University seeks new chief PR flack

As documented in this Eugene Weekly report on the demise of the Register Guard, there is now no regular reporter with a higher ed or UO beat left in the state. Diane Dietz was the last. The Daily Emerald does a great job, but has trouble scraping up the money to pay Kevin Reed’s public records fees. The Oregonian is focused on Portland public schools.

The journalists are being replaced with an army of PR flacks, paid for with public money but answerable only to university administrators, and not bound by journalistic codes of ethics – you know, things like presenting both sides of a story.

UO has now posted an ad for a replacement for former spokesperson Tobin Klinger, who explained his job here, in an ill-considered letter to the editor of the RG, complaining about their coverage of the Bowl of Dicks lawsuit:

Eugene is access to independent film, unique foods, outdoor activities, cultural happenings and community pride.

I don’t know that this shines through on the pages of The Register-Guard, particularly with the sophomoric “reporting” of Diane Dietz.

I admit to having a bias. Dietz covers my employer, the University of Oregon. In my role as head of UO public affairs communications, it is my job to defend the integrity and the reputation of the university. I advocate for faculty, staff, students, administration and athletics. I advocate for the Ducks.

The official job description is less pithy:

Director of Public Affairs and Issues Management

Apply now Job no: 523381
Work type: Officer of Administration
Location: Eugene, OR
Categories: Communications/Public Relations/Marketing

Department: University Communications
Appointment Type and Duration: Regular, Ongoing
Salary: $98,821 – $115,000 per year
Compensation Band: OS-OA11-Fiscal Year 2018-2019
FTE: 1.0

Application Review Begins
January 31, 2019; position open until filled

Special Instructions to Applicants
Complete online applications must include:
1) A cover letter describing how you meet the minimum qualifications, professional competencies, and, if applicable, preferred qualifications
2) Resume/CV
3) Three professional references
4) Answers to the following 2 supplemental questions (Please limit the response to 300-500 words per question):
• What is your approach to issues management?
• What is your philosophy on brand journalism?

Department Summary
The department of University Communications is charged with telling the University of Oregon’s (UO) stories to a broad range of audiences and positioning the University to succeed and thrive. The department utilizes and manages a comprehensive suite of communications tools, including public relations, branding, storytelling, advertising, licensing, digital media, and more for the benefit of the University.

Position Summary
The Director of Public Affairs and Issues Management serves as the primary University spokesperson and is responsible for leading media relations, public affairs communications, issues management, and digital news operations. This is a fast-paced, high-profile position that manages daily internal and external communication needs as well as develops and executes long-term strategic communications objectives. This position must combine an understanding of strategic public communications and brand journalism with public policy, higher education policy, and government and community affairs.

The Director will work closely with the UO’s administrative units, government affairs offices at the federal, state and local levels, athletics, public safety, and schools/colleges to effectively communicate the UO’s position on public and university policy issues and respond to inquiries from public officials and their constituents and other stakeholders. This position will also work closely with the UO’s academic and administrative leadership to implement the UO’s internal and external communication objectives, proactively communicate the University’s position on a variety of topics and aggressively advocate on behalf of the UO with media and stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, alumni, community leaders, lawmakers and the general public.

The Director will work closely with the Vice President and other members of the University Communications leadership team to create a progressive, unified, creative, metrics-driven organization dedicated to serving the UO’s interests, including those of the students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and other stakeholders. The Director will demonstrate and inspire a team-building work environment, motivating staff and cultivating productive relationships across campus to innovate, collaborate, and reach or exceed identified goals.

The Director reports directly to the Vice President for University Communications and supervises a group of classified, unclassified, and student staff.

Flexibility, excellence, and passion are vital qualities within University Communications. Inclusion, collaboration and cultural sensitivity are valued competencies, and this position must effectively interact with a dynamic population of internal and external partners at a high level of integrity. We are looking for someone who shares our values and who will support the mission of the University. This position plays a central role in achieving UO’s goal of ensuring effective engagement with the University’s many core constituents and helping UO retain and improve on its position as an innovative and leading public research university.

Minimum Requirements
• Bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications, public relations or similar field.
• Ten years of experience working in communications and/or public policy, which must have included experience as an institutional spokesperson and managing issues and crisis communications.
• Five years of management experience.
• Five years of writing and/or editing for media and/or public relations communications.

Professional Competencies
• Demonstrated ability to assimilate complicated information and speak, write, and edit for a variety of audiences, media, and contexts.
• Demonstrated ability to create strategic communication plans and strategies.
• Demonstrated ability to work in a complex organization, manage people, and work effectively with a wide variety of people across multiple units and agencies to develop strategies to achieve operating goals.
• Ability to demonstrate tact and diplomacy, and the ability to manage confidential or sensitive information and issues responsibly.
• Commitment to and experience with promoting and enhancing diversity and equity, and working with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Preferred Qualifications
• Advanced degree in journalism, communications, or public relations.
• Higher education communication experience.

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One Response to University seeks new chief PR flack

  1. Deplorable Duck says:

    I share your lament. With due respect to _The Daily Emerald_, it seems rather anemic compared to the college paper where I went to school. Given that we apparently have a Journalism department, it seems like there ought to be 20 or 30 people filing seriously reported stuff.

    But considering that the NYT and WashPo are now regularly publishing (later) falsified pieces, it’s hard to blame them specifically. Still, I wonder–what are the J students doing with their youthful time, energy, and (I hope) optimism?

    As for PR flacking, it apparently pays better than my modest role. But given the lickspittling involved, it ought to.

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