Sr. Director of Communications and Issues Management

Apply now Job no: 493118
Work type: Staff Full-Time
Location: Denver, CO
Categories: Marketing / Communications / Media

The Division Marketing and Communications serves as a strategic advisor to partners and units across campus, purposefully fulfilling partners goals and objectives, helping to increase knowledge, support enrollment and engage students, alumni, faculty and staff. The division proactively shapes the University's brand and optimizes the University's reputation internally and externally in a transparent manner.

In words, in pictures, online and in the news media, the Division of Marketing and Communications shares the many stories of how DU and its people are improving the human condition, for the purpose of advancing the University's strategies. The team specializes in brand management, strategic communication, community engagement, media relations, digital and social media strategy, website development and content training and strategy, print and online publications and videography and photography.

Position Summary

The Sr. Director for Communications and Issues Management reports directly to the Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications. The incumbent in this new position will play a critical role in planning strategies and implementing tactics for external and internal audiences to advance the University's national visibility and handle a portfolio of current and emerging issues that pose a reputational risk to the University. The Sr. Director for Communications and Issues Management will serve as a back-up spokesperson to the Vice Chancellor across local, national and international media. In this role, the incumbent will lead cross-functional teams in support of University value drivers, including academics and research, advancement, and athletics. The incumbent will also lead a shared services team that drives the divisions focus on the University's strategic priorities and value drivers, including admissions, academics and research, advancement, and athletics. The communications shared services team will educate, support and inspire experience and engagement among University stakeholders. The Sr. Director for Communications and Issues Management will also lead inter-campus crisis planning, simulations, media training for sensitive issues and be the primary contact point with our outside agency. The Sr. Director for Communications and Issues Management will work closely with the Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications and other University leadership on understanding, planning, acting, tracking and following up on a wide variety of issues and opportunities.

Essential Functions

  • The Sr. Director for Communications and Issues Management will lead in the development of strategic communications plans for academics and research, advancement, and athletics and manage a shared services team that drives the divisions focus on the University's strategic priorities and value drivers, including admissions, academics and research, advancement, and athletics.
  • The communications shared services team will educate, support and inspire experience and engagement among University stakeholders.
  • Respond to and advise on proactive and reactive communications needs arising at the most senior levels of the University on issues that pertain to their areas and serve as back-up spokesperson to the Vice Chancellor for crisis communications.
  • Scan the horizon and evaluate priority issues and opportunities that may impact the University (internally and externally); create and maintain an issues playbook.
  • Convene and manage the Emerging Issues Council to identify and address issues in a proactive manner.
  • Serve as primary back-up to the Vice Chancellor on the University's crisis team; assist in emergency management training exercises and crisis preparedness activities.
  • Manage external media relations, social media strategy, and internal communications working with team leads focused on academics and research, advancement, athletics, and the University's strategic priorities.
  • Develop communications plans, including defining messages, creating and implementing strategies to position the University in achieving short- and long-term goals.
  • Collaborate with teams to provide guidance and assistance with media needs and support the Vice Chancellor's Communicators Roundtable to foster collegiality, coordination and collaboration among, the University's communication and marketing professionals.
  • Solidify and advance productive relationships with local and regional news media and serve as the primary contact point with our outside agency as it works to foster and maintain positive relationships with international and national media; collaborate with crisis communications firm of record.
  • Cultivate relationships with emergency management agency public information officers.
  • Provide continually updated and relevant content; advance external publicity plans; encourage and advise on outreach efforts with members of top-tier media outlets and higher ed publications; shape key University messages to ensure consistent messaging across channels to improve awareness of the University's priorities, raise its global visibility, and protect its reputation.
  • Manage the advancement and distribution of content for The Bridge, DU Newsroom and other University channels and platforms.
  • The success of this role demands a strong office presence and leader who will encourage and provide opportunities to collaborate across the University.
  • The incumbent will work comprehensively across functional teams within the division to establish and maintain quality control standards in the development and dissemination of content across multiple channels.
  • Support strategic priorities and emphasize the University's academics and research excellence while supporting admissions, advancement and athletics needs and initiatives.
  • Provide meaningful professional development and career growth opportunities for existing staff while developing a pipeline of future talent and recruiting staff that can help diversify and enrich the division.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Flexibility, excellence, sense of urgency, and passion are vital qualities within the division.
  • Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion; collaboration and cultural sensitivity are critical to the University.
  • Deep understanding of issues management with a proactive approach along with demonstrated ability to build and implement crisis communications plans with strong adherence to and understanding of best practices.
  • Capability to write for a variety of audiences using various forms of storytelling across an array of channels and mediums.
  • Remaining calm under pressure.
  • Superior news judgement, persuasive verbal and written communication and presentation skills, and outgoing personality.
  • Capacity to independently and effectively prioritize and manage multiple projects at a time in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment.
  • High level of integrity, trustworthiness, respect, and ability to research options, think creatively, and make sound decisions.
  • Experience handling sensitive issues and high visibility projects with success in implementing sound internal and external communications strategies while navigating within a complex organization.
  • Willingness and ability to work outside of normal business hours.

Required Qualifications

  • Bachelor's degree or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • 8+ years of experience in communications, journalism, publication relations or a related field.
  • Previous experience managing people.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Master's degree in communications or a related field.
  • Previous experience in higher education or non-profit organization.

Work Schedule
Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. May required evenings and weekends as required.

Application Deadline
For best consideration, please submit your application materials by 4:00 p.m. (MST) on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.

Special Instructions
Candidates must apply online through jobs.du.edu to be considered. Only applications submitted online will be accepted.

Salary Range
Salary will be determined by the qualifications of the selected candidate balanced with departmental budget availability, internal salary equity considerations, and available market information.

Please include the following documents with your application:

  1. Resume
  2. Cover Letter
  3. Two writing samples in which one of the writing samples must include crisis/issues management.
  4. Sample of a plan you have put together for crisis communication.

The University of Denver is committed to enhancing the diversity of its faculty and staff. We are an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment regardless of age, race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, military/ veteran status or any other status protected by law.

All offers of employment are based upon satisfactory completion of a criminal history background check.

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