PepsiCo : No-way dialogue

Food blog fails to deliver on hoped-for conversation with readers.

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The feature

PepsiCo, the American food and drinks giant, signposts a blog portal via a ‘Blog’ footer link on its corporate website home page. On the portal page, ‘Food Frontiers’ is one of three blogs featured in the top navigation bar. The stated aim of ‘Food Frontiers’ is to ‘engage in dialogue on technical and health policy topics involving the food industry and broader science’. Here, PepsiCo policy analysts and communications managers write about public policy issues such as tackling non-communicable diseases (eg, cancer, heart disease and diabetes), sustainable agriculture and nutrition.

On first glance, the blog appears up to date, with the most recent post flagged ‘Sep 27’, but a closer look reveals that the latest post is actually from more than two years ago: September 27th 2012. There are facilities for sharing on Twitter or Facebook, or commenting directly, but few posts have more than handful of comments, tweets or ‘likes’.

The takeaway

The Food Frontiers blog’s stated premise of starting a ‘dialogue’ contrasts starkly with the lack of posts for 24 months, and the absence of any substantial interaction with its audience.

These are the main issues with the blog, but its tone and style also do little to invite readers in (let alone inspiring comment) with jargon-filled posts that read like press releases. For example, the most recent entry is, confusingly, a blog post about another blog post, and begins: ‘Derek Yach, PepsiCo’s Senior Vice President of Global Health and Agriculture Policy recently posted, Private Sector Serious About Tackling NCDs Despite Concerns of Civil Society, on the Huffington Post’. Most others are written in this vein, and although nominally come from real people in the company, read like corporate boilerplate. A list of 27 named and pictured members of the ‘blogging team’ (including, unconvincingly, Indra Nooyi , theCEO) is initially impressive but disappoints even more in the context of the lack of recent activity.

Having very little interaction is a self-inflicted problem for PepsiCo, since corporate blogs do not need dialogue to achieve their goals. It would better to dispense with the stated aim of ‘dialogue’ altogether and focus on what makes corporate blogs successful: engaging, informal and (perhaps most important of all) frequent posts by a small number of named contributors.
First published 01 October, 2014
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