ATLANTA: The United Parcel Service has hired Deisha Barnett as VP of strategic communications.
Starting at UPS on June 1, she will report to Malcolm Berkley, the president of media, investor and crisis communications. Supervising a team of nine people, Barnett will lead editorial content and corporate messaging, along with media relations for the company's people, culture, DEI, ESG and social impact initiatives.
Barnett’s position was newly established as part of a restructuring of the company’s global communications team, led by Laura Lane, the chief corporate affairs, communications and sustainability officer.
Barnett is joining UPS from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. She joined the Chamber in 2016 as SVP of marketing and communications. Since then, she was promoted to chief brand and communications officer and head of diversity and inclusion. As the Chamber’s first head of DEI, she helped establish an internal DEI working group, a DEI roundtable and the ATL Action for Racial Equity program.
Barnett is credited with leading the creation of metro Atlanta ambassadors for Super Bowl LII and relaunching a campaign called ChooseATL, which focused on attracting and retaining young professionals to the city. Barnett also emphasized a data-driven approach to promoting the Atlanta metro area in social media and in mainstream news.
Her last day at the Chamber will be May 21. The Chamber is conducting a search to fill Barnett’s position. In the interim, beginning May 26, the brand communications team will report to Dan Corso, the president of the Atlanta Sports Council, the Chamber’s nonprofit sports division. Marshall Guest, SVP at the Chamber, will also serve as a strategic adviser.
Previously, Barnett worked in communications at Walmart for more than nine years. Her responsibilities included directing comms strategy for the biggest shopping events of the year, and leading the retail giant’s giving and diversity initiatives. She ultimately became a senior director in corporate communications.
Earlier in her career, she worked with internet service provider EarthLink, managing corporate communications; and as an account executive at Ketchum.
Barnett was a PRWeek 40 Under 40 honoree in 2015.
In December 2020, UPS promoted Berkley to his position and Kara Gerhardt Ross to president of international communications, digital and executive affairs. Both are long-time staff members.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, UPS had a strong past year. The corporation reported Q1 2021 consolidated revenue of $22.9 billion. This represented a 27% increase over Q1 2020.
Editor's note: This story was updated on May 6 to clarify Barnett's media relations responsibilities.