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Director, Media Relations & Issues Management

Date: July, 2016
Reports to (Job Title): Associate Vice-Presidesnt, Communications
Jobs Reporting (Job Titles): Manager, Media Relations
Department: University Relations, Communications


Main Campus


USG 13
35 hr/wk

Primary Purpose

Reporting to the Associate Vice-President, Communications, the Director of Media Relations and Issues Management has two major roles. Firstly, to enhance the public profile of the University of Waterloo by strategically positioning the institution as a leader in academic and research excellence through proactive news and media strategies. Secondly, to manage Waterloo’s reputation and reputational risk in often fast-paced, highly-charged situations using communication strategies and tactics that encompass all of Waterloo’s primary channels and audiences.


As a leader on campus, the Director provides mentorship and guidance to senior leadership, communicators, faculty members and other staff in guiding their interactions with the media and shaping institutional strategy. The Director frequently acts as the University’s spokesperson and must ensure that the University maintains strong relationships with journalists locally, nationally and internationally.

Key Accountabilities:

Working within the broader University Communications team, the Director, Media Relations and Issues Management oversees the development, execution and evaluation of a strategic program of media activities targeting key global audiences, which includes:



The Director, Media Relations and Issues Management is accountable, working in support of Associate Vice-President, Communications and Vice-President, University Relations, for Waterloo’s emergency communications planning in order to minimize and manage risk to the University. This includes the assessment of risk and the astute evaluation of the expected media approach to inform the development and execution of tactics and messaging when dealing with crisis.


The Director, Media Relations and Issues Management directly supervises the Manager, Media Relations and is responsible for leading a wide variety of communications staff across the University in dealing with the media. This position is responsible for creating and maintaining an environment that fosters and encourages creativity, excellence, innovation and personal accountability.

Position Requirements


Bachelor’s degree in English, journalism, communications, public relations or communications-related field.



MS Word Excel PowerPoint Other
Advanced Advanced Advanced Advanced social media, intermediate web/online competence, public speaking, familiarity with photo and video editing software

Nature and Scope

Interpersonal Skills:

Internally, communicates regularly and professionally advises and consults with all senior leaders including the President, and with all employees in all groups and departments to inform, influence, educate and collaborate and to promote and build the University’s profile.  Externally, this position must maintain strong relationships with journalists locally, nationally and internationally and with stakeholders at all levels in partner organizations.

Level of Responsibility:

The position is responsible and accountable for the overall results of the media relations program against specified goals. The position will be in a leadership role in emergency, crisis and issues management situations.

Decision-Making Authority:

Responsible and accountable for establishing the priorities for media relations and addressing the changes to strategic business plans in consultation with the Associate Vice-President, Communications.

Physical and Sensory Demands:

Minimal demands typical of a position operating within an office environment.

Working Environment:

Moderate exposure to disagreeable conditions typical of a position exposed to stress and pressure associated with management-level responsibilities with significant public and campus scrutiny and potential for impact on the university's reputation. Media inquiries and issues affecting the university occur at any time. As a result, work outside the stated operating hours of the University is normal in this role.