Director of Media and Public Relations: Job Description

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ("Foundation") believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and we believe that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom to be found there.  Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.  It makes grants in four core program areas (Higher Learning, Arts and Culture, Public Knowledge, and Humanities in Place).  The Foundation seeks a Director of Media & Public Relations in the Communications department.

Summary

Department Summary

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's team of communications professionals are responsible for building and stewarding the Foundation brand and to tell its story, driving outreach and engagement efforts both internally and externally.  Our work strives to:

  • Build broad brand affinity and connection with The Mellon Foundation's work
  • Encourage appreciation, understanding of, and engagement with the work of our grantees
  • Broadly advocate for the centrality of the arts and humanities in culture

Reporting to the Chief Communications Officer, the Director of Media and Public Relations will be part of a growing team of communications professionals at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, tasked with raising the visibility of the Foundation's mission, grantees, and story.

The ideal candidate will have sharp media and public relations instincts and a strong network of positive relationships with reporters at significant outlets.  With consistently good judgment and modern media savvy the successful candidate demonstrates understanding of the cross-platform nature of contemporary media strategy; exhibits strong writing and editing skills for diverse materials for various audiences; works collaboratively and openly and seeks to be of service to other areas of the Foundation, including Foundation program staff; operates very efficiently under tight deadlines while juggling multiple tasks and projects; has extensive experience working across levels of seniority including directly with senior leadership.

Position Description

The Director is responsible for the following:

  • Supporting the Chief Communications Officer in developing and implementing media strategy, managing issues and driving awareness about Foundation grants and grantees; drafting communications plans in support of this awareness-raising.
  • Lead, review, vet and ensure the team's accurate and timely responses to deadline-driven media inquiries.
  • Preparing Foundation leadership for media engagements, including developing briefing materials for leadership to prepare for interviews, media training, and background materials.
  • Work closely with the President's immediate office and Communications to manage media inquiries for the Foundation's president.
  • Work across the Foundation and its grantees to identify opportunities and stories to increase the number of positive earned media placements across modern and traditional media.
  • Develop public relations strategies to drive audience engagement and awareness for Mellon-hosted events—both in-person and virtual.
  • Pitch Mellon-created content and news to appropriate outlets.
  • Nurture strong relationships with top-flight journalists locally and nationally, with deep knowledge of key reporters in all major media markets with strong emphasis in the higher education, arts and culture verticals.
  • Develop successful news social media strategies and approaches for both promotion and dissemination of Mellon-related news; understanding of how to maximize publicity strategies with influencers.
  • Along with the Chief Communications Officer, serve as official Foundation spokesperson on key issues.
  • Continually identify ways to enhance the efficiency and streamline operations of the media relations function, staying up-to-date on contemporary best practices and tools.
  • Works to develop, track, and report media relations metrics and benchmarks.
  • Staff senior leaders for both external events and Mellon events.

Responsibilities

  • 30% – Media inquiries:  Ensure timely, accurate and strategic responses to media inquiries for the Foundation and for the Foundation's President.  Ensure coordinated messaging with other departments and grantees or other collaborators; developing media briefings for executive leadership.
  • 20% – Media relations and public relations strategy:  Support Chief Communications Officer and others in the department in developing, overseeing, and implementing media strategy to support communications plans.  Manage a wide variety of high-profile issues and drive engagement for Mellon events.  Foster positive relationships with media outlets and reporters; build audiences and awareness for Mellon activities.
  • 30% – Writing:  Write exceedingly well and quickly, with minimal editing and feedback necessary.  Accurately capture the "voice" of Mellon.  Draft internal communications plans and external statements, op-eds, and other high-profile collateral for senior leaders as needed.  Help review and copyedit the team's work and writing to ensure consistently high-quality collateral.
  • 10% – Executive and event staffing:  Staff and support senior leaders at high-visibility Mellon events, draft briefing materials for the President, manage the daily clips to senior staff and support the department staff.
  • 10% – Department support:  Identify ways to optimize the effectiveness, functionality and efficiency of the department and implement improvements.  Help create additional structure and resources to allow better editorial planning and organization by the team.  Contribute to social media strategy for news and metrics-reporting mechanisms to evaluate effectiveness.

Required Skills and Experience

The successful candidates will have the following qualifications:

  • Master's degree preferred; bachelor's degree required.
  • At least ten years of experience in strategic communications, public relations or media relations, journalism or related field, and a demonstrated history of working in a high-visibility, mission-driven environment with constant deadlines.  Management experience preferred.
  • Exceptional media strategist:  Understands how media strategy intersects with broader communications goals; has demonstrated experience developing media strategy and executing the strategy with success and positive results.
  • Deep media knowledge:  Extensive knowledge of the concepts, trends and dynamics of media outlets, reporters and the news cycle.  Prior, positive relationships with reporters and outlets required.  Digital experience and understanding contemporary use of social media channels is essential.
  • Exceptional oral and written communications skills, including strong editing skills.  Experience and proven ability to serve effectively as an organizational spokesperson. History of crisp but rigorous writing and editing for highly visible clients or organizations
  • Experience in crafting effective, comprehensive, and creative media relations plans for projects, events and campaigns with metrics and reporting capabilities.  Ability to coordinate well with others in carrying out those plans.
  • Experience promoting activities and events for both media coverage and audience-building to support top organizational leadership.
  • Sound judgment:  Ability to provide well-reasoned, highly informed and strategic counsel to the department and senior leaders.
  • Ability to quickly cultivate strong relationships not only within an organization, but also with external clients and stakeholders, including reporters.
  • Reliable, trustworthy and operates consistently with the utmost integrity.  Can foster commitment, trust and teamwork within the department and division.

The Foundation is an equal opportunity employer that offers a competitive salary, outstanding benefits, and excellent working conditions.

Contact Information

Candidates should apply by submitting a thoughtful cover letter describing fit for the position together with a resume to:  AWMF Director of Media & Public Relations.  The Foundation will consider each response carefully, but only contact those individuals it believes are most qualified for the position.