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Senior Media Relations Specialist

University of British Columbia

Job Description

Job Summary
Strategizes and executes a wide variety of senior media relations tasks designed to enhance the university's reputation by working with administrators, faculty, staff and students to communicate UBC’s research, activities, services, goals and objectives to audiences through local, national and international media. This position has a special responsibility to coach and support Faculty Media Relations team members as well as to provide issues management services to faculty clients. The position delivers customized media training for members of the administration and faculty members. It provides media relations support primarily to the Faculty of Medicine.

Organizational Status
Reports to the Team Lead, Faculty Media Relations and Director, Media Relations.

Work Performed

  • Developing and implementing comprehensive integrated university-wide communications plans and projects
  • Provide strategic planning and project management leadership on university-wide initiatives – particularly in support of UBC faculties and their external communications priorities.
  • Developing enterprise media and communications strategies and communities of practice to support senior faculty administration; faculties, departments and faculty members;
  • Liaise with Deans and senior faculty-based communicators to support their external communications objectives
  • Maintaining and developing relationships with key university stakeholders including Deans, senior faculty communicators, research faculty and staff to align media relations activities with faculty external relations objectives
  • Providing coaching, mentorship and guidance to Faculty Media Relations team members
  • Supporting the Director, Media Relations on special communications projects with the aim of building broader UBC communicator capacity and resilience in the areas of media relations and strategic communications planning
  • Researching and writing media releases, Q&As, stories and other materials for UBC News;
  • Pitching story ideas to news media;
  • Liaising with faculty, students, campus communicators and other staff, department heads and deans to solicit story ideas;
  • Providing media training to faculty and students; Producing digital and social media content to support media relations and strategic communications objectives;
  • Liaising with communications staff of governments, granting agencies and research partners;
  • Responding to media inquiries and referring media to experts or other sources of information and providing factual background information;
  • Assisting in the maintenance of information for the UBC Experts Guide and media contacts lists;
  • Planning, organizing and conducting news conferences and other events as required and in conjunction with senior administration, UBC Government Relations and faculty;
  • Advanced skills to support the communication of institutional priorities of the university and the Communications portfolio
  • Providing advanced issues management support and counsel in collaboration with senior team members for UBC faculty client; function as a university spokesperson on academic and faculty issues
  • Supporting team and portfolio-wide initiatives and business operational goals.
  • Participate in after-hours media on-call roster

Consequence of Error/Judgement
Senior Media Relations Specialists are expected to function with a high degree of autonomy and independence, working under broad guidelines. The consequence of error in this area could be very serious for the university as it concerns the public image of UBC on a provincial, national and international level. Incorrect or insufficient information and advice subsequently passed on to senior administration could have grave consequences.

Supervision Received

Works under broad guidelines established by the Senior Director, Media Relations and Director, Media Relations with no technical guidance and minimal guidance on issues management.

Supervision Given

The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities globally. A large part of what makes us unique is the community of engaged students, faculty, and staff who are collectively committed to shaping a better world.

Recognized as a leading employer in British Columbia and Canada, UBC supports inspired students, faculty and staff on their journey of discovery, and challenges them to realize their greatest potential. New ideas, changing infrastructure, innovative technology, and fresh approaches are opening up possibilities for the future of research, teaching, and work. Are you ready to embrace the future together?

Equity and diversity are essential to academic excellence. An open and diverse community fosters the inclusion of voices that have been underrepresented or discouraged. We encourage applications from members of groups that have been marginalized on any grounds enumerated under the B.C. Human Rights Code, including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, racialization, disability, political belief, religion, marital or family status, age, and/or status as a First Nation, Metis, Inuit, or Indigenous person.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.


Minimum Qualifications
Undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline. Minimum nine years of experience in media relations, journalism or the equivalent combination of education and experience.

Preferred Qualifications

Ability to communicate effectively verbally and in writing; translate complex ideas and research findings into plain language; and communicate effectively with the media. Ability to communicate effectively via social media and through the use of multimedia elements. Ability to manage multiple tasks and priorities; keep up with current affairs news and trends; and work effectively with various levels of university personnel. Familiarity with Canadian Press style; local B.C. and Canadian news outlets and reporters, and international outlets. Familiarity with principles of equity, diversity and inclusion and their application in communication activities. A background in science, medicine journalism or communication, and familiarity with the academic journal publication process would be an asset. Strategic communications and public relations expertise would be an asset. Experience coaching, managing or mentoring staff would be an asset.

How To Apply