A communications director oversees the flow of information within a corporation, non-profit, government agency, or other entity. People in this position develop and implement strategies and plans to communicate a company's message. They advise an organization's top leaders about public relations and internal communication strategy. The prime responsibility for managing an organization's image falls to the communications director.
One of the major roles of the communications director is managing media relations. He or she is the main spokesperson for the organization. The director fields questions from journalists, arranges press conferences and junkets, and writes press releases. He or she provides media training to others in the organization about speaking with journalists. The director strives to build good relationships with journalists to garner positive publicity for his or her organization.
In addition to media relations, the communications director is also responsible for government and community relations. He or she oversees the promotion of positive relations with government officials and the local public. Some examples of what this may involve include overseeing a speaker's bureau, attending local community meetings, and implementing volunteerism programs that support the community.
Within many organizations, employee communications are also under the purview of the communications director. Planning management meetings with employees and writing newsletters and other informational materials are examples of the employee communications role. At some companies and organizations, however, human resources has this responsibility.
Corporate communications directors often supervise marketing communications efforts. Marketing communications involves the development of written collateral material to help bring new business into the company. Marketing collateral includes sales brochures, white papers, case studies, and more.
To be effective, people in this position must understand all the interest groups served by their organization. They must stay on top of what is being said about their organization in the media, and if necessary, counter negative publicity. They must be able to perform well under pressure, especially if an emergency or crisis occurs. Crisis and emergency communications planning is another very important area of responsibility for the director.
In a larger organization, the communications director will usually have a staff. The staff will often include managers and their staffs for each of the communications functions. Depending upon the organization and its size, the director of communications may report to a vice president of communications or may be the top communicator, reporting to the organization's leader.
In the private sector, "communications director," "director of communications," or "public relations director" are common titles for a person in this leadership role. The government often uses "press secretary." "Chief of public affairs" is commonly used in the military.