Head of Communications – (Los Angeles, California, United States)

Manages the public communications program of a school or department or manages major public relations programs and/or projects for the university. Supervises assigned staff.

The University of Southern California Thornton School of Music is seeking a Head of Communications to lead its communications office.

The Head of Communications will be responsible for creating and executing a comprehensive communication and marketing strategy in support of the school’s mission. They will be an experienced strategist who can lead the development of campaigns to support and share the school’s emphasis on innovation and excellence.

This is a highly collaborative role requiring a seasoned professional who excels at building consensus across the school and the larger university, and who has shown great success in managing teams that include both staff members and freelance professionals.

This position has four primary areas of responsibility:

(1) Developing communications strategies, which include media relations, content marketing, publications, and event publicity. This would require planning skills to develop and implement PR and communications strategies aligned with the university’s goals and values. The candidate must be well-versed at writing copy, including press releases, media kits, speeches, and other PR materials. They should have experience building and sustaining relationships with media outlets, journalists, and influencers, and must be able to manage, route, and respond to media inquiries. In addition, the candidate must have experience in reputation management, and be able to handle crisis situations decisively, including developing crisis communication plans that are consistent with university values and practices. Experience in public speaking is preferred, as the candidate will represent the university in high-profile events.

(2) Creating a brand identity and visual strategy. The candidate must have familiarity with graphic design, video production, and multimedia storytelling, or experience working with professionals in those areas.

(3) Developing marketing strategies and engaging with target audiences, which includes campaign development, media planning, digital marketing, web development, and social media. The candidate must have interest in digital communications tools, including analytics, and should have experience managing social media accounts, creating content calendars, and monitoring online engagement. The candidate must have a knowledge and curiosity of the transforming media landscape, and the ability to create compelling content across various platforms that include social media, websites, newsletters, and publications. They must also demonstrate flexibility and adaptability to navigate changing priorities, industry trends, and technological advancements in communications.

(4) Managing marketing operations and insights, which includes project management and data analysis and reporting. The candidate must be able to manage budgets, allocate resources and oversee project spends. They should be a leader who can work with and mentor a team, and have the ability to cultivate a collaborative and innovative work environment. A critical requirement is the ability to engage and build relationships with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. The candidate needs to have a demonstrated commitment to fostering inclusion, diversity, and equity in all communications efforts; and be able to promote a welcoming and inclusive environment for all.

The ideal candidate should demonstrate creativity, strategic thinking, leadership, and strong interpersonal communication skills. The candidate should be highly creative, as they will be called on to develop innovative PR campaigns and initiatives that showcase the school’s strengths and achievements.

The candidate must have a minimum of 5 years of management experience in a communications office, with a proven track record of promoting a well-regarded institution. They should be an excellent writer and proofreader with exceptional verbal and presentation skills. The job requires a demonstrated ability to synthesize complex information and present it in a clear, concise, and conversational manner. The candidate should be a strategic thinker with proven experience in delivering results with impact, have strong project management skills and impeccable attention to detail.

More specifically, the candidate must be passionate about music, education, and the mission of a university music school. They need to understand the unique challenges and opportunities in promoting music at a large research university and promoting a music school in the broader educational landscape.

About USC Thornton

The USC Thornton School of Music is home to more than 185 faculty and 1,000 student music majors divided among three divisions: Classical Performance and Composition, Contemporary Music, and Research and Scholarly Studies. Founded in 1884, USC Thornton is the oldest continually operating cultural institution in Los Angeles. It consistently ranks among the top one percent of the nation’s music schools and conservatories. Graduates of the school attain positions with major orchestras, ensembles, recording studios, and music industry firms, and perform on stages and in studios around the world. Learn more about the school at http://music.usc.edu.

About USC

The University of Southern California (USC), founded in 1880, is located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, and is the largest private employer in the city. As an employee of USC, you will be a part of a world-class research university and a member of the “Trojan Family,” which comprises the faculty, students, staff, and alumni that make the university a prime place to learn, grow, and succeed.


A cover letter and resume are required. Applications without a resume or cover letter will not be considered.


The annual base salary range for this position is $ $120,000 to $140,000. When extending an offer of employment, the University of Southern California considers factors such as (but not limited to) the scope and responsibilities of the position, the candidate’s work experience, education/training, key skills, internal peer equity, federal, state and local laws, contractual stipulations, grant funding, as well as external market and organizational considerations.

Minimum Education: Bachelor’s degree, Combined experience/education as substitute for minimum education
Minimum Experience: 5 years
Minimum Field of Expertise: Public relations, communications, journalism or related field with supervisory experience.

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