The United States Program (USP) of Human Rights Watch (HRW) is seeking applicants for the position of Communications Strategist to design communications strategies that help to advance rights and further justice in the US. The Communications Strategist will have substantive expertise in USP issue areas, especially racial justice and democracy, and a vision for how to advance rights respecting policy connected to these issue areas in US media markets, including print, broadcast, and digital.
HRW is an independent non-governmental organization with more than 600 staff in 50 countries that works to advance human rights worldwide. The US Program (USP) works to secure and advance the fundamental human rights and dignity of every person subject to the authority of the US government. It investigates and exposes systematic human rights violations committed by US federal, state, and local governments, with the aim of ensuring racial equity across issue areas but with a particular focus on immigration and border rights, the criminal legal system, democracy research and advocacy, and achieving racial justice in the United States. The US Program seeks to build strong relationships, partnerships, and leadership with and among the most impacted people and grassroots organizations to jointly identify and implement research, investigations, campaigns, and strategic communications projects that build power and result in narrative and policy change to improve the human rights of all people.
The Communications Strategist may be based in any of HRW’s US offices (Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, or Washington D.C.) and reports to the USP Senior Communications Strategist. This is a fixed-term, full-time position for 18-months with an anticipated start date in July 2023.
The successful candidate may have the option to work remotely. We aim to be as flexible and supportive as possible in both the recruitment and onboarding of this position.
1. Engage in thoughtful and creative collaboration with the USP Senior Communications Strategist, researchers and advocates to design communications strategies that help to achieve our goals;
2. Attend key coalition meetings to ensure that USP’s democracy work and messaging is movement-generous and aligned;
3. Ensure that reporters covering issues that are of concern to the US Program‘s democracy work know about relevant USP experts, USP or partner research, understand USP supported recommendations, and develop stories that include perspectives furthering USP and partner aligned policy objectives;
4. Work with researchers and advocates to develop outreach and dissemination plans to promote USP’s work on democracy; get recommendations implemented; and achieve other advocacy objectives, including the launch of key products and initiatives, as well as designing narrative change or opposing negative messaging, associated with ongoing democracy projects;
5. Determine the best media outlets for communications initiatives connected to USP democracy work; develop methods for getting coverage in those media outlets; facilitate contacts and connections with those outlets; and consistently pitch USP democracy work and experts to those outlets;
6. Identify the most effective messengers for USP democracy work, whether that be USP experts, or partners, influencers, or other outside validators; help cultivate relationships with outside messengers in ways that help promote USP priorities in media outlets;
7. Brainstorm, design, facilitate, write and edit strong and persuasive talking points; op-eds; press releases, statements, quotes, tweets and other USP media, including multimedia and social media, products as well as work with partners to develop content, when needed and capacity allows;
8. Guide and edit as necessary on all other media-focused products to help ensure they contain clear and persuasive messaging and that they are reaching the right targets;
9. Develop content about USP democracy work for HRW’s social media platforms – such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok;
10. Promote USP democracy work within the organization, this includes monitoring posts by researchers and advocates and helping to ensure HRW’s main accounts on these platforms are picking up and promoting USP social media content;
11. Liaise with colleagues from the Communications Division about US Program work;
12. Cultivate partners and participate in national and other voting rights coalitions and contribute communications support on behalf of USP;
13. Travel domestically and internationally, as required for internal meetings, research missions and advocacy opportunities; and
14. Perform other tasks as required.
Given the US Program’s substantive work focus and theory of change, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, as well as people impacted by the criminal legal and/or immigration systems are encouraged to apply. Candidates who are traditionally underrepresented in the human rights sector are enthusiastically encouraged to apply if they feel they have the ability to succeed in this role, even if they do not have all of the skills and qualifications listed.
Education: A bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or another relevant field or equivalent training is required. An advanced degree is desirable.
Experience: A minimum of five (5) years of strategic communications, narrative change, journalism and/or editing experience and a deep knowledge and understanding of the US national and regional media landscape are required. Experience in journalism or public relations, preferably both, with some substantive expertise in the following issue areas- racial justice, immigration, the criminal legal system and/or democracy- is desirable.
Related Skills and Knowledge:
1. Demonstrated motivation by a demand for justice, and that excellent human rights research is a natural ally to journalism is required.
2. Ability to recognize the importance of ensuring US Program democracy messaging is reflected in traditional mainstream media and the ability to foster new opportunities in other media outlets and markets is required.
3. Ability to translate complex issues into pithy, succinct, accessible pitches and the ability to develop messaging that resonates with target audiences is required.
4. Ability to develop a regular practice of using accessible pitches and target audience messaging to generate coverage in media outlets is required.
5. Ability to plan longer-term projects and generate real-time responses to developing news in an environment that demands both rigor and relevance is required.
6. Experience in strategic development and execution, advocacy, and campaigning skills and experience is required.
7. Knowledge of racial justice, social justice and civil and human rights issues in the United States, and ability to identify and evaluate trends and needs is required.
8. Strong interpersonal skills and initiative in order to work collaboratively within USP and HRW and with external partners, in teams as well as independently is required.
Other: Applicants must possess valid US work authorization. Human Rights Watch is not able to sponsor work authorization for this role.
Salary and Benefits: HRW seeks exceptional applicants and offers competitive compensation and employer-paid benefits. This position is based in the United States and the salary range would be USD 77,000-85,000. Salary ranges outside of the United States vary based on location.
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