Public Affairs Officer, Columbia University
Full Time, New York
Reporting to the Associate Vice President for Public Affairs, public affairs officers work closely with reporters, editors, and producers to promote Columbia’s academic initiatives, research breakthroughs, intellectual expertise, breaking news, and special events. Each officer is a generalist on a variety of public affairs duties and responsibilities, but each one is assigned specific focus areas to help meet defined communications needs.
This opening is for an individual to cover the “beat” that includes the science departments (astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics), engineering, and computer science. This includes coverage of related academic departments, centers, institutes, and events.
Depending on an individual officer’s expertise and changing University needs, specific topics and assignments within a beat are subject to change. This officer will work in close collaboration with the Director of Communications for Science, Technology, and Entrepreneurship.
- The public affairs officer pitches news, interview opportunities, and
upcoming events directly to reporters and editors. He/she writes news
releases and advisories for local, national, and international media.
- The officer establishes and nurtures effective working relationships
with local, national, and international journalists from print,
broadcast, online, community, ethnic, and social media.
- He/she serves as a front-line news media contact, fields incoming media
requests, and facilitates and staffs interviews with faculty. He/she
also coordinates and staffs on-campus videography and photography by
news outlets and by in-house teams.
- Particular emphasis is placed on developing media relations initiatives
on behalf of Columbia’s schools, centers, departments, and programs
consistent with the University’s umbrella messages. He/she works
directly with faculty, administrators, and deans with the goal of
achieving measurable media results.
- As part of the public affairs team, the individual drafts and organizes
supporting materials such as media kits, background memos, talking
points, and Q&As. He/she develops and updates media lists and performs
related tasks as required.
- He/she collaborates with public affairs colleagues from across the
University as well as deans, department chairs, and faculty members to
proactively develop strategic long-term media relations plans.
- The incumbent attends selected University events, conducts media
check-in, and monitors media as needed. Occasionally, these events take
place in the evenings and on weekends.
- Public affairs officers often report and write articles on their beat
area for the University’s print and online news channels. Occasionally,
this also includes event coverage.
- As part of a regular rotation, each officer serves as the after-hours
and weekend contact for reporters needing emergency assistance.
Generally, this means a two-week commitment about twice a year.
- He/she works with and mentors work/study students as needed.
- The public affairs officer contributes ideas and engages with his/her
teammates in an ongoing effort to improve and strengthen the office’s
professional environment. The officer works closely with his/her
multimedia teammates across Communications and Public Affairs to
support well-coordinated outreach that enhances the University’s
A bachelor’s degree and a minimum of seven years of progressive public affairs experience are required; at least two years of experience in the production or promotion of news related to science, engineering, and technology, highly recommended. Basic computer skills (Word, e-mail, Internet use, etc.) are a must.
Successful public affairs officers are strong, fast writers with a careful attention to detail. To thrive as a public affairs officer, the individual possesses the ability to accurately translate specialized and technical jargon into lay language for general audiences. Other helpful attributes include an organized work ethic, a sense of calm under pressure, a belief in team spirit, and a healthy respect for deadlines. Successful officers have excellent phone and interpersonal skills.
Specific knowledge and experience working with the New York, national, and international news media is highly preferred. An advanced degree, experience living abroad, and foreign language abilities are welcomed.
Experience with media-related services and software—Meltwater, Vocus, Lexus Nexus, EXCEL, Photoshop—is a plus.
Minority candidates are encouraged.
Columbia University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer