Coca-Cola’s DeAnn Baxter on CSR and PR

For our final general meeting of the year, our own 2003 Chapter President, DeAnn Baxter, APR, joined us as our speaker. Baxter is the manager of Public Affairs and Communications at Coca-Cola Refreshments for the Pittsburgh area.

Baxter started by introducing the mission of Coca-Cola: Refresh the world, inspire moments of optimism and happiness, create value and make a difference.

The mission statement is important to every aspect of communication in an organization. Coca-Cola is one of the most socially responsible companies in the world. They do so much to give back to the community. They work with children, education, and the environment by contributing grants, hosting contests, giving foundation money, and focusing on sustainability.

For example, since the polar bear has been part of the Coca-Cola brand during the holidays for such a long time, the company uses its prominence to work with the World Wildlife Fund to save the species. If the polar bear is on the packaging of your Coke product, you can use My Coke Rewards to donate money to the cause.

Coca-Cola also works with Boys & Girls Club, the National Park Foundation, Triple Play, Rails to Trails Conservancy and more.

After talking about Coca-Cola, Baxter gave tips on how to make it through school, your first job and the rest of your career:

At School

  • Find your passion and make it your career. Figure that out, and you’ll spend the rest of your life doing something you love.
  • Your GPA will not matter after college, so try new things. Take interesting and unique classes because you can.
  • It’s never too early to intern. Don’t be afraid. The worst someone can say is “no.”
  • Use professional career resources — not your parents. Parents mean well, but professionals will get you on the right path for you.
  • Know where to look for jobs. Get a mentor to help you in this area.

Your First Job

  • You only get one chance to make a first impression. Be prepared and ask lots of questions when you start.
  • You will have to pay your dues. Start in an entry level, but use small opportunities to impress people. You’ll excel quickly when you get noticed.
  • Understand you will work with people from all different backgrounds. Not everyone will understand public relations like you do. Be patient.

Your Career

  • If you decide to seek out an advanced degree or an APR accreditation, do it for you, not because you think it’s necessary.
  • Specialization is not always necessary. Don’t pigeon hole yourself because big projects require all hands on deck.
  • Performance excellence in your current role is your best asset.
  • Establish your own Board of Directors. Find people you can count on to help you succeed.
  • Nobody is as invested in your career as you.

Your career can take you in an endless amount of directions. For Baxter, it led her to Cola-Cola, where she loves her job. Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself, and you will go far.

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