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 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 External Relations (ER) unit is comprised of four complementary functions: Private fundraising, Mobilization & Marketing, Policy & Advocacy and Operations & Analytics. To enable IRC to deliver our Strategy100 commitments, the ER unit established a bold new approach that enhances our ability to raise diverse and flexible funding aligned with IRC’s top priorities, while raising our profile and influence. The ER unit is international, with colleagues in more than 10 offices globally.
The Purpose of the Role
Reporting to the Director of Communications UK, the Senior Communications Manager will increase the profile of the IRC in the UK by developing and executing communications strategies positioning the IRC as the thought and practice leader of the humanitarian sector, and showcasing our programming solutions work around the world.
The Senior Communications Manager will act as a key press contact and media liaison as well as generating effective media coverage as a vtal part of IRC’s strategy to build its supporter and donor base, particularly within Europe.
The post holder will lead on a key portfolio of IRC UK issues and solutions. In this role you will partner with the Policy and Advocacy team, Fundraising and UK programme colleagues to develop key messaging and cut-through external products regarding UK aid and humanitarian/development issues and debates. S/he will shape strategic policy narratives and generate top tier IRC media coverage and visibility to key audiences. He / she will also have responsibility for media coverage reporting, and preparing information about performance for internal dissemination and board reports.
The Senior Communications Manager will support the Director of Communications UK in protecting the reputation of the organisation by using their expert judgement to help enact strategies to minimise the risk of negative coverage and well as ensure media outputs protect beneficiaries, staff and programming from harm. The Senior Communications Manager will also work with the Senior Digital Officer to ensure that we are coordinated across our media and digital output.
Scope and Authority
● Has the authority to brief journalists with agreed messaging, act as spokesperson for the organisation where appropriate, as well as actively pursue media opportunities.
● The Senior Communications Manager will line manage Communications Officers, and/or intern positions when required.
Responsibility for Resources:
● Oversee key messaging documents and key media material (PR, Op-eds, etc.
● Oversee media monitoring tools to accurately reflect coverage and impact.
● Maintain and contribute to media databases /contacts lists for the UK.
Key Working Relationships
● Reports to Director of Communications UK.
● Works closely with communications colleagues in the UK, US and in the IRC’s Europe offices, including counterparts in partner organisation.
● Works closely with Policy & Advocacy, and Fundraising/ Awards Management Unit/ UK Programme colleagues in the UK, US and Europe offices.
● Works closely with Global Crisis & Response Communications to engage country directors, country programme staff and technical unit colleagues.
● Works closely with counterparts in NGOs and donor organisations, particularly FCDO.
● Works closely with UK digital and entertainment relations colleagues for co-ordination of communications activity
Generating and maintain strategic IRC UK messaging and planning
● Work alongside global communications colleagues, Policy & Advocacy colleagues and UK Fundraisers to develop appropriate messaging on key proactive and reactive issue areas across the scope of IRC’s work.
● Collaborate with Digital colleagues to ensure pro/reactive message accuracy and cut through calls to action that engage audiences for proactive campaigns and news cycle opportunities.
● Feed into the development of the UK communications strategy and ensure media plans contribute to its goals
● Ensure that the UK media team contributes to other team’s business objectives, leading to the inclusion of UK advocacy, policy, AMU and fundraising asks in the strategic comms plan and in the UK media material produced.
● Work with digital and UK entertainment relations colleagues for co-ordination of communications activities
● Pro-actively promote the IRC’s work, with particular focus on UK top-tier, regional and local outlets and in accordance with the UK Communications team’s strategy and objectives.
● Develop communications plans, collaborate on cut-through policy/research products, write, review, edit and manage team to disseminate press releases, statements, op eds and briefings in conjunction with country staff and policy and advocacy colleagues.
● Lead on supporting and preparing spokespeople, board members, luminaries and other representatives for media interviews and programme visits across the organisation.
● Contribute to the development of content for distribution on IRC channels, and work closely with the wider communications team to ensure to successful development of topical and engaging outputs to showcase the IRC’s global work to UK audiences.
● Respond to journalist enquiries in a timely manner to meet external deadlines; provide background information, arrange interviews and facilitate visits as required.
● Build expertise on current and potential issues in the humanitarian NGO arena through research and monitoring of national media, and competitors and in liaison with US colleagues.
● Be flexible as to working hours, in particular when unforeseen circumstances arise which require speedy responsiveness to media enquiries.
● Provide surge support to global media team in emergencies.
● Willingness to travel, often at short notice.
Team Management / Stakeholder engagement
● Ensure colleagues across departments are successfully alerted to important news coverage, news alerts and opportunities.
● Manage the Communications Officers
● Manage any interns when required.
● Ensure the media monitoring system is accurately reporting coverage and media contacts lists are up to date.
External Relationship development
● Identify and build relationships with key journalists and media outlets in UK covering issues relevant to the IRC, across print, broadcast, online and social media.
● Represent IRC externally and build close relationships with press counterparts within partner organisations, other NGOs and statutory donors that lead to opportunities to promote IRC in the media and among target audiences.
● Explore opportunities for media partnerships that can raise the profile of the IRC in target the UK. –
● Experience as a journalist or media professional.
● Strong professional experience in communications, international affairs or related field.
● Experience / knowledge of developing and implementing PR / Media strategies with an international, ideally humanitarian, or development focus.
● Experience / knowledge of online and other tools for monitoring media coverage.
Skills and knowledge
● Creative thinker who can identify opportunities and collaborate internally to produce external products that cut through into media and meet strategic IRC UK objectives.
● Good contacts with key UK journalists and media outlets, and knowledge and ability to develop relationships quickly.
● Excellent writing, editing and proofreading skills; adept at writing clean, engaging, jargon-free copy for a range of channels.
● Strong communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to establish positive working relationships with colleagues in the EU and overseas.
● Good organisational and time management skills and the ability to work to deadlines, prioritise and multi-task in a fast paced environment.
● Proactive approach to problem solving to meet journalist and organisational demands.
● Knowledge of key debates in the UK and Europe around international development, aid and refugee issues.
● Experience of dealing with media enquiries into crisis or sensitive issues.
● Experience of organising international media visits to projects in order to facilitate reporting on key issues.
● Experience of conducting media relations and communications opportunities in developing countries and sensitive contexts.
● Experience of acting as a spokesperson for an organisation.
● Experience working with digital teams and across digital campaigns.