Position Title: Communications Manager
Reports To: Director of External Affairs
Location: Chicago, IL
Compensation: Competitive salary and full suite of benefits
Why Join INCS?
Illinois needs an advocate to ensure policy makers and families receive accurate facts about charter public schools and understand their valuable contributions to Illinois communities. INCS is that advocate and the Communications Manager is a key leader in this effort. You will develop and execute a communications strategy that tells the transformational impact of charter public schools and be empowered to build out a communications and digital marketing strategy to achieve that goal. This person should have enthusiasm in the belief that charter schools have the power to transform public education and the lives of students. This individual will act as a leader in supporting communications efforts across multiple channels and stakeholder groups.
Twenty years ago, when educators and community members started the charter school movement, people questioned whether students in low-income communities could succeed at the highest levels. That debate is now over. They can, and they do, as evidenced by the high school graduation rates and post-secondary success of thousands of Illinois charter school students. The only remaining question is whether we have the will to make this happen for more families. That is the work we are committed to.
The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) advocates for the improvement of public education by leveraging the charter school model as a catalyst to transform lives and communities. INCS works to ensure that charter public schools have adequate and equitable resources, the autonomy to find innovative approaches to meet student needs, and a fair and transparent policy landscape that allows high-quality options to thrive.
In 2017, years of concerted effort led to a change in Illinois’ education funding law that resulted in a statewide increase of $55 million in new charter school funding. Ensuring that the increased funding flows to charter public schools and that additional schools are authorized and open will take additional, creative efforts in the next year. We are thrilled by the progress that occurred in 2017 and will continue to work with policymakers, school leaders, parents, and community members to secure high quality educational options for underserved communities and students.
As the voice of Illinois charter schools, INCS engages a diverse coalition of policymakers, school leaders, parents, and community members to create systemic change and secure high-quality schools for underserved communities. INCS makes its impact through several program teams: Government Affairs, Charter Growth and Support, and Communications. These teams are supported by our Development and Operations teams. The organization is based in Chicago, where most Illinois charter schools are located, and has a satellite office in Springfield.
What You Will Be Accountable For
Media Relations Strategy:
• Drive proactive media strategy to push INCS brand as a trusted, credible source of public education policy issues.
• Support, train, and develop talking points for spokespeople for the organization in the media, at press conferences, CPS Board of Education meetings, and other public forums.
• Ensure that INCS’s messaging is consistent with overall brand and mission and is understood by a variety of stakeholders.
Digital Marketing Strategy:
• Lead strategy and content development across organization’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts.
• Create and maintain a strategic e-mail program for several school district, state, and local legislative and electoral campaigns.
• Manage and craft content for multiple online campaigns simultaneously.
• Monitor and seek improvements on email results based on Key Performance Indicators as well as use multivariate (A/B) testing for performance improvement.
• Use SMS tools, including blast text and peer-to-peer text to communicate with and activate voters, allies, and activists.
• Create regular reports on SMS and email program performance results based on in-platform analytics and/or in-house data systems.
• Work closely with data team to effectively identify, segment, and target lists, as well as creative effective and meaningful analytics program.
• Research, write, and edit dynamic and effective online mobilization communications and campaigns with email, text messaging, video, and other online communication tools.
• Work closely with teams across the organization on the identification and execution of email and SMS components to our political, issue, organizing and legislative programs.
• Integrating online and offline activism.
• Track and analyze campaign metrics.
• Research and recommend emerging digital media technologies and channels.
• Train charter school partners on online organizing, communications, SMS, email and best practices and tools.
Charter School Network Support and Communications:
• Provide unified messaging and strategy to charter operator communications staff on high-priority advocacy issues or news stories to ensure the charter community is prepared and aligned on responses to the media and other stakeholders.
• Develop and collaborate on electoral strategies and identify advocacy tactics that complement message development.
• Write compelling and relevant content for use across multiple communications platforms, including press, social media, fact sheets, blogs, etc.
