Senior Public Communications Specialist – (Los Angeles, California, United States)

The University of Southern California (USC) is one of the world’s leading private research universities. Situated in the heart of Los Angeles, USC is home to 22 academic schools and units, and it is the region’s premier institution for the arts, athletics, business, engineering, law, sciences and technology. University Communications seeks a dynamic Senior Public Communications Specialist with public relations and/or journalism experience to join the USC Media Relations team within the central University Communications office.

Charged with enhancing and reinforcing USC’s reputation for world-class research and education, the USC Media Relations team tells the compelling stories of our students, engineers, scientists and medical professionals who are making a difference in Los Angeles and the world.  

Reporting directly to the Assistant Director of Media Relations, the Senior Public Communications Specialist will engage and collaborate with our community of university leaders, communications colleagues, faculty and students to cultivate timely and newsworthy stories about the university, its community, programs, major events, leadership priorities and student experiences. The specialist also promotes these stories to mainstream media — local, regional, national and international — to expand the university’s media footprint among several key, targeted audiences.

In particular, the Senior Public Communications Specialist will plan and write content, assist or advise on content ideas, and handle media outreach in the following areas: campus life, student achievements, special programs, sustainability, the university’s unique educational opportunities, its world-class leadership and outstanding faculty.

The ideal candidate will be:

  • A savvy, customer service-minded communicator who puts people first; a bridge builder.

  • A talented storyteller who embraces stories about campus life, student experiences and the university’s work in the community.

  • A creative self-starter who has an eye for the visual potential of a story. Communication planning experience is a plus.

  • A team player who works well with multiple collaborators within the department and across the university to shape and amplify newsworthy digital and visual content to targeted audiences.

  • An agile, organized and inquisitive critical thinker who is sensitive to the news climate and can quickly pivot to reprioritize projects and respond to needs or issues as they arise.

As a member of the USC Media Relations team, you will:

  • Develop and maintain effective working relationships with media on behalf of the university through direct outreach with local, state, national and international journalists, broadcast producers and editors; coordinate with external partners when assigned.

  • Collaborate on content and outreach projects with school communications teams, including at times: USC Rossier School of Education, the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, USC Price School of Public Policy and the USC Iovine & Young Academy, to build the media profiles of their outstanding experts.

  • Coordinate with team managers and colleagues to create and place content relative to any of the presidential priorities of health affairs; computing, artificial intelligence and big data; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); and sustainability.

  • Assist or advise on content ideas or media outreach for potential newsworthy stories from such offices as Admission, Auxiliary, Student Affairs, Sustainability and University Relations.

The specialist is also part of a team that:

  • Rotates responsibility for responding to daily journalist queries and coordinates closely with the university’s crisis communications team, as well as other university communications representatives.

  • Prepares administrators and faculty for interviews and assists with journalists, including reporters from student media, who are interviewing administrators, faculty or students for news stories.

  • Reports on media and content successes.

Required qualifications:

  • 5 years of experience in communications, journalism, marketing or public relations

  • Bachelor’s degree or combined experience/education as a substitute for minimum education

Preferred qualifications:

  • 10+ years in communications, public relations or journalism

  • Master’s degree

  • A track record of media placement, story broadcast or publication

  • Crisis communication, issues management experience

  • Skilled writer and communicator who works well on deadline

  • Experience with emergency response communications, including familiarity with the FEMA Incident Command System

Please submit the following:

  • Cover letter

  • Résumé

  • 3 writing samples – may include stories, press releases and/or successful media pitch letters

  • Links to 2-3 examples of placements in media

The annual base salary range for this position is $97,246.59$104,325.48. 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.

The University of Southern California is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Minimum Education:
Bachelor’s degree; Combined experience/education as substitute for minimum education.

Minimum Experience:
5 years of experience in communications, marketing, higher education, or related fields.

Minimum Skills:
Excellent written and oral communication skills, and proven copy editing experience.
Exemplary understanding of the nuanced messaging required for various audiences and distribution channels.
Demonstrated experience managing public relations and developing social media presence for an organization, and solid grasp of professionally utilizing social media platforms.
Experience with large and complex distribution lists.
Ability to interpret, analyze, and apply pertinent policies, procedures, regulations, and requirements.
Ability to build, develop, and manage positive working relationships and rapport with diverse, high-performing teams.
Proven ability to provide both detailed information as well as summaries to management-level individuals and groups, and experience presenting technical topics to non-technical audiences.

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