American Water Manager External Affairs in Merrick, New York
Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company. With headquarters in Voorhees, N.J., the company employs over 7,000 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 15 million people in 46 states and Ontario, Canada. To learn more about American Water and additional career opportunities, visit www.amwater.com.
The primary role of this position is to provide senior-level communications counsel to the state president and the state senior management team and to develop, coordinate, implement and manage all external communications activities to support the success of the state business plan and operating objectives. The primary areas of responsibility include media relations, public relations, community relations, corporate social responsibility and local support to government relations activities and meeting the information needs of customers. This professional is poised to respond rapidly and tactically to unanticipated events and critical issues such as main breaks and other critical incidents, and is equally focused on providing proactive and strategic communications counsel and advise to the state senior management team. This role is focused on anticipating and managing local communications issues and effectively positioning the company with key opinion leaders and key constituencies. The External Affairs Manager is the critical communications resource maximizing the company's communications effectiveness, flexibility and responsiveness within the communities we serve. This professional has a comprehensive depth of communications knowledge and experience with demonstrated expertise in implementing integrated, strategic communications programs. While not directly responsible for customer communications or internal communication, the External Affairs Manager is an active and vital component of an integrated communications team operating through a matrix management model that is responsible for functional excellence reaching all audiences with a full array of internal and external communications messages, tactics and activities. This role is responsible for identifying, developing, nurturing and sustaining strong and enduring relationships with the media not only during unanticipated events but also to proactively to leverage media coverage. This function ensures that American Water is aligned with key community groups and organizations and well regarded and respected as a "good corporate citizen". Leads and directs all communications activities to reflect American Water’s commitment to its customers and communities. Working closely with the State President and the state senior management team, the manager ensures that the company is effectively aligned and positioned to develop and sustain key relationships with community leaders, government and regulatory authorities, as well as elected and appointed officials. The External Affairs Manager will report to the State President and indirectly to the Eastern Division Director of Communications and External Affairs.
Directly supports the strategic communications needs of a state and the state senior management team. Provides senior-level communications counsel and ensures the effective implementation of external affairs and related communications activities. Assists in strategy development and the proactive development of communications materials/tactics that produce cost, time and resource efficiencies across the business as well as ensures consistent messaging for all audiences. Ensures wise budget management. Works directly and closely with the State President to equip the state management team to develop and sustain key relationships - with community leaders, the media, elected/appointed officials, regulators and their staff members, and to manage and advance important communications objectives to these target constituencies. Employs a keen awareness and knowledge of community resources and contacts; understands the attitudes and concerns of the community. Implements communications strategies, tactics and activities to ensure ongoing, consistent and targeted communications before, during and after rate case filings. (20%)
Develops, manages and directs comprehensive strategic communications plans and supporting materials for public communications including media relations, online/social media engagement, community relations/events, local government relations and sponsorship/memberships and executes in a proactive manner. Interacts and provides communications counsel on communications-related issues, challenges and opportunities. Develops effective issues management plans, crisis communications and serves as a spokesperson in a crisis situation. Is highly effective when developing messages for American Water during a crisis. Effectively manages internal and external resources, such as public relations agencies and other communications consultants, and adheres to all budget management requirements. (20%)
Monitors internal/external business developments, as well as identifies connections between business activities and industry trends, that may pose a threat or benefit to the company’s reputation. Works closely with the Customer Communications Manager, the Internal Communications Manager and the Customer Service Center Communications Manager to ensure that materials are anticipated, planned for and developed on a timely basis to meet the needs of state operations. Works closely with the state government relations lead to provide communications counsel, support and all necessary materials. Provides communications support to business development activities when needed. (20%)
Key Accountabilities Continued
Lead the social media strategy and day-to-day operations related to the execution of the company’s online initiatives, including planning, writing and publishing ongoing website and social media updates. Monitor social media channels and respond to public posts and private messages appropriately as needed. Facilitate responses with operations and customer advocacy as needed. Conduct ongoing social media channel traffic analysis and reporting and share the data as necessary. (20%)
Effectively establishes and maintains relationships with key media outlets and educates the media on issues of interest to American Water. Develops, executes and measures the effectiveness of media relations strategies in support of the state's capital investment program. Predicts and anticipates the needs of the news media/reporters and is cognizant of meeting these needs. Plans and manages large press and community events. Develops talking points and corresponding media materials, invitations to the media, media pitching and coaches the State President and the state senior management team on how to convey key messages effectively when dealing with the media (during an interview or when attending an editorial board meeting) or when speaking before community groups. Works collaboratively to develop strategic communications and outreach plans and time communications tactics in support of the company’s Corporate Responsibilities (CR) initiatives. Works with state and corporate legal teams to ensure consistent and appropriate language is in all materials. Works closely, collaboratively and seamlessly with peer communications professionals supporting the state including Customer Communications Manager, the Internal Communications Manager, the Director of Communications and External Affairs, the Customer Service Center Communications Manager and the entire Corporate Communications team in corporate to ensure communication integration and maximum effectiveness. Regularly communicates and discusses best practices with peer communications positions. Works in a seamless and integrated manner to ensure the effective strategic alignment and coordination of all communications, both internal and external, within each state and business line. (20%)
Knowledge / Skills
Has a thorough knowledge of strategic communications.
Extensive experience in developing, implementing and measuring all related tactics and activities in support of effective integrated communications strategies.
Possesses strong written and verbal communication skills.
Displays a thorough knowledge and understanding of the media and the ability to assess a reporter’s focus/beat. Is highly adept at developing and placing media materials including press releases, letters to the editor, and op-eds.
Confident and experienced in arranging and conducting editorial boards.
Has experience working with social media and online communications.
Is knowledgeable of community-based organizations, the political background and agendas of these groups, and other grassroots initiatives.
Understands local and state political issues and is knowledgeable about the key players.
Understands Reg FD disclosure requirements pertaining to publicly traded companies and understands the difference between material and nonmaterial information.
Demonstrated ability to handle multiple tasks and produce quality materials while achieving results and meeting deadlines.
Demonstrated ability to prioritize and re-prioritize quickly.
Ability to multi-task and meet strict deadlines.
Is familiar with project management work and has experience managing vendors and vendor contracts.
Has experience planning and executing community relations events, trade show and client hospitality events.
Has excellent and efficient working knowledge of PowerPoint, Word, Excel and SharePoint databases, as well as basic graphic design programs and social media platforms.
Building Effective Teams
Hiring and Staffing
Experience / Education
Seven to ten years of experience in public relations, media relations, social media, digital marketing and community relations in a fastpaced corporate and/or agency environment.
Bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, public relations, English, advertising or related field preferred, or demonstrated experienced commensurate with the requirements of the position.
20% within the state and in the United States.
Located in a state supporting the full array of external affairs and communications needs of the company's operations within that state.
Join American Water...We Keep Life Flowing*™
American Water is firmly committed to Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and prohibits employment discrimination for employees and applicants* based on his or her age, race, color, pregnancy, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, marital status, citizenship, or because he or she is an individual with a disability, protected veteran or other status protected by federal, state, and local laws.