Director, External Communications

Western Governors University

Salt Lake City, UT

ID: 7066584
Posted: May 29, 2020
Application Deadline: Open Until Filled

Job Description

If you’re passionate about building a better future for individuals, communities, and our country—and you’re committed to working hard to play your part in building that future—consider WGU as the next step in your career.

Driven by a mission to expand access to higher education through online, competency-based degree programs, WGU is also committed to being a great place to work for a diverse workforce of student-focused professionals. The university has pioneered a new way to learn in the 21st century, one that has received praise from academic, industry, government, and media leaders. Whatever your role, working for WGU gives you a part to play in helping students graduate, creating a better tomorrow for themselves and their families.

Position Summary:

The Director, External Communications is responsible for leading the university’s external communications, including media relations, reputation management, social media, and crisis communications. The Director is responsible for leading the development and implementation of public relations strategies for WGU and its entities as well as coordinating and supporting the efforts of the university’s state affiliates.

The major accountabilities of the position are developing public relations plans, messaging, and strategies and leading the day-to-day public relations functions for the university. With media relations and building thought leadership as the first priority, the incumbent will be responsible for ensuring that the content created and distributed by the department is strategic, on message, and top quality. The Director will work closely with senior leaders across the university on media relations and thought leadership initiatives. He/she will direct members of the external communications team and provide guidance, assistance, and coaching to public relations staff in WGU’s state affiliate organizations.

In addition to leading the external communications team, the Director, External Communications manages university agencies and vendors, develops short-term and long-term plans, and coordinates promotional efforts with the university marketing team.

The Director conceptualizes and oversees creation and development of reputation-building collateral, including brochures, annual reports, blog posts, op eds, articles, presentations, including video; and press releases.

The incumbent works closely with the PR content manager and internal communications manager as well as the marketing team to ensure that university communications are consistent in messaging and branding.

Essential Functions and Responsibilities:

Advance WGU’s efforts to create pathways to opportunity for all by increasing awareness of WGU’s critical work:

In coordination with University leaders and practice leaders in Policy and Public Affairs, developing a strategic external communications plan to support and advance WGU’s efforts to create pathways to opportunity for all.
Developing and leading a team of communications professionals to execute the strategic external communications plan.
Working in collaboration with external agencies, leading the efforts to secure mainstream, national media placements and driving targeted local media efforts to advance WGU thought leadership.
Leading the efforts to develop and implement PR plans and strategies, which include media relations, reputation enhancement/management, and thought leadership.
Overseeing the developing of effective collateral material, including video, brochures, website copy, op eds, and presentations.
Leading/coordinating planning of events, including promotion.
Directing the workflow of the external communications department including developing and reporting on progress of goals and milestones.
Knowledge, Skill and Abilities

Ability to provide vision and inspiration necessary to unite a team and accomplish significant goals
Ability to delegate and empower a team to accomplish significant goals
Collaborative work style that includes the ability to work well with senior leaders across an organization
Coalition builder
Understanding of media placement at the national and local levels, including:
Building relationships with reporters and news agencies
Understanding news cycles and deadlines
Excellent writing and editing proficiency, including:
Ability to quickly understand and capture in writing new concepts and ideas
Ability to write for different audiences
Ability to collaborate with others in the writing process
Strategic thinking
Creativity and willingness to try different approaches
Comprehensive knowledge of WGU brand and products as well as key audiences.

Minimum Qualifications:

Track record of success in media relations and agency management, including record of successful implementation of national and local media strategies.
5 years of experience managing a PR team, including:
Developing work plans, identifying goals, and contributing to strategic planning
Track record of hiring and developing future leaders
Managing a team to accomplish significant goals
Managing a budget
Demonstrated crisis media management experience
Existing relationships with media outlets and reporters
Track record of leveraging technology and data to accomplish PR related objectives
Preferred Qualifications:

2-3 years PR agency experience
Experience in writing and publishing about public policy and innovation
Experience and knowledge of video production and deployment within PR strategy


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