Public Affairs Officer

Columbia University
New York City, New York
Commensurate with experience
May 24, 2018
Metro Area
New York
Full Time

Public Affairs Officer

Reporting to the Executive Vice President for Communications and working closely with the public affairs team in the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, the public affairs officer promotes Columbia’s academic initiatives, research breakthroughs, intellectual expertise, breaking news and special events to the news media. Public affairs officers are generalists on a variety of public affairs duties and responsibilities but each one is assigned specific focus areas to help meet defined communications needs.

This opening is for an individual to cover the “beat” that includes journalism and the humanities. This includes coverage of related academic departments, centers, institutes and events. Specific topics and assignments are subject to change.


●   The public affairs officer pitches news, interview opportunities and upcoming events directly to reporters and editors. He/she writes news releases and advisories for local, national and international media.

●   The officer establishes and nurtures effective working relationships with local, national and international journalists from print, broadcast, online, community, ethnic and social media.

●   He/she serves as a front-line news media contact, fields incoming media requests and facilitates and staffs interviews with faculty. He/she also coordinates and staffs on-campus videography and photography by news outlets and by in-house teams.

●   Particular emphasis is placed on developing media relations initiatives on behalf of Columbia’s schools, centers, departments and programs consistent with the University’s umbrella messages. He/she works directly with faculty, administrators and deans with the goal of achieving measurable media results.

●   As part of the public affairs team, the individual drafts and organizes supporting materials such as media kits, background memos, talking points and Q&As. He/she develops and updates media lists and performs related tasks as required.

●   He/she collaborates with public affairs colleagues from across the University as well as with deans, department chairs and faculty members to proactively develop strategic long-term media relations plans.

●   The incumbent attends selected University events, conducts media check-in and monitors media as needed. Occasionally, these events take place in the evenings and on weekends.

●   Public affairs officers often report and write articles on their beat area for the University’s print and online news channels. Occasionally, this also includes event coverage.

●   The public affairs officer contributes ideas and engages with his/her teammates in an ongoing effort to improve and strengthen the office’s professional environment. The officer works closely with his/her multimedia teammates across Communications and Public Affairs to support well-coordinated outreach that enhances the University’s visibility.


A bachelor’s degree and/or its experience equivalent is required. A minimum of five years of progressive public affairs experience is required. Basic PC computer skills (Word, email, internet, etc.) are a must.

Successful public affairs officers are strong, fast writers with careful attention to detail. To thrive as a public affairs officer, the individual possesses the ability to accurately translate specialized and technical jargon into lay language for general audiences. Other helpful attributes include an organized work ethic, a sense of calm under pressure, a belief in team spirit and a healthy respect for deadlines. Successful officers have excellent phone and interpersonal skills.

Specific knowledge and experience working with the New York, national and international news media is highly preferred. An advanced degree is preferred and foreign language abilities are welcomed. Experience with media-related services and software—Meltwater, Vocus, Lexus Nexus, EXCEL, Photoshop—is a plus.

Minority candidates are encouraged to apply.

Columbia University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

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