29 minutes | Oct 28th 2020

Serving Up Your Brand’s Recipe for Lasting Change With YUM! BRANDS CCO, Jerilan Greene [Episode 25]

Jerilan Greene is the Global Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer of Yum! Brands, Inc., parent company of the iconic KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell brands that also recently acquired fast-casual concept The Habit Burger Grill. Jerilan leads the company’s global reputation-building and oversees global communications, crisis management, government affairs, and the company’s ESG and sustainability strategies.

Jerilan served as the lead communications architect for the spinoff of Yum!’s China business into an independent company in 2016 and the multi-year strategy for global growth to transform Yum! into a capital-light, pure-play franchisor. Prior to Yum! Brands, Jerilan was Executive Vice President at global communications firm Edelman. She has also held leadership positions at Deloitte, Burson-Marsteller, and Willis Towers Watson. A member of the Fast Company Impact Council and the Arthur W. Page Society, Jerilan was named on the list of 100 Most Influential African-Americans in Corporate America by Savoy Magazine in 2018.

In our interview, Lippe Taylor CEO Paul Dyer gets Jerilan’s perspective on the importance of deep listening across stakeholders, how Yum! Brands prioritizes equity, diversity & inclusion, and why mentorship, coaching, and sponsorship is critical to cultivating world-class talent. 

Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Jerilan

It all begins with listening.

As social unrest began to take hold in the spring, leaders at Yum! Brands knew that the first thing they had to do to determine the right actions was to listen. They facilitated listening sessions across the entire company, connecting to diverse employees at all levels and branches to determine how they could better serve. Jerilan claims this forum was extremely effective, as change always starts with a conversation and exchange of ideas. Jerilan further claimed that despite the fact that Yum! was observing how other brands were reacting to the crises, it was important for their team to develop their own strategy and do their own listening to ensure they were addressing the specific needs of their customers & shareholders. 

Yum! Brands developed a robust plan to fight inequality by unlocking opportunities for their restaurant teams and the local communities they serve. For example, globally, they are investing $100 million over five years in education & skill development, equity & inclusion, and entrepreneurship to give people opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have. The first step in driving conversations and actions at this scale and magnitude was listening to their local customers and internal stakeholders.


Integrate internal and external strategic teams for dynamic solutions.

Great ideas can come from anywhere – and anyone. As chief communications officer, Jerilan sees her job as the curator of conversations. She says this requires bringing multiple stakeholders together to integrate ideas and perspectives horizontally. The real magic happens within collaborations between internal teams (HR, communications, and operations) and external teams (PR and marketing agencies). When everyone comes to the table with diverse perspectives while sharing a cohesive brand view, it’s possible to think around corners to solve the brand’s greatest challenges as a dynamically integrated unit.


Earned creative is picking up where advertising left off. 

In this age of ad blockers and DVR, advertising has been disrupted big time. Great ideas are going to require more integrated and cross-channel relevance to work and resonate with customers. Once again, this comes down to listening; listen to your customers and the broader culture as they continue to evolve and change. Yum! Brands continues to take a creative, playful, and unexpected approach with their marketing assets through earned creative ideas that are so bold and noteworthy they naturally garner significant media attention. Case in point: Kentucky Fried Chicken Crocs! A playful campaign that garnered nearly 3 billion impressions.


Produced by Simpler Media

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