Director of Communications

City of Harrisonburg
Job Description
Do you want to use your dynamic skill set to make a difference in the City of Harrisonburg by serving as an integral member of the Executive Management Team?  If so, the Director of Communications position may be the right career for you!

The Director of Communications is a full-time position with benefits and a preferred hiring range of $75,296 - $100,942.  The ideal candidate for this position will oversee all aspects of the City's information and public relations program to achieve City Council's vision and goals.  The position serves at the pleasure of the City Manager and requires availability to be on-call and work non-standard hours, including weekends.

The Director of Communications will:
  • Serve as the chief City spokesperson with all media, including broadcasting, online and print media;
  • Prepare materials for use in presentations to the public, including talking pieces, video scripts, and PowerPoint presentations;
  • Develop and advise the City Manager on coordinated comprehensive communications strategies and outreach programs and oversee their implementation;
  • Develop both external and internal communications strategies, systems and tools that provide strong multi-platform communication with the community, City, employees and media;
  • Plan, coordinate, organize, and communicate information for large City events and programs, public service announcements and emergency messaging;
  • Create a process for and implement strategies for the use of content on the City's website, social media, print material, and cable television channel and other means of communication, outreach, and engagement for both internal and external communications;
  • Coordinate and monitor the work of contract technical and professional staff involved in graphic arts, photography, and cable television production of City programs;
  • Provide quality assurance assistance to departmental staff on public notices and materials to ensure consistency and adherence to City public information philosophy and guidelines;
  • Work closely with staff to maintain an effective and coordinated information program and liaison with the City Council, the City Manager, Department Directors, neighborhood and citizens' groups and the business community;
  • Anticipate problem areas within the information program and follow through on activities designed to keep the public informed and aware of major policy issues;
  • Expedite responses to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiries and complaints received from citizens and the media;
  • Maintain current knowledge of City Council and City Manager policy positions and City-wide programs, projects, services and issues;
  • Provide media relations training and guidance to other departments as needed;
  • Provide direction and assistance in media relations.
Physical Requirements:  This is sedentary work requiring the exertion of up to 10 pounds of force occasionally and a negligible amount of force frequently or constantly to move objects; work requires reaching, standing, walking, fingering, grasping, and repetitive motions; vocal communication is required for expressing or exchanging ideas by means of the spoken word; hearing is required to perceive information at normal spoken word levels; visual acuity is required for color perception, preparing and analyzing written or computer data, use of measuring devices, determining the accuracy and thoroughness of work, and observing general surroundings and activities; the worker is not subject to adverse environmental conditions.


Bachelor's degree with coursework in public relations, communications, journalism, public administration, or related field, with five (5) years of experience, preferably in the public sector with local government or any equivalent combination of training and experience which provides the required knowledge, skills, and abilities.  Valid driver's license required by the date of hire.

The ideal candidate should possess:
  • An understanding of the changing methods of communications and how best to utilize them in a City that embraces new technology while understanding that not all residents have access to the latest technologies;
  • Exceptional writing and editing skills;
  • Expertise in measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of media coverage;
  • Experience in developing public relations plans and budgets;
  • Experience in managing complex projects while working under pressure;
  • Skills related to being well-organized and detail-oriented.
The Director of Communications should be able to demonstrate:
  • Excellence at motivating and providing sound professional guidance to a highly competent staff;
  • High proficiency in the use of electronic media, especially social media, to deliver important information to our residents, businesses, and visitors;
  • Functional knowledge of the workings of media and public relations;
  • Familiarity with a variety of the industry's concepts, practices, and procedures;
  • Capabilities as a manager of both people and projects, including the ability to establish priorities and allocate assets properly with a keen focus on execution and detail;
  • The ability to think strategically, creatively and purposefully while managing multiple issues and projects.
Successful applicants for this position must successfully complete a drug screening, criminal background check, credit history review and DMV record review.


Application Requirements:  In order to be considered for this position, applicants must submit the following:  City of Harrisonburg online employment application, resume, cover letter, three professional references, a brief writing sample of the applicant's choice and a sample work product of the applicant's choice.  Applicants who are unable to upload the required documents via the online application must email the documents to Human Resources at  At a later phase in the recruitment process, finalists will be asked to provide a salary history.

Please note that the brief writing sample must be no longer than 2 pages and may include documents such as a published article, a press release or another sample of the applicant's choice.  The sample work product may include documents such as a newsletter, previous presentation or another sample of the applicant's choice.

Application Deadline:  All candidates must submit a complete City of Harrisonburg online employment application with the documents stated above by 5:00pm EST on January 4, 2019 in order to be considered.  Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
The City provides an excellent benefits package including health insurance, retirement (VRS & ICMA-RC), life insurance, paid leave, holidays and more.

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, disability or veteran status.

The City of Harrisonburg is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Contact Information