Jordan keeps his team on the pulse of J&J's comms

As head of communications at Johnson & Johnson, Raymond Jordan has a hand in many parts of the business and makes sure he and his staff have a positive impact on all stakeholders.

As head of communications at Johnson & Johnson, Raymond Jordan has a hand in many parts of the business and makes sure he and his staff have a positive impact on all stakeholders.

At Johnson & Johnson, 300 people share responsibility for the healthcare giant's global communications.

And Raymond Jordan is responsible for streamlining that effort, offering guidance along the way. Yet he is quick to note that the mammoth task is truly a team endeavor. (In fact, the team concept is so vital to Jordan that he insisted that team members Nancy Walker, VP of global pharmaceutical communications; David Swearingen, VP of corporate communications; and Patricia Molino and Susan Odenthal, both VPs of group issues and communications, be photographed with him.)

"My background is much less interesting, much more subordinate, to how J&J" tells its story, Jordan notes when asked about how he came to lead communications for the fourth-largest drug company and its 200 operating units.

Although J&J does sell some products under the corporate brand, its New Brunswick, NJ, headquarters operates largely like a holding company. Marketing communications is the domain of such units as Ortho-McNeil, Vistakon, Janssen, DePuy, and Ethicon.

Therefore, only the most extreme, unusual, and delicate issues make their way to Jordan's office. "The art is understanding what sorts of issues get feedback from the corporate office," he says.

Jordan has his hands full these days with the integration of medical device company Guidant, which J&J expects to purchase. He is also thinking about how to leverage the company's recently revealed sponsorship of the Turin, Italy, and Beijing Olympics.

And like most drug companies, J&J seeks ways to put unbranded disease-awareness information into the hands of consumers, while also taking on the company's critics over the issues of drug costs and access.

"We are held to an ever-higher standard," says Robert Darretta, vice chairman of the board of directors and CFO, citing the "insatiable demand" for products and the government's limited resources to satisfy that demand.

"Ray's concern is not simply informing or trying to influence the perception of an issue," Darretta adds. "His philosophy is to use communications to impact the substance of an issue."

J&J's external image is just one piece of the corporate communications task. The other is very much focused inward.

Darretta describes Jordan as a collaborator, someone who uses "market research" to find out how much employees know about what's going on at J&J and what they think about it.

"He goes out and takes the pulse of the organization on issues that are germane to the leadership," Darretta says. "He's sufficiently flexible that he will be able to capitalize on the ideas and viewpoints of individuals going forward."

Jordan is the link between chairman and CEO William Weldon and the communications staff.

His seven direct reports are the point people for the company's three main businesses - pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and consumer - and he also oversees such functions as global media relations, training and development, crisis management, internal communications, and the website.

"In a decentralized organization, we look at what kinds of communications coming from the headquarters are most important to which audiences," Jordan says, adding that the corporate headquarters is the "syndicator" of information throughout the company. "It is understanding the needs of people beyond those of the organization."

Michael Dormer, chairman of medical devices, recalls that Jordan played a key role in helping to install CCOs in many of the medical device businesses.

"When you looked to see how our businesses were developing, some were getting quite large," he notes. "These were companies in their own right."

Rather than having a centralized approach to communications, Jordan encouraged a model where PR executives were integrated into each unit and reported to the manager of that business.

"Having that proximity," Dormer says, "they are a very important part of the decision-making process."

Jordan notes that he is building on a tradition at J&J started by Bill Nielsen, a PR pioneer who retired last year.

"The communications leader has an obligation to be thinking as the third-party stakeholder might," he says. "We'll often be consulted quite early in the [decision-making] process to think about the consequences of [certain] actions."

Jordan notes that it was this interest in management that initially attracted him to communications.

"The thing that is so important to me is when corporate communicators are expected to do so much more to understand the business," he says. "That's what's exciting to me."

He joined J&J from Pfizer, where the management style, including communications, was much more centralized.

Jordan didn't intend to go into PR. After an early stint in journalism, he ventured into consulting, mostly in healthcare marketing. Eventually, he agreed to join Pfizer, first in finance, technology, and systems planning, and later in the public policy division.

He transferred into the public policy group just as the government began to look at pharma rebates to help ease Medicaid's cost pressures. Jordan was on the team that worked with Pfizer's field force and state Medicaid administrators to manage the initial complexity of implementing the rebate program.

"That work had such a communications component," Jordan recalls. "I found that I enjoyed all the things that could be categorized as PR."

From public policy, Jordan moved into corporate affairs, where he helped build Pfizer's first website. He left as VP of communications and information.

Darretta notes that Jordan has continued to look at ways to use technology to improve communications across a company as large, decentralized, and diverse as J&J. He adds, for instance, that Jordan created the "chairman's perspective," a video that allows employees to receive corporate messages on their computers when they choose.

"I'm thrilled to be part of an organization ... where the communicators feel such a responsibility to this underlying integrity of J&J," Jordan says. "Actions that were taken five years ago will be looked at under today's lens. You want your products to be safe; you want your people to do the right thing. There's a public perception about transparency that's higher than ever before."

Raymond Jordan

2004-present

Corporate VP, public affairs and corporate comms, Johnson & Johnson

2003-2004

VP of group communications, J&J

1986-2003

Various positions to VP of comms and information, Pfizer

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