New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association Job Description
TITLE: Director of Communications
LOCATION: Trenton or near-Trenton preferred
About the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association
The New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association (NJPCSA) is the non-profit membership association that represents the state’s charter school community and, by extension, charter school students and their parents. There are currently 87 charter schools in New Jersey serving approximately 56,000 students. We are committed to advancing quality public education for New Jersey’s children through the cultivation of excellent public charter schools. The Association seeks to influence legislative and policy environments, leverage collective advocacy, and provide resources to support our members in developing and operating high quality, charter schools.
Job Description: The Director of Communications oversees all aspects of the communications efforts undertaken by the New Jersey Public Charter Schools Association. The Director of Communications answers directly to the CEO of the organization and works closely with the CEO and the organization’s Board of Trustees and members to create and implement a communication strategy that aligns with the mission and vision of the Association. Because the highest priority of the Association is to secure policy wins and build long-term advocacy strength, the organization’s communications efforts are expected to support and advance the organization’s advocacy work. The organization is involved in a wide array of communications efforts including web, social media, email, media relations, commentary placement, paid media campaigns and other activity. The Director of Communications is also responsible for growing the structural capacity and sophistication of the organization’s long-term communications efforts. This includes creating structures for convening charter school leaders and advocacy partners regularly so that the Association may bring a wide array of allies into a shared communication strategy meant to support the needs of the broader sector of charter schools in New Jersey.
- Build the Narrative. Work closely with the CEO to create an overarching narrative for the Association as well as for New Jersey’s broader sector of charter schools.
- Assisting in the creation of the organization’s proactive communications agenda and the integration of that agenda through all of the other activities of NJPCSA thereby maximizing the Association’s potential to frame discussion of policy matters important to charter schools in as favorable a light as possible.
- Building a proactive calendar of annual events meant to keep the narrative of the organization a central frame informing and guiding the opinions of policy makers and other key constituencies.
- Serving as a key ambassador for the organization’s communications strategy, effectively aligning many key stakeholders – operators, funders, advocacy partners and others – to maximize their willingness to contribute to the communications efforts of the organization.
- Driving greater awareness generally about charter schools and the positive impact they are having on students and on the broader public education system.
- Generate Content: Serve as the lead creator/assembler of the content that is needed to support the full breadth of the Association’s communications efforts including:
- Effectively and quickly writing and/or editing all of the statements, op-eds, research papers, articles, postings, publications and other documents generated by the NJPCSA organization.
- Writing effectively in the many different voices that are needed to present the breadth and diversity of New Jersey’s charter schools including the experience of students, parents, teachers and other key stakeholder groups.
- Continuously updating and exercising wise editorial control over the organization’s websites and social media sites.
- Managing well the organization’s brand such that NJPCSA becomes better known among a wide host of audiences to be a constructive force in support of charter schools and in support of high-quality public education generally.
- Support Advocacy: Demonstrate a keen ability to engage in communications efforts supporting the policy priorities of the NJPCSA including:
- Writing and placing just-in-time high impact op-eds and other commentary to help secure additional votes or otherwise positively affect advocacy positions being taken by the organization.
- Building deep understanding of which kinds of communications campaigns – social media vs paid mailers vs grassroots initiatives – best support the advocacy efforts of the broader organization.
- Creating ongoing targeted communication with policy makers that build relationship and awareness and incline them to be supportive of the organization’s policy priorities.
- Manage Media Relations: Exercise continuously great judgement about how to manage interaction with media.
- Proactively building relationships with reporters and editorial boards so that they are informed and as inclined to be supportive of charter schools as possible.
- Devising strategy for how best to interact with media as various articles and news stories break regarding New Jersey’s charter schools.
- Serving as lead point of contact and often spokesperson for the organization on matters requiring direct interface with reporters, editors and other representatives of news media.
- Preparing organizational representatives, charter school leaders and others for media interviews including devising talking points and other support materials as needed.
- Training charter school leaders and others within the charter school base about effective earned media strategies.
- Track and Understand Public Opinion. Effectively monitor public opinion regarding charter schools and advise the CEO and Board about how changing opinion affects the ongoing advocacy priorities of the organization
- Collecting and synthesizing polling information from other key partners to broaden the organization’s understanding of polling trends.
- Ensuring that appropriate over-sampling of key demographic groups and geographic regions is undertaken so that key sub-groups’ views about charter schools are also understood.
- Communicating effectively with the NJPCSA Board and other key partners so that all parties maintain a current understanding of the polling trends affecting charter schools.
- Manage the Base. Keep the growing base of charter school stakeholders, especially those working in communications, aligned behind the communications strategy of the organization.
- Engaging charter school stakeholders working on communications efforts to align behind shared communications efforts meant to advance the interests of the broader movement.
- Effectively aggregating charter school stories from school sites and putting those stories to work on behalf of the policy priorities of the organization.
- Encouraging charter school stakeholders to increase their regular interaction with policy makers and equipping them with talking points and other key messages aligned with the organization’s advocacy efforts.
- Build Structural Capacity: Expand the organization’s ability long-term ability and sophistication to achieve ever higher levels of communications excellence.
- Developing the structural communications capacities of the organization, including platforms enabling social media engagement, mass email campaigns and stakeholder involvement in online efforts to contact policy makers on policy matters of importance to charter schools.
- Building long term communications assets such as data bases of stakeholders, policy makers and opinion leaders.
- Demonstrating growing expertise in targeted mailing, billboard placement, social media campaigns and other paid media efforts instilling confidence in funders and other key partners that the organization uses communications resources effectively.
- Build the association’s and member charter schools’ capacity to manage challenging and crisis communications situations.
Required Background and Capabilities
- A deep passion for the charter school movement, including a deep understanding of what makes New Jersey’s charter school movement unique.
- A deep passion for and expertise regarding the communications field, including many years of leading communications efforts in a variety of professional settings.
- Experience managing the range of communications activities – web, social media, earned media, targeted mailers, video, high impact publications, etc – that effective advocacy organizations undertake.
- Deep relationships with the full range of reporters and other media staff working on education matters in New Jersey.
- Incredible work ethic, willing to go above and beyond on behalf of New Jersey’s charter schools and the parents and families they serve.
- Background or experience working in New Jersey’s legislature and/or other important policy settings having bearing on charter schools.
- Relationships with key stakeholders in the New Jersey charter schools landscape or the ability to establish quickly high levels of trust and working relationship with these stakeholders.
- Great team builder and ability to create strong culture both within the organization as well as throughout the broader charter school community.
- Reside within New Jersey with strong preference for living within close proximity of the state’s capital.
- At least 5 years professional work experience in communications with strong preference that the candidate also have some experience in public schools or in education-related activities.
- Bachelors degree in journalism, communications, public relations or related field is required. Master’s degree in related field preferred.
- Knowledge of the operational and compliance issues related to the development and operation of 501c4 organizations and PACs.
- Strong command of communications tools including database, social media platforms, email, CRM and other software and platforms.
- Fluency in Spanish is preferred.
Benefits and Salary
The salary for this position is $75,000. In addition, NJPCSA offers a competitive benefits package including medical and dental coverage, as well as retirement benefits.
Candidates interested in applying for this role, should submit the following no later than September 30, 2020 to email@example.com:
- Cover letter (specifically indicating how you will help NJPCSA meet its mission);
- Resume; and,
- At least two (2) writing samples in English of your choice.