Oral Histories

Charlotte Otto

Interview Segments on Topic: Characteristics/Qualities of PR Professionals

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: Excellent response. I think you’ve actually answered my next question. Is there anything else that you would like to talk about that we haven’t really covered in the interview and there’s probably lots more, but any useful information that you would want to share with this next generation of PR practitioners. Now everything you just said in your last answer is obviously wonderful information.

Otto: Well I think I think our role in the company has changed, and will continue to evolve from being communicators to being business leaders - really having a seat at the table. And that requires different experience and skills than when I entered the profession nearly 20 years ago. First of all we really have to understand the business, we have to understand the consumer, the retail customer, the business strategy, the priorities - we can’t get that as hand me down information from the marketing team. We have to be at the table really understanding and shaping the business strategy not just as recipients or reading a piece of paper. But we have to be in there bringing the outside in to influence the business direction. So I think that’s the first thing is really understanding the business. Second we need to be real leaders. We need to at P & G we have this thing called the five E’s of leadership, and it starts with envisioning being able to envision the future redirection and having a clear picture of the desired end result. We need to be able to do that from a business standpoint and clearly we need to be able to do that in terms of how external relations is going to contribute to achieving those business goals. And then I think we need to be ever more creative, innovative, resourceful as the media landscape changes as the role of what we call influencer marketing in the marketing mix - that’s a broader version of brand PR - but as influencer marketing becomes really the source of a lot of marketing innovation for our brands, we really have to turn on the innovation and creativity. We really need to be able to see how to take influencer insights and relationships and turn them into big ideas. That’s a different set of skills than folks had when I started in this business. Now we were much more order takers and we got knowledge about the business on a hand me down basis. I think there’s never been a more exciting and important time to be in our profession and I’m very optimistic about the opportunity we have to build the business and make a contribution.