Communications Director, IRC UK

International Rescue Committee

BACKGROUND
Over the past 90 years, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has developed unparalleled expertise in responding to emergencies and helping uprooted communities to rebuild. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the IRC offers lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster. The IRC is on the ground in more than 40 countries, providing emergency relief, relocating refugees and rebuilding lives in the wake of disaster.

The IRC is committed to a culture of bold leadership, innovation in all aspects of our work, creative partnerships and, most crucially, accountability to those we serve. The IRC is a tireless advocate for the most vulnerable.

IRC UK
IRC UK is part of the IRC global network, which has its global headquarters in New York. Our team in the UK works to raise profile, deliver policy and practice change, and increase funding to help restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Since 2021, IRC UK has also provided integration services directly to refugees in England, a programme that is rapidly growing.

In Europe, the IRC also has offices in Berlin, Bonn, Brussels, Geneva and Stockholm.

The Purpose of the Role

As Director of Communications, UK, you lead IRC UK’s core communications strategy with the objectives of growing our profile, influencing policy, driving income, and protecting our reputation. This is done by taking a strategic approach to generating effective messaging for cross-team use, creatively collaborating to produce cut-through external products, and generating top tier media coverage in collaboration with communications, advocacy and fundraising colleagues globally. In this role you will be expected to use expert judgement to manage IRC UK’s reputation, as well as ensure media outputs protect beneficiaries, staff and programming from harm.

Scope and Authority

Authority:

  • The role manages the UK comms operational budget
  • The role holder sets strategic direction for UK communications across media & PR, digital engagement, institutional donor communications and celebrity relations
  • The role manages: Senior Communications Manager, Senior Digital Engagement Manager, Communications & Partnerships Manager and Celebrity Engagement Manager
  • The role holder has authority to act as a spokesperson, brief journalists with agreed IRC messaging
  • The role holder is a key member of the UK Senior Management Team, with collective responsibility for the leadership, culture and efficacy of IRC UK
  • The role holder is a member of the Global Public Affairs & Communications Team, ensuring the elevation of the UK’s voice.

Key Working Relationships

  • Reports to the UK Executive Director and Senior Director Global Public Affairs & Global Communications
  • Close collaboration with External Relations staff in the UK, US and globally, including Digital Engagement, Creative Studio, Fundraising and Policy & Advocacy
  • Works closely with key country directors, country programme staff and technical unit colleagues
  • Supports policy and thought leadership staff in the IRC President’s Office on key UK and global messages and policy initiatives involving the IRC President and IRC Senior Leadership.

KEY ACCOUNTABILITIES

Communications Strategy

  • Develop and execute the IRC UK’s communications strategy to support the delivery of the UK strategic plan
  • Drive creative insights and strategic thinking within the UK comms team and influence / maximise advocacy and fundraising outputs and results
  • Partner with global external relations leadership to set key performance indicators for achieving the strategy, and drive and monitor progress towards them
  • Manage line reports, setting objectives, portfolio scope, and partnering on professional development opportunities
  • Ensure the UK Communications Team are clear on systems, processes and organisation to drive efficiency and team productivity
  • Review team performance quarterly and present on results to global stakeholders
  • As a member of the UK Senior Management Team support the UK Executive Director in the creation and delivery of IRC UK strategies and priorities, foster cohesion and collaboration among UK based departments, representing the needs and objectives of the team in the UK Senior Management Team and UK office.

Driving IRC profile, influence and income; and protecting the reputation of IRC

  • Ensure the rapid development and maintenance of key strategic IRC UK messaging that underpins reactive, proactive communications tactics in line with advocacy and fundraising objectives
  • Plan and identify key moments of opportunity for IRC UK Communications according to internal and external landscape and timetables
  • Develop, commission and drive creative cut-through tactics and products to increase brand awareness of IRC UK
  • Lead team to secure top tier media coverage of IRC’s work, solutions and innovation, balancing mentions with long-form/features and profiles
  • Build relationships with key journalists and editors to help drive media coverage.
  • Oversee strategic media opportunities by commissioning, writing, editing and disseminating messaging for multi-channel use
  • Work with global communications colleagues and country office staff to create strong, persuasive and impactful outputs across media and digital channels, and to arrange media content gathering visits to frontline work.
  • Oversee the development and delivery of digital engagement tactics and products across IRC UK digital platforms.
  • Act as a spokesperson for the organisation in the media as needed.
  • Liaise closely with Fundraising teams to collaborate on digital content and media coverage and therefore donations to the IRC during emergencies and other fundraising appeals.
  • Manage the Communications component of IRC UK’s relationship with the DEC and lead communications on DEC appeals
  • Use expert judgment to ensure the IRC is protected across communications channels and to develop and enact strategies to protect IRC’s reputation
  • Leverage IRC’s President and CEO, and UK Executive Director to grow our profile in the UK
  • Support, prepare and coach staff, spokespeople and board members for media interviews and visits; and provide guidance across the organisation to dealing media.
  • Build expertise on current and potential issues in the humanitarian NGO arena via research and monitoring of national media and competitors and in liaison with global colleagues.
  • Work with the global external relations colleagues to ensure that IRC has a system for managing media and digital enquiries and issues at all times, as needed.
  • Responsible for reporting to the IRC-UK’s board, subcommittees and Executive Director on communications activity, trends and upcoming opportunities.

PERSON SPECIFICATION

Essential

Experience

  • Track record in creating, driving and evaluating communications strategy with a focus on earned media
  • Experience managing a team with national scope
  • Experience navigating and influencing within large matrixed organisations
  • Extensive experience of developing key messages and implementing media strategies with an international, and ideally humanitarian, or development focus
  • Substantial experience of working in a press role, securing media coverage and responding to reputational threats.
  • Experience working with digital communications colleagues
  • Experience/knowledge of tools for monitoring media coverage
  • Experience of dealing with media enquiries into crisis and sensitive issues
  • Experience of acting as a spokesperson for an organisation.

Skills and Knowledge

  • Creative problem solver, independent thinker and self-starter
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills: ability to communicate effectively with colleagues both in the UK and overseas and manage working relationships diplomatically
  • Strong network of key national and international media
  • Excellent eye to detail and commitment to high speed and high-quality writing and editing
  • Strong organisational and time management skills: ability to prioritise team’s work, and multi-task in a fast-paced work setting
  • Ability to represent IRC-UK and the wider IRC professionally and appropriately at all times
  • Knowledge/interest in international affairs, particularly of conflict and humanitarian crises and issues
  • Knowledge of key political debates in the UK around international development and aid
  • Flexibility as regards working hours, as the need arises
  • Willingness to travel occasionally to conflict areas
  • Fluency in English, spoken and written.

How to apply

Please apply through our website


Deadline: 19 Jan 2025