CINCINNATI: P&G's global external relations officer, Charlotte Otto, has announced she will retire as of February 15, 2010. She will vacate her position as head of PR as of July 1, 2009. Christopher Hassall, currently VP of corporate communications and reputation and North American external relations, will assume her role on that date.
Otto has been with the company for 33 years, and spent the last 13 years as head of external relations. She was ranked number 3 on PRWeek's Power List in both 2007 and 2008. In 2007, PRWeek wrote: "Charlotte Otto's power is probably greater than any other corporate communications executive for the simple fact that she oversees PR for 22 billion-dollar brands."
She spent the first 13 years on the advertising side of the company. On the PR side, she has made a significant impact on PR measurement.
She "championed development of influencer marketing for P&G brands and advanced breakthrough work to measure its business building impact," said A.G. Lafley, chairman of P&G's board, in a statement announcing Otto's retirement. He also credits her with sponsoring P&G's corporate children's cause, Live, Learn & Thrive. She has also supported a number of causes in the Cincinnati area.
As of July 1, Otto will serve on special assignment, reporting to Lafley, who recently announced that he was stepping down as CEO of the company. She will support him in his role on the board and as chair of the 2009 Cincinnati community United Way campaign. Robert McDonald is succeeding Lafley as CEO on July 1 as well.
When PRWeek contacted Otto two weeks ago to inquire about any impact the CEO change would have on her role, she responded, via e-mail, that “there will be no change.”
“I'll continue to report to Bob McDonald, now in his capacity as CEO,” Otto wrote. “This is great news for the company and for P&G external relations. Bob [McDonald] is a big champion of our work.”
Hassall will report to McDonald and to head of marketing, Marc Pritchard. Hassall is a 26-year veteran of the company who joined P&G as a research scientist and, in 2000, was on the team that created the external relations function.
Hassall lead PR in China and Asia as VP of external relations in 2007, before returning to the US last year as the VP of global corporate communications and reputation for North America external relations. He spent several years in China for P&G, and prior to that was the company's external relations leader in regions around the world including Europe, Africa, the Middle East.
Updated June 24, 2009, 4:05pm