This is an exciting opportunity to join Maryland's fastest growing campus and Baltimore's largest university, Towson University.
The Associate Vice President of Communications and Media Relations is responsible for supporting the overarching priorities of the university and of the Division of University Marketing and Communications by positively and proactively highlighting the achievements of all segments of the Towson University community. The AVP is responsible for overseeing the department's ongoing efforts to shine a spotlight on the university's best programs, accomplishments, and accolades, and to provide information to the media, the campus community, and the general public proactively and transparently. The AVP is responsible for issues management and coordinating university's crisis communications efforts.
The AVP leads a team that includes a Director of Media Relations and News, Director of Publications, Assistant Director of Communications, and Supervisor of Switchboard Services. The AVP is a member of the University Marketing and Communications (UMC) senior leadership team and UMC crisis communications team. The position reports to and is a key advisor to the Vice President for University Marketing and Communications. The Division of University Marketing and Communications includes 5 units: Communications and Media Relations, Marketing and Brand Strategy, Enrollment Marketing, Creative Services, and Digital Strategy.
Description Issues Management, Crisis Communications and Public Affairs
The AVP anticipates and mitigates adverse or potentially negative issues that may impact the University’s reputation. As a leader of the divisional crisis communications team, the AVP take the lead in the ongoing crisis preparedness and advising of TU senior leadership and crisis team. The individual works collaboratively with the Vice President and media relations team to ensure the timely and accurate delivery of information to key audiences before (when possible), during and after an event.
• Develops and maintains issues management and crisis communications plans. • Coordinates and is responsible for ensuring the university meets all legal, policy, and compliance-related communications requirements (Clery). • Works collaboratively with Towson University Police Department and key Incident Response teams across campus, and provides counsel to senior leaders in the event of a crisis. • Maintains division’s continuity of operation plan (COOP) and coordinates the distribution of all-campus messages as appropriate. • Working with media relations director; notifies the news media about operational changes due to weather or other incidents. • Ensures that all staff are appropriately trained in responding to campus emergencies, including establishing of a phone bank room; contacting volunteers; and serving in any Incident Command Center. • Use the university’s owned and shared digital platforms to monitor activity and inform the campus and key audiences of incidents, emergencies, and crises. • Leads in the creation of content for platforms or channels such as microsites to provide ongoing updates and timely information to key audiences. • Researches best practices for issues and crisis communications management. • Demonstrates responsiveness 24 hours each day/7 days a week.
University Spokesperson & Media Relations
The primary university spokesperson, the AVP leads an active media relations program that cultivates relationships with traditional and nontraditional media, pitches stories proactively and responds to media requests.
• Serves as the primary media relations resource for campus, including story consulting, media training and communications strategy. Engages in both proactive and reactive contact with media. • Manages the university’s overall media relations efforts and strategies with the Director of Media Relations and News. • Manages and oversees external publicity functions such as editorial calls and letters; industry meetings; individual media contacts; planning and execution of media familiarization visits, and press conferences. • Works closely, as appropriate, with the Vice President and other members of the President's Council to develop and execute media strategy.
Communications & Reputational Strategy
The AVP develops and executes proactive strategic communications strategies and plans for the university that keep internal and external audiences informed, and build pride in Towson University as well as trust and confidence in the university. The position leads storytelling in all forms that reinforces the vision, mission, values of TU and conveys the distinctive contributions and impact of the institution and its community.
• Engages with senior-level and shared governance constituencies (Office of the President, Office of the Provost, University Advancement, Towson University Staff Council, University Senate, Student Government Association) to establish communications plans and deliverables that inform and engage their various audiences. • Plans and leads all university-wide communications efforts that promote and convey major campus-wide initiatives, critical timely notifications, presidential or university accomplishments, and other important information. • Working with news and writing team to create content in multiple forms including press releases, feature stories, web, and social media, storytelling, photo captions and multi-media presentations. • Working with Assistant Director of Communications on speechwriting and messaging for the President and other senior leaders. • Brand Journalism: As supervisor of Director of Publications, participates in the development of collateral materials, including presentations and brochures. Ensure consistency of brand, voice/tone, message, and image. Manages and is responsible for the content, appearance, and direction of the TOWSON magazine, fall and spring arts calendars, and other publications.
