Expertise

Brand Building | Reputation Management | Employee Communications and Engagement
Public Relations/Public Affairs | Media Relations | Crisis/Issues Management
Executive Communications | Employment Engagement and Diversity | Investor Relations
Speeches and Presentations

For most of her 30-plus-year career, Wanda Herndon directed communications, public relations and marketing functions for leading brands and Fortune 500 companies. She held senior-level positions, not only at Starbucks Coffee Company, but also for DuPont, The Dow Chemical Company and the Michigan House of Representatives.

Wanda’s global experience with business-to-business and consumer companies has enabled her to gain extensive and valuable experience in the areas of: brand building, reputation management, public relations, media relations, crisis and issues management, public affairs, executive communications, employee engagement and diversity, and investor relations. Her authentic, relaxed, direct leadership style motivated team members to excel.

As a member of the Starbucks executive team and officer of the company from 1995 to 2006, Wanda contributed her insightful business perspective, which was factored into and influenced key business decisions. Her counseling skills were fine-tuned, often tested and valued as a result of her direct reporting relationship to the chairman, president and CEO of Starbucks.

A significant public acknowledgement of her expertise in the communications and business arena occurred in 2008 when Howard Schultz asked her to return to Starbucks and, once again, lead the Global Communications function when he resumed the role of president, chairman and CEO of Starbucks. Her post-retirement engagement with Starbucks continued through the end of 2008, and she continues to provide strategic communications counsel.

As president and CEO of W Communications, Wanda utilizes her communications expertise to develop and execute communications strategies tailored to meet business needs. Over the years, Wanda has demonstrated how exemplary communications can help corporations and other entities successfully achieve positive, measurable results.

W Communications provides comprehensive communications planning and execution for all categories of businesses and organizations. W Communications expertise is focused in the following areas:

Brand Building

Brand enhancement in the marketplace using relevant communications tools to increase awareness and recognition with internal and external audiences, and drive sales. Services include:

  • Brand definition
  • Market segmentation
  • Target audience identification
  • Focus groups
  • Message architecture
  • Brand narrative
  • Storytelling
  • Marketing/social responsibility/communications collaboration
  • Event planning
  • Sponsorship/partnership opportunities
  • Analysis and Measurement

Reputation Management

Thorough assessment of business and cultural environments, segmented audiences and media coverage to determine actions necessary to protect individual and company reputations. Services include:

  • Key influencer identification
  • Positive/negative opinion monitoring
  • Public perceptions understanding
  • Positive positioning
  • Internal/external focus groups

Employee Communications and Engagement

Comprehensive employee communications and engagement planning and execution to ensure that employees receive timely information that will keep them informed, enable them to perform their responsibilities effectively and act as brand ambassadors. Services include:

  • Open forums
  • E-newsletters
  • Company updates
  • Special events
  • Focus groups
  • CEO/employee small group and other skip-level meetings
  • Streaming communications
  • Social media

Public Relations/Public Affairs

Creative public relations and innovative public affairs initiatives that influence target audiences to purchase products and services, and support social philanthropy or legislative positions of an organization. Services include

  • External audience segmentation
  • Government relations
  • Community involvement
  • Key influencer relationships
  • Product publicity
  • Direct mail
  • Social media
  • Market research
  • Special events
  • Book tours

Media Relations

Savvy, effective media planning and execution that results in positive placements in key print, newspapers, broadcast, online and social media channels. Services include:

  • Relationship management
  • Media matrix and prioritization
  • Media/editorial board visits
  • Company media days
  • Media training
  • Influencer identity

Crisis/Issues Management

All-encompassing proactive crises and issues planning; and immediate, thoughtful and effective response in the face of crises and issues:

  • Crisis management plans
  • Assessment of potential crises and issues
  • Business continuity plans
  • Proactive positioning
  • Effective response coordination
  • Crisis team composition and management
  • Tabletop exercises

Executive Communications

Complete, non-offensive executive and leadership coaching and support. Services include:

  • Internal/external executive communications plans
  • Counseling/coaching
  • Image consulting
  • Speeches/presentations
  • Media training
  • Employee interaction
  • Key influencer connections

Employee Development and Diversity

Insightful communications that highlight company initiatives, underscores the importance of employee development, and reinforces the benefits of having the “perfect blend” of employees within an organization to achieve maximum results and key employee retention. Services include:

  • Employee engagement analysis
  • Focused, timely communications
  • Affinity group understanding and support
  • Key influencer identification
  • External organization participation recommendations
  • Leadership conferences

Investor Relations

Clear, concise communications and meetings that share company business results in a manner that resonates with analysts, the financial media and the general media. Services include:

  • Quarterly/year-end earnings releases
  • Quarterly/year-end financial analyst conference calls
  • Annual reports
  • Annual meetings
  • Analyst relations/roadshows/one-on-one meetings

Speeches and Presentations

Relevant speeches and presentations geared to specific audiences that not only inform, but entertain as well. Services include:

  • Research
  • Theme development
  • Writing and editing
  • Creative platforms
  • Speaking engagement identification and assessment
  • Coaching
  • On-site support

“Starbucks was very fortunate to have Wanda as a member of the executive team during a time of unprecedented growth for the company. Wanda played a key role at Starbucks from 1995 to 2006, during which time, she provided critical strategic communications counsel that was valued by me and all of the members of the team.


Wanda created and led the Global Communications team that helped Starbucks evolve from a regional brand into a global phenomenon. When Wanda joined Starbucks, she faced severe budgetary constraints. However, despite these significant challenges, Wanda and her team managed to employ innovative communications strategies that distinguished Starbucks in the market place. Her counsel gave us important insight into how business decisions should be communicated to the company’s various global audiences and how Starbucks’ reputation should be managed.


Wanda’s common sense, direct, intuitive approach to solving business problems was highly regarded and yielded exceptional results for Starbucks.


Under her leadership, time and time again, Global Communications strategically leveraged all elements of the communications mix to positively position Starbucks and its innovative business initiatives.


I personally relied on Wanda’s ability to quickly understand business issues, and recommend solutions, particularly in a crisis. She was often the “voice of reason” when a crisis occurred, and her counsel was quickly sought. Her thoughtful, calm demeanor and wise counsel often influenced our decision-making process in a manner that enabled the company to enjoy incredible success.


Wanda’s success has been publicly recognized within Starbucks and by many external organizations. Based on my first-hand knowledge of Wanda’s exceptional communications expertise and business acumen, I am sure that she will continue to make meaningful contributions to the clients of W Communications.”


Orin C. Smith

Former President and CEO, Starbucks Coffee Company
Presiding Director, Nike, Inc.
Director, The Walt Disney Company, Board of Directors