CEO transition

Any time a new CEO is named, market uncertainty can impact stock performance. When the company announced a new CEO — only the 5th in its 100+ year history, the news would be assessed by internal and external stakeholders, with particular attention from business press, investors and general consumer media.

To ensure confidence in leadership remained high during this transition, a strategic, thoughtful communications approach to the transition was mandatory through the development and execution of day 1 communications and a 100-day internal and external communications plan

Communications goal: Deliver clear, consistent messaging from, and about, the new CEO that would focus on merits as a business leader first, and the ability to lead a seamless transition.

Communications strategies

  • Focus CEO media opportunities on business issues and business settings, versus personality queries
  • Create targeted media opportunities with division leaders
  • Prioritize touch points with legislative, regulatory, and community leaders, to supplement customer and shareholder actions
  • Drive CEO agenda to employees


  • Core messaging focused clearly on CEO’s previous internal leadership role and collaboration as strategic architect of the Company’s current course, which generated double-digit EPS growth for more than 30 consecutive quarters. The Company’s stock grew in the hours and days following the transition announcement.
  • Associates: Following Day 1 communications, developed core message platforms and scheduled Town Hall meetings with key North American and International market associates; 90% of associates indicated they had message clarity on priorites, strengths and challenges, as measured through post survey.
  • Media: Carefully orchestrated interaction with media, focusing solely on business press first, and positioning CEO with the company’s two Division operating leaders. Business press coverage on the transition was virtually completely positive.
  • Government and Community leaders: a prioritizaion process led to a focused agenda that put the new CEO in front of key legislators and National Community Based Organizations to deliver core messages and connect directly with key constituents.
  • Through press relations, BusinessWeek awarded PepsiCo its “smoothest transition award” for the calendar year.
  • As share price increased and clear, consistent messaging resonated on Wall Street and in business press, Chairman recommended communications plan and execution results be presented to Harvard Business Review as case study for value-driving communications.