In times of crisis, one thing is certain: people look to Purpose-driven leaders and businesses to provide the confidence that there is a clear plan of action.


That’s why I’m especially proud of our communications and public affairs team collaborating with the entire organization to create Sharing What We’ve Learned: A Blueprint for Businesses. The journey began in April, when several elected officials and businesses began reaching out to Kroger for our best practices and lessons learned as an essential retailer. We took the requests to heart and quickly developed and launched a new platform——to share what we’ve learned, what went well and where we could improve.


The Blueprint is a resource designed to provide actionable recommendations for businesses to consider as they start crafting or enhancing their plans for a safer work environment while COVID-19 risk persists. It is divided into six sections, including Retail Operations, Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Sourcing, People and Communications. Each section includes links to downloadable assets including in-store signs and audio files that we invite other businesses to utilize.


With nearly 2,800 grocery stores, 35 manufacturing plants, 44 distribution centers and 500,000 associates across the country, Kroger has learned and continues to learn while keeping our stores and supply chain open and serving America throughout the pandemic. We continue to add additional recommendations, insights, best practices, tools and templates for other industries to leverage as we learn and move forward together.


As our CEO Rodney McMullen said in the announcement, “We know that we don’t, and we won’t, have all the answers – no one business or organization will. It will take all of us sharing openly the ingenuity that has always been the heart of American free enterprise to get through this, together, allowing America to come out stronger.”


This resource is a great example of how communications and public affairs teams can build something that adds value, expresses corporate character and demonstrates an organization’s Purpose. And do it fast.


For a peek behind the curtain, the work involved a small but highly-effective team compiling two months of Kroger’s retail store safety initiatives in response to the pandemic, both large and small; writing, editing, organizing and designing a readable and informative playbook; designing, building and publishing a website; scripting, shooting and editing a video; drafting a press release, pitching media and securing a Good Morning America interview … and launching our new platform … all in less than 36 hours.

Naturally, there are prerequisites for being able to deliver quality work at unprecedented speed.

  • Purpose-driven Leadership – Kroger’s leadership team has taken serious, swift and meaningful actions to safeguard our associates and customers from the beginning.
  • Collaboration – Having the partnership of leaders across our varied business units to quickly work through the content.
  • Strategic Leadership (that empowers the team to do their best work) – My role was to architect the strategic framework with senior executives, then empower our team (or, to put it more bluntly, to get out of the way) and remove roadblocks so the experts could build (while flying – see next point).
  • Build the Plane While Flying – A willingness to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, to learn and improve as we go. As a leader, you might have to constantly vocalize this point because, especially for top performers, it cuts against a natural tendency toward perfection.


After it launched, we quickly received multiple invitations from local business associations, national trade groups and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to talk about the Blueprint. Sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the tangible result of your efforts, but the response we’ve received clearly showed how our work was making a difference.


Our Corporate Affairs team can take pride in having built an entirely new platform for Kroger, which provides yet another meaningful way for the company to respond to the pandemic: to help American businesses – large and small – safely reopen and, by doing that, help to save lives.


Keith Dailey
Group Vice President
Corporate Affairs