Media Relations Manager (Hybrid Schedule)
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
Chevy Chase, Maryland
HHMI is focused on supporting and moving science forward in a variety of different ways ranging from conducting basic biomedical research, empowering educators, inspiring students, developing the next generation of scientists – even stretching into film and media production. Our Headquarters is in the greater Washington, DC metro area and is home to over 300 employees with expertise in investments, communications, digital production, biomedical sciences, and everything in between. The work housed here supports and augments the groundbreaking research conducted in HHMI labs across the nation. As HHMI scientists continue to push boundaries in laboratories and classrooms, you can be sure that your contributions while working here are making a difference.
The media relations manager will play a key role in developing HHMI’s profile among leading scientific and mainstream news media. They will collaborate closely with members of the Communications team to raise HHMI’s visibility strategically by identifying story ideas/themes, producing content, and developing pitches that demonstrate HHMI’s significant investment in science, our unique approach, and our impact on key areas of science and science education. The person in this role must know how to identify, shape, and pitch compelling stories about scientists, research organizations, and philanthropies that naturally align with the interests of reporters and media outlets. They think critically about the value of media and how HHMI’s mission and impact fit within the broader context of the news environment. They believe in the power of science and education to change our world. They have strong media relations skills and high technical proficiency. As part of our External Communications team, you will report to our Director, External Communications, and work in a hybrid model at our headquarters campus in Chevy Chase, MD.
In this role you will:
- Create and execute effective media strategies that contribute to well-defined visibility for HHMI. This work requires a significant level of independence as well as collaboration with staff and consultants.
- Cultivate and maintain relationships with members of the media and communications professionals in peer organizations. Understand and monitor the interests of key media outlets to effectively pitch stories about HHMI programs and priorities at the right time, to the right reporters, and with the right angle.
- Consistently perform and document core elements of outreach: collect assets, develop pitch ideas and language, perform the pitch, follow up with media, and report back to the external communications director.
- Develop and experiment with workflow strategies to ensure that news, story tips, and other types of information about HHMI’s science and science education programs are evaluated, shared, and used effectively across communications efforts.
- Collaborate closely with HHMI’s social media manager and other Communications colleagues to creatively promote HHMI’s research, connect and support community members, and celebrate scientific discovery.
- Write, or manage others who write, compelling and scientifically accurate communications materials, including media pitches, news releases, backgrounders, and op-eds.
- Create and/or manage freelance writers to create original content for websites and social media, including but not limited to news releases and program announcements. Work with Communications team members to post content on HHMI websites using a Drupal CMS and distribute news content using email software such as Mailchimp.
- Actively monitor, circulate, and evaluate relevant media coverage.
- Prepare and/or contribute to the preparation of reports, briefings, and presentations related to HHMI projects and initiatives.
- Work independently and collaboratively as part of an evolving Communications team.
Education and Experience:
- Bachelor’s degree in journalism, public relations, communications, or a similar field.
- 5-7 years of directly relevant experience in a similar position. Experience in a scientific nonprofit, major research university, or academic medical center is highly desired.
Skills and Abilities:
- Demonstrated experience and enthusiasm for independently developing and executing media relations strategies and pitching story ideas to the media.
- Outstanding interpersonal skills, including the open-mindedness and flexibility to collaborate effectively with diverse stakeholders, from senior scientists to frontline staff.
- Ability to work respectfully and strategically with all, earning trust and credibility.
- Excellent science communication skills that reflect the ability to clarify and simplify complicated issues and technical subject matter, with a versatility in tone and technique.
- Experience developing compelling digital media content, including writing and editing.
- Desire and ability to work as part of a versatile, collaborative team that emphasizes transparency, small experiments, and innovation. This includes exchanging new tools and methods with team members, mentoring, and receiving mentoring.
- The judgment, positive attitude, and decision-making skills necessary to work effectively in a complex organization.
- Strong understanding of communication channels (digital and earned media) and how to evaluate usefulness, target audiences, and appropriate messaging.
- Ability to effectively prioritize and manage multiple projects at once, while setting and meeting demanding deadlines.
- Ability to exercise independent judgment and decision-making, appropriately reflecting HHMI’s position and perspective in the science community.
- Ability to handle confidential information with discretion.
- Strong attention to detail.
- Willingness to continually experiment and learn.
- Enthusiasm for, and curiosity about, discovery science and HHMI’s mission.
Remaining in a normal seated or standing position for extended periods of time; reaching and grasping by extending hand(s) or arm(s); dexterity to manipulate objects with fingers, for example using a keyboard; communication skills using the spoken word; ability to see and hear within normal parameters; ability to move about workspace. The position requires mobility, including the ability to move materials weighing up to several pounds (such as a laptop computer or tablet).
Persons with disabilities may be able to perform the essential duties of this position with reasonable accommodation. Requests for reasonable accommodation will be evaluated on an individual basis.
This job description sets forth the job’s principal duties, responsibilities, and requirements; it should not be construed as an exhaustive statement, however. Unless they begin with the word “may,” the Essential Duties and Responsibilities described above are “essential functions” of the job, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Compensation and Benefits
Our employees are compensated from a total rewards perspective in many ways for their contributions to our mission, including competitive pay, exceptional health benefits, retirement plans, time off, and a range of recognition and wellness programs. Visit our Benefits at HHMI site to learn more.