The AVP provides both unit and, at times, divisional leadership, overseeing the day-to-day activities of communications and media relations unit including budgeting, planning, human resources, and staff development. The position directly supervises; the Director of Media Relations and News, the Director of Publications, and the Assistant Director of Communications. The position indirectly supervises; an Associate Director of Publications, three Communications Strategists, a full-time support staff administrative assistant, and a student employee.
Serves on university-wide committees, as requested. Serves as the divisional leadership back-up to the Vice President for University Marketing and Communications.
Qualifications • Bachelor’s degree in public relations, journalism, communications, or a related field (english, professional writing, etc). • 10 years of professional communications, public relations experience in one or more of the following settings: education, non-profit, government or a complex organization with multiple stakeholders. • 3 years of supervisory or management experience, and proven track record as an effective manager who establishes high standards and clear expectations, and works to maintain superior office morale and team productivity. • Successful, real-world crisis communications experience. • Stellar, and exceptionally fluid and accurate writing, copyediting, and proofreading across a broad range of disciplines as well as technology platforms. • Extensive knowledge and use of social media in a dynamic and media-driven.
• Master’s degree in a relevant field • Higher Education experience • Previous experience as a journalist or spokesperson
• Solid media contacts and knowledge of best practices in media relations. • Understanding of basic news principles that support the placement of earned media coverage • Specialized knowledge of how best to place breaking research news. • Knowledge of media markets and reporters, encompassing a variety of topical categories, media types, modalities, and geographic regions. • Knowledge of trends and best practices in public relations as well as communications and media relations technology, platforms and content management systems; or, willingness and aptitude to learn necessary technologies. • Outstanding project-management skills; Demonstrated leadership in creating, implementing, and evaluating a multi-year, institution-wide communications plan, often under tight deadlines.
Soft Skills/Leadership Qualities
• Excellent judgment and creative problem solving skills, including negotiation and conflict resolution skills • Able to stay cool under pressure, particularly in crisis communication situations. • Work with a broad range of colleagues across a complex organization with the ability to effectively partner or present to gain buy-in from staff members and peers, to faculty, academic and administrative leadership, or even members of the Board of Trustees, as requested. • Capable of “turning on a dime” to most effectively achieve goals and support the VP of Marketing & Communications as well as other senior leaders, as directed. • Energetic, flexible, collaborative, and proactive; a team leader who can positively and productively impact both strategic and tactical initiatives. • Stature, gravitas, and confidence to gain credibility and respect of university leaders. • Self-reliant, results oriented. • An understanding of, and sensitivity to, the diverse academic, socioeconomic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds of all stakeholders required.
A criminal background Investigation is required for the hired candidate and the results may impact employment.
Salary and Benefits Competitive Salary and full University benefits that include 22 days of annual leave, up to 14 holidays, personal and sick days; excellent health, life and retirement plans; and tuition remission. To learn more about our benefits, click here.
This position will be open for a minimum of 14 days. Cover letter and resume are requested, but not required.
Internal Number: 180000VJ
About Towson University
The largest comprehensive university in the Baltimore area, Towson University is nationally recognized for its excellent programs in the arts and sciences, communications, business, health professions, education, fine arts and computer information systems. Located in suburban Towson, eight miles north of Baltimore, our beautifully landscaped, 328-acre setting offers a pleasant environment for study and a diverse campus life, as well as easy access to a wealth of university and community resources. Towson University's educational experience branches out to off-campus locations throughout Maryland, including a number of online options. Our many interdisciplinary partnerships with public and private organizations throughout Maryland provide opportunities for research, internships and jobs. Towson University is a founding member of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU).