Communications and Public Relations Director

Guilford County, NC | Full-time

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The Position

Guilford County is a high-performing local government organization that maintains a culture of embracing diversity, striving for equality, and inspiring individual and organizational excellence. Dedicated to internal and external communication strategy, the newly created Communications and Public Relations Director will oversee Guilford County's comprehensive public relations and communications strategy, working closely with County Administration to define, develop, and unify County branding, maximize media value for the County, and cultivate community engagement and high visibility for the County with a consistent voice. The new Director has the opportunity to help shape the Communications and Public Relations Department by hiring new staff and working with existing communication specialists in various departments to help improve internal and external communications and connections. This position will help the County achieve the Board of Commissioners' goals and live out the County’s core values, which include communication and transparency.

The Communications and Public Relations Director is responsible for creating and providing oversight for Guilford County’s Communications and Public Relations strategy, efficiently disseminating information on County policies and initiatives to the public and employees. Internal communications are a high priority, and the new Communications and Public Relations Director will lead the strategic plan around unifying Guilford County employees through integration and collaboration. The new Director will streamline external communication needs to support and enhance varied department goals. Communications Department activities will include writing and editing newsletters, news releases, annual reports, website and social media postings, any related event and presentation materials, as well as creating and managing community relations and public information campaigns through social media on behalf of the County and its departments. The Communications and Public Relations Director is the media relations contact, sharing information with community partners and residents, and leads the County’s communication efforts during times of crisis and emergencies.

Guilford County staff identified the following as priorities for internal and external communication needs:

Internal:

  • Celebrate department successes
  • Develop staff media relations training
  • Improve internal communication for employees
  • Spotlight and promote services and events across the department to encourage cross-departmental collaboration

External:

  • Communicate mission and vision to the public
  • Define, develop, and unify County branding
  • Build comprehensive social media strategy
  • Design messaging and materials to spotlight and promote services and events to raise awareness of county programs and encourage community participation
  • Assist departments in gathering community feedback about County services and programs
  • Raise community’s awareness of local government career options and Guilford County as one of the region’s premier employers

Priorities

  • Build strong, positive relationships with the leadership team, County departments, and community stakeholders.
  • Collaborate with stakeholders to develop a vision and long-term public relations strategy and establish annual goals and priorities that include building a team of communication and public relations specialists to support the strategic plan.
  • Partner with County departments to assess and evaluate current internal and external communication practices while strategizing about future communication needs and ways to address those needs.
  • Ensure transparent and consistent communication with the public about services and programs.
  • Enhance the County’s critical information and emergency communications programs.
  • Build a consistent County brand to help with resident engagement and economic development.

The Organization

The County operates as a Council-Manager form of government, with the Board appointing a professional County Manager to administer a variety of County functions. The County Manager's office provides professional management and leadership for the County government by directing and supervising all County offices, departments, and agencies under the general control of the Board of Commissioners. The Manager is the Chief Administrator of the County government and is appointed by the nine-member Board of Commissioners. Under the County Manager are three Assistant County Managers overseeing Successful People, Strong Community, and Quality Government service areas. Assistant County Managers are responsible for assisting the County Manager in directing operations; preparing and administering an annual budget and capital improvement program; advising the Board on fiscal and policy matters; and equitably administering the policies, laws, ordinances, and other directives and goals of the Commissioners.

The County has adopted a total budget (all funds) of $754.5 Million for FY 2021-2022. The new Communications and Public Relations Department budget is $595,000. Guilford County employs personnel in approximately 2,700 positions. The budget includes specific new investments in the Guilford County Schools and Guilford Technical Community College, public engagement and communication, data analytics, school medical services, and initiatives to address health disparities and support equitable access to services. Guilford County spends most of its generated revenue on Education, followed by Law Enforcement, Social Service, Public Health, and Emergency Services.

Core values for Guilford County are Transparency & Communication, Equity & Inclusion, Accountability, Service & Outcomes Excellence, and Our People Matter. The Board of Commissioners has identified the following high-priority focus areas for FY 2021-22 to support its mission to provide efficient, effective, and responsive government:

  • School Bonds: Implement the $300 Million bond program approved by voters in November 2020 and plan for future school bond referenda.
  • Reduce Community Disparities: Address disparities in health, infant mortality, education, income, and other areas.
  • Improve County Communications: Ensure transparent communication with the public about services and programs and build a consistent County brand to help with resident engagement and economic development.
  • Intentional Collaboration: Deepen the County’s working relationships with other cities, towns, the school system, and other community partners and collaborate on service and program improvements.
  • Staff Resources: Ensure staff have the resources they need to do their jobs and accomplish the Board’s priorities, with an emphasis on developing data metrics to better understand workloads and how those compare with peer counties.
  • School Nurses: Increase the availability of school nursing services in the Guilford County Schools.

Experience and Education

Minimum requirements include a bachelor’s degree in Communications, Journalism, or a related field and eight (8) years of progressively overseeing public relations and communications functions in a complex local government or similar public service-oriented organization, with at least three (3) of those years in a supervisory capacity.