• Lead meetings with a coalition of communications professionals to develop sector-wide messaging, strategy, and outreach.
• Oversight of INCS communication channels, platforms, and procedures:
• Oversee communications team operations, including processes and platforms related to all communication channels.
• Manage INCS and INCS Action brands across all communication channels.
• Oversee strategic use of all communication channels, including INCS website, email, social media, direct mail, etc.
• Manage vendor relationships owned by communications team, such as website provider and graphic designer.
• Strategy and team leadership:
• Set strategies and priorities in line with the organization’s strategic plan and annual goals, monitor progress toward goals, and correct course based on data and reflection.
• Advise Leadership Team on media, publication, digital and marketing opportunities across the organization.
• Create strategies to help the internal Government Affairs team communicate with a variety of external audiences: political campaigns, races, and elected leaders.
EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS
First and foremost, candidates must believe that every child, regardless of socioeconomic factors or their academic starting point, has the potential to succeed in school, career, and life. In addition, candidates should have an awareness of how public education systems have historically and disproportionately disadvantaged certain communities and must believe that charter schools have the power to transform public education and the lives of students.
Ideal candidates will possess the following characteristics:
• Undergraduate Degree; Master’s Degree a plus
• 5+ years of experience with communications, PR, and marketing strategy
• Skilled social media strategist to build brand and awareness and ability to develop and execute digital campaigns with engaging content.
• Digital Marketing Strategy and Analytics
• Public speaking and data interpretation (website, email, social media metrics) skills.
• Understanding of charter schools and city, state, district politics Political/Cultural Navigation
• Ability to navigate complex and sensitive political environments, including dealing with vocal opposition that is often not fact-based.
• Ability to work independently and through challenges to deliver high-quality work and clear SMART goals.
• Experience working with a variety of stakeholders, developing partner relationships, and supporting schools with their communications needs.
• Confident, mature outlook and presence, sense of humor, relentless optimism, a spirit of problem-solving, and calm under pressure.
• A strong desire to build a culture of high-quality, timely, and relevant communications across the organization.
• Strong writing skills with high proficiency working with Microsoft Office tools to create documents and presentations.
• Graphic design
• Firm experience or prior experience in education reform
• Media editing skills with a demonstrated track record of success using multiple media channels.
• Website development
• Newsletter development (content, Mailchimp design, and building lists)
• Sales, business development, or related experience
• Two to five years of project management experience
• Education or non-profit sectors is preferred but not required.
CULTURAL COMPETENCY AT INCS
Cultural competency is a lifelong process of building the knowledge, mindset, and skills necessary to engage fully and effectively with students, colleagues, and stakeholders of different backgrounds. This process requires us to deeply understand our nation’s history of injustice and its link to the persistent opportunity gaps that INCS and its member schools are focused on closing. It also requires us to strengthen our cultural competency by better understanding our own implicit and explicit biases and by reflecting on our words and actions through open dialogue.
INCS invests in building greater cultural competence and responsiveness across our team by supporting ongoing reflection, learning, skill-building, and positive actions. We know that culturally competent teams, especially when inclusive of individuals who share the racial, socioeconomic, and academic backgrounds (e.g., first-generation college-goers) of member schools’ student populations, are best equipped to take action to ensure fairness inside and outside of INCS. To that end, we believe in building a richly diverse and inclusive organization, including a mission-critical imperative for all staff to both model and contribute to the vision we hope to achieve.
INCS believes it is critical for leaders to reflect the communities they serve. Diversity across multiple dimensions enables us to achieve our mission of transforming lives and communities through public education. We don’t just accept difference – we celebrate it, support it, and thrive on it to benefit our staff, member schools, and the broader community. We are proud to be an equal opportunity workplace and seek and welcome a diverse pool of candidates in this search.
If you want to engage fully and effectively with students, parents, colleagues, and other stakeholders to help them understand the opportunity gaps that charter public schools are working to close, then apply now!