Communications Lead

Brooklyn, New York (US)
SALARY: WITNESS offers a competitive salary, comprehensive benefits, and ample PTO programs.
Jan 14, 2019
Metro Area
New York
Full Time



Communications Lead



WITNESS believes in the power of effective civic media to protect human rights and drive social change. As advocates and visual storytellers, we know the power of media and technology to amplify marginalized voices, hold abusers accountable, and catalyze movements. We are a global hub of innovative problem-solvers committed to maximizing the potential of the 21st century's most powerful tools for defending human rights.

For the past 26 years, we have supported activists in more than 100 countries and built trusted networks with grassroots communities, lawyers, and technology platforms – ceaselessly innovating to accelerate human rights and maximize civic participation. We are at a pivotal moment where we have the opportunity to exponentially expand our influence and reach, and are building a dynamic communications team to help lead the way.


We are looking for a self-starter with great ideas on how to take our communications efforts to the next level. The Communications Lead will develop and lead a proactive communications strategy to raise awareness and visibility of WITNESS, its programs and mission, and to engage partners and donors worldwide. This is a rich and challenging opportunity for a versatile writer/editor and exceptional project manager who will share primary responsibility for producing (conceptualizing, writing, editing, art-directing) fresh and vibrant content across digital and print channels.

What you will do:

Strategic Leadership:

  • Lead development and implementation of comprehensive organizational Communications Plan to significantly increase WITNESS’ profile, and to grow and sustain its supporter base worldwide;
  • Proactively identify and execute opportunities for advancing WITNESS’ mission and thought leadership, including earned media, press releases, op-eds, letters to the editor and via social media;
  • Oversee rapid response communications to daily events on issues at the intersection of video, human rights and technology;
  • Build relationships with key journalists, thought leaders, and media outlets to secure high-quality media coverage at a national level;
  • Prepare, train and support staff, grassroots advocates, and other spokespeople for media appearances; create and maintain talking points; respond to emerging news cycles;
  • Act as a spokesperson for the organization with media, on panels, at public events, etc.

Influencers & Social Media:

  • Develop, drive and oversee an innovative digital strategy, leveraging influencers and strategic partnerships in multi-faceted digital and social media campaigns to amplify WITNESS’ mission, communicate with its allies and grow its reach;
  • Reach and engage key online influencers, celebrities, strategic partners, and thought leaders to raise the profile and awareness of WITNESS’ work;
  • Develop strategy and calendar for all digital communications and marketing channels, including: WITNESS website and blog, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube), email newsletters, and online campaigns.

Content and Brand Management

  • Create and oversee production (conceptualizing, writing, editing, art-directing) of fresh and vibrant content across digital and print channels; with a video-first approach;
  • Oversee development of communications, external relations, and owned media content including brochures, annual reports, public presentation decks, website, blog, promotional videos, press kits, talking points, and ensure that all public facing materials are consistent in positioning and reflect WITNESS’ values and positioning;
  • Ensure consistency with brand and organizational messaging across all written and visual materials;
  • Oversee special projects that benefit the external relations department or organization as a whole, utilizing strategic partnerships and pro bono support to improve key communications functions.

High Profile Events:

  • Contribute to the theme, program, messaging and talent for high-profile events, including WITNESS’ annual Focus for Change Benefit;
  • Engage speakers, musicians and honorees through consistent year-long engagement and in lead up to key events, including: outreach and confirmation of attendance, gathering assets, drafting speeches, handling red carpet and press;
  • Oversee all communications, press and design elements for key events.

Donor Engagement:

  • Plan and oversee a new program of brand centered marketing, direct response, and donor development to educate, motivate, and influence target audiences;
  • Increase the engagement of current and future supporters, focusing on monthly and annual fund donors, by designing and executing creative and inspiring experiences that connect them with their impact through a variety of communication channels;
  • Develop, with External Relations Manager, appeal campaigns including end-of-year, Giving Tuesday, and International Human Rights Day;
  • Act as a lead champion and driver of WITNESS’ plans to enhance and increase its emergency fundraising efforts.


Overall Management:

  • Manage a dynamic team, including a Communications Associate and Senior Video Producer & Editor
  • Manage consultants, including a web designer/developer consultant and graphic design consultants
  • Manage and track the Communications Budget
  • Manage website development and web maintenance needs along with IT Manager;
  • Manage pro-bono opportunities and volunteers as appropriate


  • Education:  A Bachelor’s degree required, Master’s degree or other advanced degree preferred or equivalent work experience.
  • Work Experience:  At least 6-9 years experience working in communications, public affairs, journalism, marketing, media or advocacy relations, preferably working in human rights, social justice, progressive media environments; writing for external audiences and staff/ project management experience required.
  • Communications:  Exceptional communication skills (written, verbal and visual), editorial judgment and ability, interpersonal and networking skills, with an ability to communicate externally to a variety of stakeholders, groups, and audiences, and internally with all levels of staff; exceptional attention to detail; video production experience.
  • Project Management and Strategic Planning: Superior research, organization, project management, planning and forecasting, and media curation skills.
  • Work Habits:  Effective team player; exhibits grace under pressure and sound judgment; entrepreneurial spirit who thrives in a fast-paced and high-performing organization; maintains a healthy sense of humor.
  • Social Media: Familiarity with WordPress, microblogging sites, and dominant and emerging social engagement platforms including Twitter, Facebook; a good sense for and comfort level with technology and online community social norms and behaviors; a functional understanding of how these tools are used by and can be challenging for human rights activists.
  • Leadership: Proven ability to lead and manage teams to achieve goals successfully.
  • Language Skills: Proficiency in any additional languages a plus.


How to Apply:

To apply, send your cover letter with salary requirements, resume, and contact information for 3 references to with the subject line “Communications Lead [Your name]”.

Please include a cover letter.  We are really interested in hearing about what you’ve done, what you can do, and what you want to do at WITNESS.

Additional important information:

START DATE: Immediate

LOCATION: Brooklyn, NY

ADDITIONAL NOTES:  Our Brooklyn office is conveniently located near Atlantic Terminal as well as 2,3 B,C,Q NYC subway lines.


SALARY: WITNESS offers a competitive salary, comprehensive benefits, and ample PTO programs.

WITNESS is an equal opportunity employer.  People of all ages, races, ethnicities, national origins, religions, genders, gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations, and individuals protected by any other statuses under federal, state or local laws, including but not limited to, disability, marital, domestic partnership, familial, caregiver, transgender, military or veteran statuses, are encouraged to apply.  Authorization to work in the U.S. is required.

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