Coke thirsts for new No. 2 to drive revamp

ATLANTA: Looking to erase memories of an embarrassing 1999 and give a voice to its new PR strategy, Coca-Cola is searching for a right-hand man for public affairs chief Carl Ware.

ATLANTA: Looking to erase memories of an embarrassing 1999 and give a voice to its new PR strategy, Coca-Cola is searching for a right-hand man for public affairs chief Carl Ware.

ATLANTA: Looking to erase memories of an embarrassing 1999 and give

a voice to its new PR strategy, Coca-Cola is searching for a right-hand

man for public affairs chief Carl Ware.



According to a spec sheet obtained by PRWeek, the new post, chief

communications officer (CCO), will operate at the VP level and report to

Ware, who rescinded his resignation and accepted the public affairs job

earlier this year (PRWeek, Jan. 10).



The vacancy resulted when VP of corporate communications Randy Donaldson

- loyal to ousted CEO M. Douglas Ivester - was reassigned during last

winter’s management shakeup. Donaldson is now executive assistant to

North American president Ralph Cooper.



Because of restructuring in its PR department, Coke spokesperson Robert

Baskin said it ’wouldn’t be fair to say (the CCO post) is Randy’s

position.’ Regardless, the beleaguered beverage behemoth has granted the

position serious weight. The spec sheet says the CCO hire is part of a

’sweeping effort’ to improve Coke’s financial performance and

reputation.



According to the job description, the new CCO will be asked to develop

an overall communications strategy that deals with corporate reputation

and brand presence, speed up message development and delivery and act

’as a central resource to a global network of communicators charged with

tailoring messages and mediums to local markets.’



The job presents more than its share of challenges. Last week, the

company announced that it lost dollars 58 million in the first quarter

of 2000, mostly from one-time reorganization charges. And the more

nebulous issue of corporate reputation remains a thorn in Coke’s side:

in Fortune’s latest ’Most Admired’ survey, Coke fell out of the overall

top 10 for the first time in a decade.



Ware’s appointment was widely touted as the first major step towards

repairing Coke’s reputation, which had been tarnished by a contamination

crisis, racial discrimination lawsuits and various other PR gaffes

during the Ivester era.



One beverage industry analyst said Coke’s experienced PR staff is

holding up fine. ’In spite of some bumps and bruises, Coke’s PR is in

very capable hands,’ said Beverage Marketing Corporation VP Doug

Hemphill.



While Hemphill believes that there is ’a sense of urgency’ to fill the

position, Baskin would not give a timetable for the search.



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