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Director of Strategic Communications & Public Relations

American Physical Society
Working from home (Remote)
$147,600 - $202,950
Date posted
Apr 19, 2024

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Director of Strategic Communications & Public Relations

The American Physical Society (APS) is a nonprofit membership organization devoted to advancing and diffusing the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals and scientific meetings, as well as its education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents 50,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world.

Position Summary:

The Director of Strategic Communications and Public Relations, reporting to the Chief Experience and Engagement Officer (CXO), spearheads APS's strategic communication, media, public relations, and crisis response endeavors. This entails developing and executing impactful strategies in line with APS’s objectives, leading integrated communication, public relations, and brand initiatives, and ensuring messaging resonates with members while adhering to APS's core values. Collaborating closely with Marketing and Brand leaders, the director ensures consistency across strategies. Moreover, they oversee media interactions, forge partnerships, and navigate crisis communications, all while managing the departmental budget and actively contributing to APS’s managerial cohort. Beyond these responsibilities, the role extends to coordinating crisis management efforts, conducting simulations, and refining crisis plans. This multifaceted role also encompasses team leadership, performance evaluation, and cultivating a culture of continual improvement within the department.

APS has a “remote first” concept that promotes equal treatment and equal access within the United States, independent of physical work location, with a majority of staff working primarily from home. APS values diversity and welcomes candidates from a variety of backgrounds.  APS offers a dynamic work environment with an outstanding total compensation package, including salary, outstanding benefits, and excellent paid time off.

Key Responsibilities:

Strategic Communications & Public Relations:


  • Lead development and execution of integrated communications, public relations, and brand strategies aligned with APS’s goals, mission vision and values.


    Promote APS’s social media and public relations presence, ensuring impactful messaging that enhances engagement.


    Collaborate with the Director of Marketing and Head of Brand to create and maintain alignment across communication, brand, and marketing strategies.


    Manage the creation and editing of various communication materials, including press releases, editorials, white papers, annual reports, magazine features, e-newsletters, and event materials, for consistency and quality.


    Collaborate with APS Board Members and Executives to develop strategies, PR/media programs, and presentations.


    Collaborate with outside agency partners as necessary.


    Drive awareness of news and issues impacting the APS community, ensuring accurate representation of the organization's views.


    Coordinate media responses and outreach efforts, including press releases.


    Develop and maintain partnerships with media outlets to increase coverage of APS programs.


    Collaborate with the Executive Office, Human Resources, and other departments as needed to develop corporate strategies and communications.


    Oversee the creation of various communication materials, ensuring excellence and consistency.


    Serve as an active member of APS’s core management team, assisting with internal and external communications as needed.


    Coach on message alignment and consistency, serve as spokesperson, manage requests for comment or appearance,


    Draft messages in the appropriate voice, train new spokespersons, and offer as-needed message preparation and practice.


    Leverage key performance data insights on corporate communications.


    Develop and manage the annual department budget in partnership with CXO. 


Reputation Management:

  • Coordinate crisis management team activities and serve as a strategic advisor to senior leadership.


    Socialize and update crisis management plans, develop training training and on-going education.


    Conduct crisis simulation exercises and engage in scenario planning for potential crises.


    Assist in repairing vulnerabilities across the business.


    Provide updates to senior management on crisis readiness issues encountered.


    Ensure appropriate crisis planning and support for events and meetings.


    Coordinate with legal and insurance teams as necessary.


    Collaborate with IT and legal teams on data protection and privacy efforts, ensuring compliance with regulations.


    Implement continuous evaluation and improvement mechanisms for crisis strategies.


    Lead after-action reviews and foster a culture of crisis preparedness.


    Coordinate with internal communication and HR teams to ensure efficient information flow during crises.


    Ensure crisis management practices comply with regulations as needed.


    Monitor media coverage to inform crisis response strategies.


    Oversee the use of digital communication tools and ensure readiness of digital platforms for high-traffic scenarios.


    Assist in planning for crisis-related SEO efforts and strategic ad campaigns.


    Work with social media leads to addressing or escalating online items as needed.


    Monitor emerging trends in crisis management.


    Conduct regular risk assessments and update crisis management policies to align with industry standards and best practices.


    Collaborate closely with PR/marketing teams to manage and protect reputation.


    Develop strategies for community engagement and support during crises.


    Collaborate with relevant departments, such as HR, for responses to criticism, both online and offline.


