Wellesley is in a strong position to meet the greater scrutiny—from both internal and external audiences—that is the new normal on college campuses across the country.
We have the advantage of both a strong mission and a stellar reputation. Our key messages are informed by our institutional values and strategic goals and they guide the development of all of the College’s communications. From the website’s Daily Shot to our social media engagement efforts to 100+ mentions in major media outlets each year, the College creates hundreds of communications throughout a typical year, all of which are designed to convey key messages and reflect the College’s visual identity in order to build community, increase visibility, and enhance Wellesley’s reputation in the world at large.
Today, following the lead of our visionary president, we also build Wellesley’s brand through the College’s response to issues, including controversial issues—taking advantage of every opportunity to demonstrate who Wellesley is and what we stand for.
Position Summary The Senior Director of Communications leads the development of both internal and external communications designed to support the College’s mission, values, and key messages in order to build the College’s sense of community and enhance its reputation in the world. This position reports directly to the Chief Communications Officer (CCO). The Senior Director of Communications collaborates closely with the CCO to formulate strategic messaging and to ensure its integration across the range of the College’s communications.
The Senior Director develops communications strategies and plans to build greater awareness of Wellesley’s leadership identity—promoting important College thought leaders, achievements, innovations, and initiatives to the public at large.
The Senior Director also develops strategic plans to update the community on the College’s work on issues of interest on campus—from sustainability and carbon reduction to the College’s strategic planning initiative to the pedagogical possibilities opened up by the College’s new science center.
The Senior Director manages internal and external people and resources to execute these communications plans and analyzes results to measure progress towards goals and inform future planning.
The role also leads the development of communications designed to respond effectively—and often rapidly—to significant and frequently controversial issues. The Senior Director develops response plans designed to mitigate the negative effects of controversy that are informed by the College’s mission and key messages; best practices of “crisis” communications; and best insights into Wellesley’s leadership, campus community, and alumnae body. The Senior Director will supervise the ongoing development of C&PA’s editorial calendar and lead the weekly editorial meeting of the C&PA team, coordinating the activities of the team as communications are planned across messages and channels. Understanding that internal and external communications are closely related—and that communications have greater impact when they layer, repeat, echo each other—the Senior Director will ensure that messaging is effective and well integrated.
Primary Position Responsibilities: • Includes oversight of both internal and external communications. The Senior Director of Communications works closely with the CCO to develop strategic messaging and plans to build the College’s sense of community and enhance its reputation in the world at large. The Senior Director works to illuminate Wellesley’s thought leadership—promoting initiatives that reinforce the leadership of the College and its faculty, highlighting important College announcements and initiatives. Maintaining a close working relationship with the Director of Media Relations and the Director of Digital Marketing, the Senior Director will coordinate messaging across communications channels. The Senior Director will also collaborate closely with the Senior Communications Advisor to integrate the concepts and language created for the president’s communications throughout the range of C&PA’s communications. • Develops internal communications to inform and engage the Wellesley community. The Senior Director is responsible for developing timely, clear, straightforward, accurate content that illuminates the issues that inform and inspire our community. The Senior Director develops strategic communications plans and oversees implementation via email, website, Daily Shot, social media, campus-wide video screen network, and more. • Thinks creatively about generating awareness of Wellesley’s key messages externally. Explores multi-media approaches to deliver stories to external audiences including the print, video, photographic content needed to break through. The Senior Director develops compelling messaging and longer-term strategic plans to proactively pursue thought leadership opportunities. Draws from relevant intelligence, assets, and proof points in order to establish Wellesley’s authority and build the College’s visibility. • Takes the lead in managing Wellesley’s response to significant issues—ensuring messaging is informed by the College’s mission and key messages; best practices of “crisis” communications; and best insights into Wellesley’s leadership, campus community, and alumnae body. An issue may lead to heated community debate or an issue may travel further with the potential to impact the College’s reputation. An issue will sometimes require an immediate response, other times the Senior Director will have the opportunity to anticipate and prepare for emerging issues and trends. • Writes or edits