Preferred qualifications include demonstrated experience working in a leadership role in local, state, or federal government public communications and a track record of successfully applying systems-thinking approaches and cross-sector collaborations to improve services and resident outcomes. A master’s degree in a field closely related to public relations and communications is desirable. Demonstrated experience with brand development, multi-media communication, and the ability to reach multicultural audiences is preferred. Experience building a communications team, delivering both internal and external communication services, and a commitment to transparency and public services is also preferred.

The Successful Candidate

The next Communications and Public Relations Director has demonstrated knowledge of community relations, as well as public and media relations principles and practices, paired with successful experience managing internal and external communications strategies. The successful Director has experience working in local, state, or federal government organizations and has demonstrated success working with internal departments and external partners to build diverse and inclusive relationships that advance common goals and support success for the entire community. The ideal Communications and Public Relations Director has the consultative expertise in nurturing innovation capacity and helping departments enhance their communication strategy. The new Director is politically savvy and maintains objectivity in working with elected officials.

With demonstrated success building teams, the Communications and Public Relations Director is adept at assessing needs, building staff profiles, and empowering employees. The ideal candidate believes in supporting the professional development, growth, and retention of staff. The Director is a strategic systems thinker with strong leadership skills necessary for managing change in support of a growing and evolving department. With strong emotional intelligence and well-defined leadership skills, the Communications and Public Relations Director values the diversity of thought, builds a strong understanding of equity, and serves as a catalyst for broad, Countywide change. The preferred candidate understands the importance of balancing the overall vision with day-to-day activities.

The Communications and Public Relations Director has the ability to deliver sensitive and controversial information appropriately, can discern between information appropriate for public consumption and information that should remain internal, and has experience managing communications and serving as the corporate spokesperson during times of crisis and emergencies. With a willingness to dig into the details, the successful candidate recognizes trends hindering progress, identifies opportunities for improvement, and develops and implements better practices to drive necessary change. The Director has robust interpersonal skills and builds strong and effective working relationships, quickly establishing trust and rapport in order to partner with different levels of the organization to achieve desired results.

When surveyed recently, Guilford County staff reported the following traits as desirable in a Communications and Public Relations Director:

  • Ability to differentiate important information
  • Change agent
  • Enthusiastic
  • Experience at internal collaboration
  • Flexible/adaptable
  • Innovative and creative
  • Passion for connecting others
  • Proactive communicator
  • Responsive
  • Transparent

The Community

Founded in 1771, Guilford County is the third-most populous County in North Carolina. Guilford County was named after Francis North, the first Earl of Guilford, and was formed from parts of Rowan and Orange Counties to centralize government and Courts of Guilford. The Guilford Courthouse became the location of General Nathanial Greene and Lord Cornwallis’ famous battle that was a turning point in the war and is still reenacted today. Guilford County, part of the beautiful Piedmont Triad area of north-central North Carolina, includes the cities of Greensboro and High Point and several towns and smaller communities. The County historically served as one of the major manufacturing and transportation hubs of the Southeast, most notably for textiles and furniture, and to this day has the largest furnishings trade show in the world, the High Point Furniture Market.

With a rich history of anti-slavery activism, Guilford County is a stop on the historic Underground Railroad, a nationally known landmark within the civil rights movement. Abolitionist Levi Coffin noted Guilford College Woods (historically called New Garden Woods) as a refuge for the Underground Railroad, now a protected area. Additionally, historic segregation protests in 1960 happened at the then white-only lunch counter at the Woolworth store in downtown Greensboro. Helping to fuel similar efforts across the nation, the former Woolworth store location is now the site of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.

The County is presently home to historical sites and institutions, as well as the host of notable recreational and cultural events such as the John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival, the North Carolina Folk Festival, the Wyndham Championship Golf Tournament, the Greensboro Grasshoppers and High Point Rockers baseball teams, and a variety of collegiate events. The public enjoys multiple regional parks within Guilford County, as well as opportunities for camping, fishing, golfing, and other outdoor recreation activities.

Guilford County residents benefit from strong educational programs. The County is home to many higher educational institutions, including North Carolina Agriculture & Technical University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, High Point University, Bennett College, Greensboro College, Guilford College, Elon University School of Law, and Guilford Technical Community College. Guilford County Schools is the third-largest school district in North Carolina and serves 70,000 PK-12 students at more than 120 schools with over 10,000 employees.

Guilford’s cities and towns are noted among the top U.S. cities for a low cost of living, almost 10% below the national average. These areas boast friendly, walkable neighborhoods, vibrant social scenes, plenty of cultural attractions, and a central location perfect for enjoying the abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation. A three-hour drive east brings you to the beautiful North Carolina coast, while a three-hour drive west places you on Mount Mitchell in the magnificent North Carolina mountains, the highest point east of the Mississippi River.

Quick Facts

  • Population: 537,174
  • Median Household Income: $53,261
  • Median Home Value: $167,000
  • Median Age: 37.1

All demographic information was sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Compensation

The minimum to market expected hiring range is $91,590 – $159,690, depending on directly related qualifications, with an excellent benefits package.

How to Apply

Applications will be accepted electronically by Raftelis. Applicants complete a brief online form and are prompted to provide a cover letter and resume. Open until filled with the first review of applications on February 10, 2022.

Questions

Please direct questions to Catherine Tuck Parrish at ctuckparrish@raftelis.com and Carly Trimboli at ctrimboli@raftelis.com.

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