love about this industry?
In this industry, people always are helping each other connect -- to each other, to the right agencies and to great ideas. I love how open people are about sharing ideas, as well as what didn't work. There is deep mutual respect and admiration for people across the industry.

What most frustrates you about this industry?
As someone who came to communications via marketing, I feel that communicators have so much to share with our business operators and marketers. They understand public opinion instinctively and know how to craft a strong narrative. That passion, however, requires data and operational know-how to be credible, and that’s an area where we can all get better as an industry.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities?
This is an industry that truly depends on the insights of its people, and yet we are lagging the marketplace in diversity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the public relations industry lacks diversity on most multicultural dimensions, though we’ve seen progress with respect to gender diversity. This is a challenge, but also an opportunity for the industry to become a more diverse and vibrant community.

How do you relax or change pace when you're not at work?
I love to cook! It's an activity my family and I enjoy together. Cuban food is my specialty.

Can you share a book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
I think the most valuable lesson about PR is that it is only as authentic as the company purpose and culture it reflects. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we better connect our internal and external communications strategies. To me, “The Culture Code” by Daniel Coyle and “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek are required reading. They focus on purpose and having a shared vision as a culture.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Working in sports, music or movies. I love them all.