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Project Manager - Community Relations

Salary: N/A

DEFINITION: Under administrative direction, develops and implements pro-active County-wide community and public relations strategies in order to assist decision-makers in achieving the County's mission and goals, and in order to keep the community informed about County accomplishments; advises departments in their media and community relations efforts; advocates County activities and services to the community; and performs related duties as required. This is a single-position classification located in the Office of the County Administrator.

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: The Project Manager, Community Relations is a top-level, strategic position responsible for planning, coordinating, and disseminating a professional media and community relations strategy, and for ensuring that all appropriate constituencies are adequately informed of community benefits provided by the County. The Project Manager, Community Relations conducts in-depth media and public opinion analyses, makes policy recommendations, advises County executives of emerging trends, and plans strategic responses to potentially adverse media coverage or public opinion.

The Project Manager, Community Affairs is distinguished from the Public Information Specialist by the fact that the former serves as an expert member of high-level project teams responsible for implementing key County polices and responding to issues such as regionalism and solid waste management, and provides such teams with a community relations perspective, and expertise on developing and implementing appropriate strategies. In addition, the Project Manager, Community Relations serves as a key member of the County Administrator's senior staff with respect to strategic planning, policy development, and management of external communications with the media, key constituents, and the community at large. The Public Information Specialist is responsible for the public information function of a single County department.

EXAMPLES OF DUTIES:

1. Plans, coordinates, and disseminates accurate, timely, and credible information to internal and external constituencies; develops and implements communication strategies for key issues and initiatives of the County and the Board of Supervisors.
2. Anticipates, alerts and advises the County Administrator and executives of implications of policies, developments, and current events on community perceptions of the County, and makes recommendations on appropriate communication strategies; participates in meetings of the Board of Supervisors and other key decision-making groups; and presents information, proposals, and recommendations as appropriate.
3. Develops and implements a proactive community and media relations strategy in order to ensure that County messages and images are appropriately conveyed to the public; establishes and maintains diplomatic relations with County management, elected officials, department directors, community organizations, and the media in order to act as point of contact for questions concerning county issues and community impact; monitors and analyzes media coverage of the County, and analyzes emerging trends in public opinion in order to anticipate issue areas or potentially negative media coverage and community perception, and design appropriate responses.
4. Designs and coordinates professional community events, presentations, and conferences involving policy-makers from various agencies; plans, coordinates, and implements community information strategies to ensure that the public is informed of community benefits provided by the County; organizes media conferences and interviews; represents the County to the media, key constituents, community organizations, and the community at large; and coordinates media and community relations issues that cross departmental lines in order to create a consistent County response and image.
5. Prepares news releases for distribution to media on subjects that are sensitive or complex; works with limited supervision and makes decisions involving the release and format of sensitive, strategic, and confidential information.
6. Upon request, advises department directors and public information officers on emerging community issues in order to assist departments in responding effectively; coaches County executives in media and community relations skills.
7. Establishes high standards of excellence, honesty, integrity and professionalism in community relations.

EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS:

1. Possession of a bachelor's degree in communications, business or public administration, journalism, advertising, marketing, or related field and 5 years of experience in media and/or public affairs that includes developing media strategies, collaborating with senior-level corporate or agency representatives on issues of a sensitive nature, and working with diverse competing interests on issues with the potential for significant organization-wide impact; or,
2. a combination of training, education, and experience that is equivalent to the employment standard listed above and that provides the required knowledge and abilities.

The Project Manager requires the experience, sensitivity, and confidence to represent the County, as well as the creative talent and practical skill to manage large and complex issues through diverse and competing interests.

Knowledge of: principles and practices of public relations and mass communication; basic knowledge of local government; techniques and methods of planning and implementing a public information program for a large agency; media relations and protocols; marketing techniques and practices; public opinion research techniques, methods, and tools; group and team dynamics including team leadership practices; standard English grammar and usage; standard computer applications used in government.

Ability to: interact with senior-level executives; develop comprehensive communication strategies; prepare executive level reports and correspondence; advise County executives on potential community reaction to County policies and activities; maintain tact under stress; use tact, persuasion, influence, discretion, political acumen, and independent judgement in representing the County to public agencies, community organizations, and the media; interpret complex policies and issues into terms that can easily be understood by key constituencies of the County; work diplomatically with competing interests; apply problem solving and process improvement techniques; coordinate the efforts of others over whom one has no direct authority; conduct research; participate in and lead cross-functional project teams, plan community events and forums; produce professional written, visual, and oral presentations; write a variety of documents including media releases; maintain confidentiality of information; keep abreast of emerging issues which impact the County; meet critical deadlines.

Evidence of: Past track record of being able to work on teams and independently with minimal supervision; work long hours, deliver a product on time, on budget and with sensitivity to the subject matter; extensive initiative, creativity and independent judgment; collaboration on complex issues, and strong pro-active leadership experience.

Highly desirable qualifications: broad strategic experience developing and coordinating community and media relations in a public agency; exceptional communication skills; strong conceptual, analytical, leadership, and project management skills; ability to collaborate with diverse and competing interests; working knowledge of local and state government; knowledge of political, economic, and social issues in Santa Barbara County; a master's degree in a related field; ability to speak Spanish fluently.

 



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