Coffee Break: Walgreens Boots Alliance’s Aaron Radelet on the upsurge of comms during the crisis

“These stories are deeply inspirational.”

Aaron Radelet joined Coffee Break to discuss the role of pharmacies when vaccines appear and how his comms team has proved its mettle during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Radelet has not stopped going to the office. While many have isolated themselves at home to work remotely, he has been clocking in daily, safe in the knowledge that the protocols in Walgreens Boots Alliance’s offices mirror those being used in their stores around the world.

“I’ve been one of the very few people on our floor here,” said Radelet. “That, in addition to the extensive cleaning procedures we’ve implemented, makes me feel safe. In fact, the only issue is that the motion sensor lights keep turning off because there’s nobody here.”

Illumination challenges aside, Radelet and his comms team have been busy increasing internal communications, adding virtual roundtables for employees to voice their concerns, creating a global leadership team to bring the best minds together as a unified front, and perhaps most importantly, highlighting the stories of employees across social media.

“These stories are deeply inspirational,” said Radelet. “For someone like myself who isn’t at the stores every day, being able to see what’s happening allows me to get out of bed in the morning because I truly understand how much we’re genuinely helping people.”

That help is going to grow exponentially the moment a vaccine appears. 

“We’re already doing a lot of testing; we’re going to build that out even more. As soon as a vaccine comes, we’ll be ready to go,” explained Radelet assuredly.

As a global brand operating in 25 different countries with a large presence in China, stateside operations had the advantage of watching what was happening on the other side of the world, and implementing best practices for when the virus hit the U.S.

“As the virus started rolling around the globe, that was an enormous advantage,” said Radelet, noting that sharing best practice has never been more central to saving lives.

Radelet reflects on all of this and more in Coffee Break, a weekly 15-minute intermission in your working day to discover more about PR pros occupying interesting roles across the industry, live each Wednesday morning by 11:00am ET.

To suggest a guest for Coffee Break, pitch steve.barrett@prweek.com.

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