The How: PepsiCo’s Recipe for Recruitment Starts With Plantains
For the how, Brewster from Pace spoke with PepsiCo’s Roggendorf on the topic “Strategic Employee Storytelling for Talent Engagement and Brand Building.”
Roggendorf shared with the audience the story behind their PepsiCo Stories site, shining a light on how PepsiCo has recently been able to successfully infuse brand purpose in their talent attraction and engagement efforts.
But first, let me provide some context.
The PepsiCo Talent Attraction and Engagement team was looking to “pull back the curtain” and better showcase why the company is such a great place to work. The PepsiCo Jobs site at the time was too focused on job listings, and the goal was to transform it in a way that would help candidates better understand the roles they’re interested in along with the vibrant culture at the massive CPG company. And so, with the help of Pace, the PepsiCo Stories site was launched in October 2020.
So back to the how.
The PepsiCo Stories site embodies a solid content strategy centered around the brand’s purpose and its central pillars or anchors—social impact, innovation and culture—being brought to life by the layered stories of real employees. It very selectively addresses the subjects their audience—both passive and active talent—cares about with real-life examples from within the company becoming a sort of content anchor for all things talent attraction and engagement.
My favorite example that Roggendorf and Brewster shared during their presentation was their discussion of the NatuChips story from their “Seed to Shelf” series, which seeks to show products from inception to when they hit the shelf and “all the hands that touch [them] along the way.”
Sustainability being one of PepsiCo’s key promises globally and among the most prominent questions asked by talent, the NatuChips story dives deep and tells the story of this popular Latin American snack brand while showing how that promise is fulfilled and so much more.
Through the NatuChips story, we learn how fresh plantains are sourced locally from small hillside farms in the West Andes, continuing an agricultural tradition in the area reaching back 130 years. We also learn how, since 2008, PepsiCo has partnered with nonprofit Asplabel to staff their processing plant with 50 mothers, indigenous women and female heads-of-household, most of whom came from far away to escape armed conflict and violence between government military and guerrilla groups.
For recruiters, not just in Latin America, but everywhere, the NatuChips story is a powerful example they can use to clearly show top candidates across the globe the success PepsiCo can bring to a community or to an individual employee. It provides an authentic and human view of the brand, leaning into different aspects that are important to the company and that fit in within those content strategy anchors—a global perspective as well as social impact, represented here through PepsiCo’s work in empowering women and its sustainability initiatives.
“We know that’s what talent asks … They want to know those stories … They want to understand the purpose agenda of the companies they’re interviewing with,” Roggendorf explained. She added that different content series like “Seed to Shelf” help bring the purpose that already exists at PepsiCo to life for talent. The site also serves as a great opportunity to showcase how PepsiCo not only talks the talk but walks the walk when it comes to the issues that matter the most to prospect talent.
Although predominantly centered on long-form content, the PepsiCo Stories site also includes powerful visuals, including animations, to further bring these stories to life. And the success of the site led to other conversations between Pace and the PepsiCo Talent Attraction and Engagement team around exploring additional mediums and channels to amplify employee stories, including social media. They’ve been able to keep producing videos during COVID-19 using techniques that put the power to film in the hands of the employees and while keeping everyone safe from the virus. That willingness to keep content creation going isn’t surprising to me, given the Talent Attraction and Engagement team’s firm belief that they must get out of the way of the employees so they can tell their own stories. Content “[Is] not created by corporate communications. It’s created by my [PepsiCo] colleagues. It’s not this top-down approach. You really do get a more authentic view of the brand,” she said. “This is really where the authenticity comes in.”
For me, this echoed the previous day’s session in Content+ with filmmaker Katherine Fairfax Wright, who talked about how much more effective documentary-style brand storytelling is when it’s unscripted, unrehearsed and unstructured. While it’s tempting for brands to want to put words in their advocates’ mouths, the customer or employee experience is much more compelling when it comes directly from a person being their real self on camera, or in any medium for that matter.
I think that’s truly the magic behind the success of the PepsiCo Stories site and our work with the PepsiCo Talent Attraction and Engagement team. That’s the secret sauce and the reason why this is such a great example of the how, of how to actually put brand purpose in action.