Senior Director, Public Relations

Job Id: 
Santa Clara University
Job Type: 
Job Start Date: 
Application Closing Date: 
Contact Name: 
Santa Clara University
Contact Phone: 
(408) 554-4392
Contact Email:

Senior Director, Public Relations

Santa Clara University

Department: Office of Communication & Mktg

Part Year: No

FLSA Status: Exempt

Standard Hours (hours per week):

Position Purpose:

Reporting to the Associate Vice President for Marketing & Communications, the Senior Director, Public Relations is responsible for providing strategy, planning, and counsel on issues that impact the reputation and external perception of Santa Clara University. The Senior Director also manages and coordinates external messaging and communication strategies for various external audiences in emergency events.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

1. Manage crisis communication and controversial issues of interest to the media.

2. Serve as a “real time” strategist to assist university leaders in making decisions related to media relations and institutional image; provide counsel to the university’s senior leadership team on issues related to reputation, and media and public relations.

3. Serve as a key spokesperson for the university as required/requested by the Office of the President in official response to media, community, and external inquiries.

4. Provide leadership in messaging and communication strategy and implementation during emergency events.

5. Develop and implement internal and external communications strategies for Office of the President and Office of the Provost for high-level personnel announcements.

6. Coordinate with the Office of the President on strategy, planning and execution of incident messaging and communications in response to media, community, and external inquiries.

7. Coordinate with the Office of the President on follow-up responses and outreach with community and external inquiries.

8. Measure success and track impact and outcomes of strategic messaging and communication strategies.

9. Serve as a consultant and participate in developing communication plans and strategies to be implemented in situations where the reputation of the university may be impacted.

10. Evaluate the communications needs of a variety of audiences; making recommendations for continuous improvement of current initiatives.

11. Provide leadership in the planning, development and direction of communication strategies of current and anticipated scenarios.

12. Work with campus safety and facilities departments in campus-wide emergency drills and planning.

13. Build positive relationships with print and electronic reporters, editors, and producers at local regional and national levels, and with counterparts at other Jesuit Catholic universities.

14. Develop and maintain effective working relationships with media representatives.

15. Develop and maintain effective working relationships with leading community and governmental groups and individuals.
1. Recommend initiatives and implement changes to improve quality and services.

2. Keep informed of business trends and developments in communications and higher education issues.

3. Identify and determine cause of problems; develop and present recommendations for improvement of established processes and practices.

4. Maintain contact with external constituents and solicit feedback for improved university relations.

5. Maximize productivity through use of appropriate tools; planned training and performance initiatives.

6. Prepare progress reports; inform supervisor of project status and deviation from goals.

Prepare and submit reports as requested and required.

Provides Work Direction:



To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The items below are representative of the knowledge, skills, abilities, education, and experience required or preferred.
This position requires the ability to effectively establish and maintain cooperative working relationships within a diverse multicultural environment

Physical Demands:

The physical demands described below are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, the California Fair Employment & Housing Act, and all other applicable laws, SCU provides reasonable accommodations for qualified persons with disabilities. A qualified individual is a person who meets skill, experience, education, or other requirements of the position, and who can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.

• Considerable time is spent at a desk using a computer terminal.
• May be required to travel to other buildings on the campus.
• May be required to attend conference and training sessions within Bay Area or in- or out-of-state locations.
• May be required to occasionally travel to outside customers, media partners, vendors or suppliers.
• May at times require physical labor.
• This position has evening and weekend responsibilities for assistance with media and the university’s emergency communication needs.

Meeting with external constituents at off-campus locations including other offices, restaurants, and other private and public venues.

Work Environment:

The work environment characteristics described below are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job.

• Typical office environment
• Mostly indoor office environment
• Offices with equipment noise


a. A history of successful and close collaboration with senior leadership is essential.

b. Understanding and appreciation of the vision and values of a Jesuit Catholic educational mission.

c. Knowledge of higher education marketing and communication practices.

d. Demonstrated experience in handling complex communications challenges.

e. Strong customer service orientation and commitment to deliver innovative, high-quality stories that result in top tier press coverage.

f. Current knowledge of Bay Area and selected regional and national media.

g. Experience identifying and developing news and feature stories while proactively working with news organizations.

h. Experience/proven record in pitching and placing stories with print and broadcast reporters, producers and editors.

i. Evidence of initiative, judgment and understanding of broadcast news media, web tools and social networking, including television, radio and social media practices, schedules, and special needs.

j. Proven management and budgetary experience.


a. Outstanding interpersonal skills and the ability to represent University Relations at a high level with media partners, executive leadership and the university community.

b. Exemplary oral and written communication skills.

c. Strong negotiating skills. Ability to listen and to maintain a neutral perspective when important issues are being considered. Able to act as an arbitrator when dealing with complex issues and divergent constituencies.

d. Possess organizational and project management skills and an innovative approach to problem solving.

e. Ability to critically evaluate complex variables involved in preparing and recommending various courses of action related to the issues important to the university as they relate to the broader local and regional communities.

f. Ability to take initiative and demonstrate considerable skill in charting a course of action, in a diplomatic and respectful manner, when dealing with people and groups on controversial issues.

g. Must be goal-oriented and a self-motivated individual who can demonstrate accountability, initiative, creativity and focus in a rapidly changing and intellectually stimulating environment.

h. Demonstrate sound judgment in situations requiring independent decision-making and in handling confidential and sensitive material.

i. Demonstrate ability to manage time and work load to multitask and achieve goals in a deadline driven environment while maintaining a strong attention to detail.


a. Demonstrated ability to establish credibility with broad and diverse constituencies within a complex organization based upon integrity, critical thinking, outstanding operational performance, customer service orientation and excellent interpersonal skills.

b. Demonstrate a level of comfort working and communicating with top executives, community leaders, media representatives and/or university leadership. Ability to motivate, build long term relationships with and gain the respect of internal and external constituents.

c. Demonstrate a genuine appetite to contribute to a collaborative, ethical, and professional team environment.

d. Demonstrated ability to manage time and workload, to multitask and achieve goals in a deadline-driven environment while maintaining strong attention to detail.

e. Ability to keep senior University Relations leadership team abreast of all items and work efforts involved in university public relations.

f. Ability to take initiative, present options, and anticipate outcomes; to work with both urgency and calm; the ability to juggle multiple projects simultaneously; flexibility; and comfort working in a fast-paced and changing environment.

Education and/or Experience:

a. Bachelor’s degree in communications, public administration, public policy, or a relevant academic discipline. Master’s Degree in Communications or related field is preferred.

b. Ten or more years of progressive media/public relations and crisis communication.

Salary Information:

Close Date:

Open Until Filled: Yes

Special Instructions to Applicants:

To view the full job posting and apply for this position, go to

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University is a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located in California’s Silicon Valley, offering its 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s, Ph.D., and law degrees.

Distinguished by the highest retention rate and ranked second among all master’s universities in the West by U.S. News and World Report, Santa Clara University is California’s oldest operating institution of higher-education. The University is focused on creating an academic community that educates citizens and leaders who will build a more just, humane, and sustainable world.

Santa Clara University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer, committed to excellence through diversity and inclusion, and, in this spirit, particularly welcomes applications from women, persons of color, and members of historically underrepresented groups. The University will provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with a disability.

Santa Clara University annually collects information about campus crimes and other reportable incidents in accordance with the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. To view the Santa Clara University report, please go to the Campus Safety Services website at To request a paper copy please call Campus Safety at (408) 554-4441. The report includes the type of crime, venue, and number of occurrences.

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