American Water External Affairs Specialist in Charleston, West Virginia
Share Our Purpose. Be Yourself. Feel Valued. People are the heart of our business. As an American Water employee, you will be offered a competitive salary and health benefits package, along with opportunities to develop, grow, and evolve your career. Our benefits packages focus on key areas such as health & wellness, emotional & well-being, and savings for current & future goals. We are Beautifully Different. We strongly believe having diversity across our company makes us more successful and helps us provide essential services to our customers. We are stronger because we embrace different ideas, viewpoints, experiences, and backgrounds. American Water is the best choice for your next role! Click here for more information on our inclusion, diversity, and equity journey. * About American Water* American Water (NYSE: AWK) is the largest regulated water and wastewater utility company in the United States. With a history dating back to 1886, We Keep Life Flowing® by providing safe, clean, reliable and affordable drinking water and wastewater services to more than 14 million people across 14 regulated jurisdictions and 18 military installations. American Water’s 6,500 talented professionals leverage their significant expertise and the company’s national size and scale to achieve excellent outcomes for the benefit of customers, employees, investors and other stakeholders. As one of the fastest growing utilities in the U.S., American Water expects to invest $30 to $34 billion in infrastructure repairs and replacement, system resiliency and regulated acquisitions over the next 10 years. The company has a long-standing history of executing its core operations, aligned with sustainable best practices, through its commitments to safety, affordability, customer service, protecting the environment, an inclusive workforce and strengthening communities. American Water has been recognized on the 2023 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Indexfor the fifth consecutive year, ranked 18th on Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable U.S. Companies 2023 List, earned the U.S. Department of Homeland Security SAFETY Act designation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense® Excellence Award, among additional state, local and national recognitions. For more information, visit amwater.com and join American Water on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Primary Role The primary role of this position is to support the state management teams and to develop, coordinate, implement and 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. 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 support. This role is focused on anticipating and managing local communications issues and effectively positioning the company with key opinion leaders. The External Affairs Specialist is a critical communications resource maximizing the company's communications effectiveness, flexibility and responsiveness within the communities we serve. This professional has communications knowledge and experience with implementing communications programs. While not directly responsible for customer communications or internal communication, the External Affairs Specialist 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 key community groups. This function ensures that American Water is aligned with key community groups and organizations so that American Water is well regarded as a "good corporate citizen". The specialist will ensure 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 Specialist will report to the Senior Manager of Government and External Affairs and indirectly to the External Affairs Manager. Key Accountabilities * Helps to supports the strategic communications needs of a state and the state senior management team. Provides communications counsel and ensures the effective implementation of external affairs and related communications activities. Assists in the proactive development of communications materials/tactics that produce cost, time and resource efficiencies and consistent messaging. Ensures wise budget management across the state. * Provides communications advice and recommendations to equip state and local management teams 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 an awareness and knowledge of community resources and contacts; understands the attitudes and concerns of the community and establishes and maintains cooperative and effective relationships. Assists in implementing communications strategies, tactics and activities to ensure ongoing, consistent and targeted communications before, during and after rate case filings. * Working with the External Affairs Manager, helps to identify and develop opportunities to raise and enhance the company's reputation as a good corporate citizen through strong networking skills, employing effective communications strategies and leveraging key community initiatives that align with company goals. (20%) * Assists in implementing comprehensive strategic communications plans including media relations, conference participation, community relations/events, local government relations and sponsorship/memberships and executes in a proactive manner. Assists in creating and implementing proactive, coordinated and aligned media relations, public relations and community relations plans. Assists in developing effective crisis plans and crisis communications materials. Adheres to all budget management requirements. * Assists in monitoring 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 External Affairs Manager, the Internal Communications Manager and the Customer Service Center to ensure that materials are anticipated, planned for and developed on a timely basis to meet the needs of state operations. Key Accountabilities (cont.) * Assists in developing and implementing communications activities in support of all American Water business operations within the state. * Provides communications support to business development activities, when needed. (20%) * Assists in establishing and maintaining relationships with key media in the market and educates the media on issues of interest to American Water. Assists in developing, executing and measuring 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 to build community awareness of American Water and positions the company for brand-building opportunities. Assists in developing talking points and corresponding media materials and invitations to the media. (35%) * Assists in developing strategic communications plans and time lines. * Assists in developing and implementing communications tactics in support develop plans that anticipate and deliver ahead of needs. Works with of the company’s Corporate Responsibilities (CR) initiatives. Helps to 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 the Internal Communications Manager, the Director of Communications and External Affairs, and the entire Corporate Communications team 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 between each state and corporate. (15%) * Assists in supporting the communications needs of the state government relations lead to provide communications counsel, support and necessary materials. Interfaces with local elected officials and develops and sustains strong working relationships with these targets. (10%) Knowledge/Skills * Has a general knowledge of strategic communications. * Displays an understanding of the media and has the ability to assess a reporter’s focus/beat. Is adept at developing and placing media materials including press releases, letters to the editor, and op-eds. * Possesses strong written and verbal communication skills. * 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. * Has excellent and efficient working knowledge of Outlook, Teams, PowerPoint, Word, Excel and Access databases. * Has ability to assist in planning and executing trade show and client hospitality events. Experience/Education * Bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, public relations, English, advertising or related field preferred, or demonstrated experience commensurate with the requirements of the position. * Three to five years of experience preferred in public relations, media relations, media reporting, marketing and community relations in a fast-paced corporate and/or agency environment. Travel Requirements * 20% within the state and in the United States. Work Environment * Located in a state supporting the full array of external affairs and communications needs of the company's operations within that state. Competencies * Champions safety * Customer obsessed * Cultivates innovation * Nimble learning * Drives Results * Collaborates * 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 they are an individual with a disability, protected veteran or other status protected by federal, state, and local laws.