CR Leaders Corner: Doug Hawkins

Primary tabs

CR Leaders Corner: Doug Hawkins

An Interview with Doug Hawkins, Vice President, Public Affairs & Policy, Pfizer Nutrition
tweet me:
CR Leaders Corner @AAInsights w/ Doug Hawkins Vice-Pres Public Affairs Pfizer Nutrition @pfizer_news #CSR #Susty http://3bl.me/f3x5q4
Friday, June 15, 2012 - 2:00pm

CAMPAIGN: AccountAbility CR Leaders Corner

CONTENT: Blog

 
Using Strategic Engagement to Defuse Crises
 
Managing external issues in complex, global companies can be like a crash course in diplomatic relations.  When these issues come up unexpectedly and worse, when several occur simultaneously, they present challenges that can rattle even the most experienced managers. 
 
Working on the firing line of multinational companies, startups, and at the United Nations for more than 20 years has taught me more about crisis management than perhaps I’d like to know. I’ve learned that leading in public affairs requires substantial self awareness,  discernment and diplomatic finesse.  Navigating diplomatic snafus and wending one’s way through a public affairs crisis require some of the same approaches.  Here are the top five strategies that have worked for me. 
 
1) Distinguish a crisis from a routine complaint: Being able to identify what is really a crisis amid a flood of day-to-day complaints makes all the difference.  When I first transitioned from pharmaceutical public affairs to managing a consumer products portfolio,  it was jarring  to experience the much faster cadence at which issues were occurring.   At first, we had no way to effectively triage crises, so daily product inquiries were addressed the same way as major issues. We also lacked a deep understanding of how the political climate and cultural mores in each market were affecting whether and how quickly an issue might escalate. This created a huge distraction to the business, slowed down our response time, consumed valuable resources, and allowed sometimes important issues to escalate.  To focus our attention on the most pressing issues quickly, we created a process through which we had our communications team manage the day-to-day inquiries and our public affairs group manage the crises.  
 
2) Get to the bottom of a problem before you act: Early in my career, I tried to enlist dozens of national governments to start using a new electronic system for international patent applications.  One stakeholder resisted implementation at every turn, and caused a lot of disruption to the project.  Only when I visited the office and probed the concerns over several days did I discover that the real underlying challenge was not fear of technology or change in rules, but that the project would make the stakeholder’s job obsolete.  Once I knew that, I was able to develop a strategy to tackle the concerns effectively.  I spelled out their office’s role administering the new system, and how increased efficiency would allow them to focus on improving the quality of the patent applications. While it’s not always possible to gain this amount of in-depth insight in every situation, if you can figure out what the motivations are (they can be surprising) you are well on the way to finding a solution that will keep you out of harm’s way.   
 
Read the rest of the interview at www.accountability.org
 
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Pfizer, Inc.
 
Keywords: Responsible Business & Employee Engagement | CR Leaders | Corporate Citizenship | Pfizer | Responsible Business & Employee Engagement | csr | nutrition | public policy

CAMPAIGN: AccountAbility CR Leaders Corner

CONTENT: Blog

parse.ly