Sean Greenwood/Ben & Jerry’s Program Recap

Sean Greenwood/Ben & Jerry’s Program Recap

Ben & Jerry’s Sweet and Cool PR Strategies with PR Poobah Sean Greenwood

Thursday, September 10, 2020 | 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.


Top Takeaways:

  • Think about what your company’s core values are and let those guide your vision.
  • If you’re asking what the ROI is for service to your community, you’re doing it wrong.
  • It’s not about being perfect, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes – learn from experts and do something impactful.


Chapter President Drew Piers, APR, welcomed the more than 50 attendees (from as far away as London!) and shared these announcements:

  • Our next webinar will be at 11 a.m. on Friday, September 18. Our speaker will be Adrian Parker, who is the Global VP of Marketing for Patrón Tequila and a FAMU alum!
  • It’s time to renew your membership! If you renew this month, you could win a pint of your favorite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and an opportunity to be featured on the chapter’s website. Renew online today!
  • LeadershipFPRA applications are due November 1, 2020. More info here.
  • If you’re interested in earning your APR or CPRC this year, email Director of Accreditation Kelly Corder, APR, at [email protected].

Director of Programing Cathy Schroeder introduced our speaker, Sean Greenwood, the Grand Poobah/Director of PR & Communications for Ben & Jerry’s.

Sean began his presentation with a history of how the company was founded and how he started working there. He has been with the company since 1988!

He talked about the company’s two underlying principles:

  • “Business has a responsibility to give back to the community.”
  • “If it’s not fun, why do it?”

He also explained the three-pronged mission of Ben & Jerry’s, composed of the Economic Mission, the Product Mission, and the Social Mission. The two real men, Ben and Jerry, who started it all established a culture of corporate responsibility that has continued to this day. The approach is based on issues, such as promoting the environment, racial equity, open hiring, and refugees, rather than partisanship.

These issues drive their campaigns including but not limited to new flavors, environmentally friendly freezers, fair-trade ingredients, partnerships, events, and even public marches. They continue to innovate and succeed in business while investing in the social mission.

Sean talked about their Values-Led Activism, as opposed to cause-led marketing. If you build your brand based on what your consumers care about, you are falling short. However, if you start with your core values, and think about what impacts you can make and how you can inspire your audiences to act, then you can bring about actual progressive social change.

In their communications office, they use multimedia press releases in addition to their social media and digital/web channels. The team uses engagement and traffic analytics (time spent on page, pageviews) as well as impact metrics like signatures or voter registrations.

Other highlights from Sean:

  • It takes about one year to launch a new flavor of ice cream. Lots of planning goes into this, including ensuring you can get the fair-trade ingredients for a sustained amount of time.
  • You don’t have to be an expert in every issue, but you need to seek out information. Learn from experts about the issues. Listen to the people who are experiencing the issue.
  • Being a real company means it’s OK to talk about real issues. Educate your audiences and create tangible, interesting ways for them to get involved. You can address a serious issue in an engaging (and even fun) way.

Students received great advice, including:

  • When you’re applying for jobs, shop around and do your homework. Find out or ask how the company helps the community. Ask if they have a diversity officer.
  • When you do what you love and you work on issues that you care about, it’s easier to dive into work.

Sean answered our chapter’s many questions and even engaged with members on Twitter after the presentation! Thank you to Sean for sharing your wisdom with us, and to the Ben & Jerry’s team for showing us what true corporate social responsibility looks like.

We echo the words of Rick Oppenheim, APR, CPRC, who said during the program, “I didn’t think it was possible to increase brand loyalty even more, but you’re doing it right now!”

-Zoe Linafelt, Deputy Communications Director for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (Member Since 2012)