Senior External Affairs Specialist

Diversity of backgrounds, ideas, thoughts, and experiences is vital to our culture and the way we do business. Creating an environment where differences are embraced and where every person feels engaged and included makes us safer, stronger, and more successful.

With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S.publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 7,000 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to 15 million people in 46 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to help make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit amwater.comand follow American Water on Twitter, Facebookand LinkedIn.

Primary Role

The primary role of this position is to provide communications counsel to state management teams and to develop, coordinate, implement and manage 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 counsel and advise. This role is focused on anticipating and managing local communications issues and effectively positioning the company with key opinion leaders. The Senior 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 media not only unanticipated events but also proactively to leverage media coverage. 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 Director of Communications and External Affairs, and indirectly to the External Affairs Manager in the State and to the Director of External Affairs at corporate. The ideal candidate will be local to the Pittsburgh area and will support our Western PA region.

Key Accountabilities

  • Works collaboratively with State EA team in implementing comprehensive strategic communications plans including media relations, social media, 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 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.
  • 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.

Additional Key Accountabilities

  • Establishes and maintains 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 iscognizant 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.
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • Confident in arranging editorial boards.
  • 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 PowerPoint, Word, Excel and Access databases.
  • Has ability to assist in planning and executing trade show and client hospitality events
  • Coordinate with state-based External Affairs team and deliver water education programs for the general community and school-aged children that enhance the presence of the Pennsylvania American Water
  • Coordinate with state-based EA team members and maintain a comprehensive social media strategy that defines how social media marketing techniques will be applied to increase visibility and traffic


  • Five to nine years of water industry experience preferred as well as a background that includes public relations, media relations, media reporting, social media, 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 experience commensurate with the requirements of the position.

Travel Requirements

  • 20% within the state and in the United States


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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.