    Coordinate with internal comms and HR teams to ensure internal communication. channels allow efficient information flow during crisis.


    Assist corporate communications teams in scenario planning for high-risk situations, devising messaging strategies to address potential reputation challenges to APS.


    Serve as a rapid response stakeholder, collaborating with management to articulate and advocate for action plans, and proactively prepare for potential issues.


Team Management:

  • Lead a team managing strategic communications and risk management for APS.


    Motivate and guide talented staff, streamline internal systems, and prioritize strategic objectives.


    Operationalize communication strategies to engage APS's key audiences (stakeholders including members, future members, policymakers, media, and the public).


    Establish performance management based on KPIs, assess staff (strengths and areas for growth), and foster development.


    Promote a culture of continuous improvement and leadership development, providing training and opportunities for growth.


Scope & Relationships:


  • Internal relationships with the Executive Office (including support staff, CFOO, CEO, CHRO, and SLT), APS Directors in other departments and Human Resource Team. 


    Relationships with external constituents (e.g. APS committees, other professional societies, unit leaders, APS members, APS Board and Council leadership).


    The position oversees two direct reports, namely the Editor of APS News and the Head of Strategic Communications, with the opportunity to recruit for additional roles in collaboration with the CXO, managing an overall team of six individuals.
  • Member of the Core Management Team (CMT) which include collaborating with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to inform organizational goals and strategies, developing cross-organizational objectives and tactics, proposing metrics for measuring success, executing agreed-upon strategies, facilitating communication and collaboration across departments, and fostering a respectful and inclusive workplace culture.



  • Bachelor’s degree in communications and risk management or related discipline. Advanced graduate degree or and/or MBA is preferred. Directly applicable experience may be accepted in lieu of a degree.


  • Minimum of 10 years’ experience in communication and risk management leadership.
  • Minimum of 8 years’ experience in staff management. 


Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:


  • Demonstrated success leading Public Relations and strategic communication teams for complex organizations


    Demonstrated success and previous experience leading organizational reputation management communications, including developing crisis management plans and proactively identifying and responding to issues. 


    Demonstrated success in change leadership, coaching and developing leaders and teams, tracking performance via KPIs and other success metrics. 


    Demonstrated success in matrix style leadership, with project managment experience in RACI matrix and SMART goal-setting. 


    Demonstrated success in overseeing social media campaigns and strategy with successful outcomes like increased sales, brand awareness and web traffic. 


    Proven success with internal clients to support HR and Executive Office communication strategies


    Proven track record of creation of content to drive customer engagement and generate leads


    Proven success in financial stewardship, optimizing teams and strategy-led teams 


    Proven success in engaging stakeholders, c-suite, and board leadership.


    Proactive in identifying and addressing strategic communication needs, exercising judgment.


    Strong interpersonal, written, and oral communication skills.


    Excellent organizational skills, adept at managing multiple complex projects and meeting deadlines.


    Proficient in standard office software (Google Workspace, Microsoft Suite).


    Proficient in standard project management tools software (Asana).


    Proficient in mention monitoring, social media management tools (sprout social preferred). 


    Customer service orientation with conflict resolution and empathy skills.


    Collaborative team player with willingness to travel.


    Ability to influence and manage effectively across the organization.


    Deep understanding of communication issues.


    Proficient in basic supervisory principles including conflict resolution and resource allocation.


    Detail-oriented, adaptable, and able to work independently or with interdepartmental teams.



  • The Director of Strategic Communications and Public Relations is a remote-first role, primarily based from home within the United States, with significant travel, up to 30%, required for visiting client sites, attending public relation, media and marketing events, occasional in-person consulting, and public relations and media coordination at events, and participating in conferences, meetings, training, and strategy sessions at various locations including APS offices in Hauppauge, NY, College Park, MD, and the Washington DC metro area.


  • The salary range for this position takes into account various factors influencing compensation decisions, such as skill sets, experience, training, and other business and organizational requirements. The salary listed within the specified ranges considers relevant experience. Our compensation philosophy at APS aims to maintain salaries at the midpoint of the market. As a result, we typically hire within the target starting range. Exceptional, rare cases may merit reviews above target starting range for specialized or niche skills aligned with strategic operational goals.


  • Hiring Range: $147,600/year - $202,950/year (USD)
  • Target Starting Range: $147,600/year - $166,050/year (USD)

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