Sep 29, 2022 - Economy

Communicator spotlight: Dani Dudeck, Instacart CCO

Photo illustration of Dani Dudeck in front of patterned background shapes

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: Instacart

Dani Dudeck has a knack for building communications teams — she did it for MySpace, Zynga and most recently, Instacart, where she serves as chief communications and public affairs officer.

  • When she joined four years ago, she "knew so many households that ran on Instacart, but the fact that they weren't proactively and strategically building a communications function underscored the opportunity — and I was excited to build it.”

🪜How it’s structured: She reports to the CEO and oversees the policy team, plus corporate, brand, social impact and shopper communications.

🌡 The hardest day at work was also the most rewarding, Dudeck says, as the COVID-19 shutdown caused Instacart to go from a convenience to a necessity overnight.

  • "We didn’t wait to be told what to do and how to do it. We created new processes — like contactless delivery — and the entire industry followed suit within 48 hours."
  • “We quickly realized that our communications were a public service, telling people how they could put food on the table for their families or how furloughed workers could earn money quickly.”

👶🏼 De-stress routine: Spending time with her two young children. They are deep into Season 3 of "Bluey."

📈 Trend spot: The rise of internal communications. Dudeck says internal and external messaging must go hand-in-hand, and be crafted explicitly and delivered quickly.

She’s also noticed growing tension (“unhelpful disdain”) between PR pros and reporters.

  • “We have no tolerance for that — and even if that's not the headline you dreamt up or the cycle didn’t go perfectly, it’s OK. Their job is not to do yours ... it's to report the news.”

Yes, but: This trend goes beyond reporter dynamics.

  • “Across the valley, there's a tendency to be zero-sum in communications — I win, you lose," Dudeck says. "We take a different approach, which is focused on growing the pie for our industry, not competing with them. For example, we partner on every announcement to show how Instacart technology is helping.”
  • Instacart Health — an initiative that partners with health professionals, hospitals and nonprofits to increase access to nutritious foods — is the latest example of these mission-driven announcements.

📱Most-used app: Slack.

🧠 Tip: “Work for a company or CEO that sees communications as a strategic advantage, not as insurance.”

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