Oral Histories

Charlotte Otto

Interview Segments on Topic: PR Agency or Corporate PR/Outsourcing

Charlotte Otto Biography

Charlotte Otto began her career with Proctor and Gamble as a brand assistant for Prell Concentrate and has remained with P&G to become the first female corporate officer as Global External Relations Officer.   She is responsible for a wide range of communication and public affairs activities from media relations and product publicity to government and community relations.

Charlotte Otto provides service and leadership to the Cincinnati area, serving as a Board Member of The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, as chair of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and past chair of Downtown Cincinnati. She recently was awarded the Arthur W. Page Society’s highest recognition, the Hall of Fame Award.


Interviewer: Let’s talk a minute about the outsourcing, mergers, that are happening recently. The PR agencies seem to be growing in size and number and corporate PR staffs have decreased and I’m not exactly sure what has happened here with your staff but have you experienced this kind of thing and what do you think is occurring and do you think this is going to continue. Is it good? Is it bad?

Otto: We’ve always viewed PR agencies as essential partners for our business. As much as we’ve always viewed advertising agencies as essential partners for our business and we couldn’t work without PR agency partners and I think our reliance on our PR agency partners is going to grow substantially. And the key reason is there’s an exploding demand for the work that we do among our brands and our corporate work as well, and we can’t add enough experienced people fast enough to meet that demand. So we’re going to have to rely on our agencies to provide the extra resources that we need to serve our brands in the company. So I think that’s a really healthy thing. Our challenge has been to develop agency capability particularly outside the key developed markets in North America and Europe. We have found that for a number of our agency partners their capability outside those developed markets is uneven, and so we’ve talked to them about the importance of developing capability in Latin America, in eastern Europe, and in Asia because we’re going to be relying on them to be our partners to a much greater degree, so to me that’s the key challenge. I have never thought of this as outsourcing. And we do a lot in a lot of different areas of the company in terms of what might be called outsourcing. But we call it partnering. Because we rely on our external partners to bring capability, to bring innovation, and to help us with cost. But it’s not principally about cost, it’s really about capability and that’s exactly  how we view our relationship with our PR agency partners as well.