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The Roles & Responsibilities for a Head of External Affairs

by Alison Green, studioD

Organizations need to maintain a good public image to enhance business performance. A head of external affairs is generally tasked with designing and delivering a firm’s media strategy, building and maintaining strategic relationships and identifying opportunities to improve external impact. An effective head of external affairs has excellent communication skills to produce high-quality press releases. In some companies, this professional is identified as a public relations manager.

Designing Strategies

A head of external affairs analyzes organizational structure, nature of business activities and market position to develop effective strategies to raise brand profile. For example, a head of external affairs working in a newly established company may design a social media strategy to build the firm’s web presence. This typically involves creating social networking accounts, determining a target audience, setting goals and objectives and engaging Internet users through articles, videos and press releases. A good media strategy enhances a firm’s ability to listen, appreciate and respond to public opinions.

Maintaining Relationships

An organization’s external affairs department is responsible for maintaining strategic business partnerships with government agencies, professional associations, investors and suppliers. These partnerships can grow customer bases and improve performance. The head of external affairs identifies potential partners and initiates relationships. For instance, if a medium-sized beverage company hires you, you can identify an established corporation in the industry to forge a partnership with. Lasting strategic partnerships are based on trust, mutual respect, common values and open communication.

Coordinating Events

When a company wants to hold an event, maybe to launch a product or announce financial performance, the head of external affairs coordinates the event to enhance market impact. This professional sends invitation letters to investors, shareholders, and corporate leaders and provides media companies and journalists with press kits containing fact sheets and event schedules. After an event, the head of external affairs may send follow up emails to provide any key information that wasn’t presented.

Identifying Opportunities

A head of external affairs may collaborate with the research department to investigate the market and identify opportunities for expanding reach. For example, the head of external affairs in a community bank may work toward identifying initiatives that can have a significant impact on residents and improve company image. If there is inadequate access to quality education in the community, for instance, the head of external affairs may advise the firm to launch a scholarship program or build a college.

About the Author

Based in New York City, Alison Green has been writing professionally on career topics for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in “U.S. News Weekly” magazine, “The Career” magazine and “Human Resources Journal.” Green holds a master's degree in finance from New York University.

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