Top Women in PR 2014: Maura Payne

Maura Payne, Vice President, Communications, RAI Services Company 

A CEO changeover, the national expansion of an innovative new product, and the announcement of a $27.4 billion business acquisition — any one of these things alone would constitute a major challenge for most corporate communications professionals. For Maura, all of these events occurred during a four-month period, in which she successfully directed the development and effective execution of internal and external communications plans to support these special events, while overseeing all other corporate communications over the past year. Her efforts drove stakeholder awareness of company strategies that led the transformation of the tobacco industry.

When a CEO decides to retire and a former CEO returns to the position, speculation can be provoked on Wall Street and within a company. It takes transparent, impactful communications to deliver and manage the news in a way that assures investors, employees and all other key stakeholders of a seamless transition, continuing strong business fundamentals and continued commitments to the company’s key business strategies. Maura spearheaded internal and external communications initiatives that produced tremendous results. Employee response was positive and external communications on the change resulted in business-related stories that were fair and balanced, Wall Street remained confident in the company’s strategies and performance. This was illustrated by the consistent performance of Reynolds American’s stock price during the time of the change announcement.