a wide range of communications, including news releases, College Announcements, all-alumnae emails, social media posts, annual report letters, scripts, speeches, talking points and issues cards. When developing and executing strategic plans that specifically anticipate—and are designed to defuse—controversial decisions or situations considers a full range of communications vehicles including alumnae magazine, social media, podcasts, and websites, alumnae magazine, alumnae volunteer newsletters, and support from key influencers, and more. • Responsible for C&PA’s editorial calendar. The Senior Director will supervise the ongoing updating and refinement of the editorial calendar, which each week drives the Daily Shot schedule and guides the planning and development of integrated communications across communications channels. Leads the weekly editorial meeting of the C&PA group to coordinate the activities of the team. Oversees the development of communications, ensuring that messaging is on target and consistently conveyed. • Monitors the landscape including industry associations like AICUM and COFHE, the College’s Faculty/Staff, and the Chronicle of Higher Ed and Inside Higher Ed. Listens to conversations on social media and follows key hashtags. Continuously benchmarks Wellesley’s response against other colleges and institutions. Twice a year, the Senior Director forecasts pending issues and identifies any steps the College should proactively take to prepare. • Manages the Administration’s relationship with Wellesley News editors and reporters, understanding that external media outlets source stories and information from the school’s newspaper. • Manages the work of the strategic (aka crisis) communications firm and helps implement other key strategies designed to manage controversy. For example, proactively builds consensus by involving key stakeholders (faculty partners and alumnae ambassadors) in decision-making and enlists their help in communicating decisions to the broader stakeholder groups they represent. • Stays abreast of industry trends and best practices. • Takes on related duties and special projects as assigned. Supervises: The 12-member C&PA team; With three direct reports: Director of Design, Director of Digital Marketing and Communications, Director of Media Relations
Education Required: Bachelor’s Degree
Experience Required: • Ten plus (10+) years’ experience in communications/journalism and/or strategy development/reputation management • Successful track record of developing successful communications strategies • Experience in developing and implementing communications plans with demonstrable project management skills • Experience developing both new content as well as the plans to promote new content for higher education and/or closely related NFP organizations • Four (4) to six (6) years experience at managing individuals and teams • Proven ability to build relationships and influence outcomes both with and without authority • Strong understanding of and experience with social and digital media • Crisis/issue management background Skills and Abilities Required: • Strong strategic skills including the ability to analyze situations, set goals, prioritize resources, solve problems, and effectively progress towards intended outcomes • Exceptional written communication skills—able to create communications that instill pride, make a compelling case, engender support, inspire action • Excellent verbal communication skills—strong presentation skills and an ability to persuade • Seasoned and effective manager of people and process • Ability to oversee and collaborate with a variety of constituencies including C&PA team members, college departments and groups, outside vendors and contributors • Experience developing and implementing communications campaigns, including fundraising campaigns and brand communications campaigns • Facility with the development of communications strategies and creative briefs • Ability to manage urgent, short-term projects and complex, longer-term projects • Ability to work in a fast-paced team environment efficiently and effectively • Through understanding of and appreciation for the College’s mission • Diplomacy, organizational skills, creativity, a high degree of flexibility, and a sense of humor are all attributes that will advantage the successful candidate
Wellesley is known for the excellence of its education, the beauty of its setting, its gifted faculty, and the uniqueness of its campus culture. But most of all, Wellesley is known for the thousands of accomplished, thoughtful women it has sent out into the world for over 100 years women who are committed to making a difference. Every year, some 2,400 of the world's top undergraduate women are challenged to exceed their own highest personal and intellectual expectations. The mastery Wellesley graduates demonstrate across the professional and vocational spectrum, and the influence they wield, whether in their own communities or on the world stage is testament to a singularly empowering undergraduate experience. Wellesley's lively academic community places a high value on rigorous, probing inquiry, and creative, cross-discipline thinking. Its collaborative approach to scholarship encourages students to question, debate, and refine their points of view, not only with each other, but with our world-class faculty, often by working directly with them on groundbreaking projects. A Wellesley education fosters the highest standard of readiness for the real world in its graduates, in terms... of ability to think, act, and contribute meaningfully and effectively in their chosen areas of interest.