BAYER US VP of Corporate Affairs, Ray Kerins, on Crisis Comms and the Role of Communications in the Covid Economy [Episode 34]

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Ray Kerins is senior vice president of corporate affairs for Bayer US.

Ray’s current position is the latest in a string of senior communications jobs in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry. Before joining Bayer in 2013, Ray was with Pfizer, serving as chief global spokesperson and overseeing global internal and external communications as vice president of external affairs and worldwide communications. Before that, he was chief global spokesperson for Merck & Co.

Ray has extensive experience on the agency side, including nine years at GCI Group and five years at Porter Novelli. Industry awards include PRWeek Magazine’s “Outstanding In-House Professional Award” and a 2009 “Top 40 Under 40” recognition from PRWeek. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Iona College and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Bayer Executive Leadership Program.

Here are some key takeaways from this interview.

Internal communications aid external communications more than ever.

If you’ve noticed that internal communications have recently become more central to corporate strategy, you’re right. As more employees have begun working from home, effective internal communications have turned out to be critical for telling employees what the corporation is doing and keeping them engaged. This ladders up to corporate strategy as well since employee awareness is critical for properly executed external comms.

Invest in STEM. Bayer made a pledge to devote corporate resources to educate five million high school students in STEM subjects, despite the fact that it didn’t immediately and directly impact the corporation. The brilliance of this move is twofold; first, it fills the pipeline with a diverse group of potential future scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematics who will benefit society. Second, it shows real-world alignment with Bayer’s motto: “Science For A Better Life.” This is the kind of far-sighted thinking that ensures a company’s bright future and enables a brand to really walk the walk with their brand’s motto.

Having a strong reputation pays its best dividends during challenging times. If you are known as an organization that does what's right even when nobody is looking, then when the going gets rough, employees and customers will stand by you. This doesn't just happen, though; it’s the type of reputation that has to be earned over time, simply by doing the right thing. If your brand simply tries to cover up issues that occur without taking accountability and responsibility, you aren’t building your reputation in a sustainable way.

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