Top Women in PR: Catherine Hernandez-Blades

Catherine Hernandez-Blades, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Aflac

Upon starting with Aflac, Catherine knew she needed to redefine Aflac’s communications organization’s role, its structure, and enhance its organizational contributions. The goal was to quickly create a sustainable organization that would have maximum impact. Catherine immediately initiated research—including a benchmark analysis of world-class communications functions, structures, organizations and outputs—followed by a situational analysis based on information about the marketplace, competition, and global economic and regulatory environments. She then looked at the company’s strategic plan to determine which strategic objectives could most benefit from communications support, and identified critical, top-level areas of focus for the communications department’s first-ever, formal strategic plan. Based on this information, strategic imperatives were identified for all functional disciplines with clear goals, objectives and metrics. In her work to transform Aflac’s communications structure, Catherine set clear benchmarks and means of measurement from the start in order to track progress and gauge improvement. She thereby instituted an increase in social media engagement by 2,000 percent, increased media coverage on strategic thought leadership efforts tenfold year-over-year, and employee engagement survey results rose five percent.