Communications Officer

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Ottawa, Canada

Skill Required:, Media and Communication
Preferred Experience: 
7 to 10 Year
Closing Date for Applications: 
12th May, 2021

Job Description

In line with its Global Communications Strategy, UNHCR requires a skilled communications professional to conceive and execute a range of activities to help UNHCR in Canada lead the narrative on forced displacement, generate empathy and mobilize action.
The body of work for this exciting position will include providing support to execute a national communications strategy, leading news and media relations, increasing quantity and quality of coverage and ensuring analytics and reporting. Working closely with fundraising and marketing colleagues, they will also be responsible for coordinating public outreach and campaigns. Reporting to the Senior Communications and External Relations Officer, the Communications Officer will supervise a team of two staff.
The Communications Officer will help reinforce UNHCR¿s role as the lead agency that protects refugees, internally displaced and stateless people and helps mobilize action to provide solutions. They will need to cultivate a keen understanding of UNHCR Canada target audiences¿including an up-to-the-minute grasp of the methods and tone of voice that resonate deeply, win trust and spark quality engagement. They must be vigilant about editorial and journalistic standards, attentive to protection concerns and political sensitivities, and focused on communicating successfully with key demographics.
The Communications Officer will focus largely on increasing the breadth and depth of UNHCR Canada¿s engagement with the media and the public. Proactively building and increasing partnerships with media outlets that reach strategic target audiences will be a key aspect of this role. They must have an expert understanding of the media landscape, and a proven track record of positioning organizations and spokespeople as thought leaders in Canada. Understanding that audiences will vary by location, language and platform, as well as whether the aim is to inform, advocate or mobilize action, the Communications Officer will be able to design and implement campaigns that increase public support for refugees, and engage existing and new supporters and mobilize concrete actions in support of refugee positive policies.
All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core, functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR¿s core values of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity.

Functional Statement:

Accountability (key results that will be achieved)

Communications Planning and Coordination with Fundraising/Marketing Communications

  •  Manage overall planning of the country office public communications initiatives and activities, including by maintaining a timeline and/or calendar of events.
  •  Work closely and collaboratively with PSP Manager of Marketing Communications to ensure coordination of activities.
  •  Review PSP Marketing Communications content to ensure consistency with guidance from the Country Representative.
  •  In collaboration with PSP Manager of Marketing Communications, explore and implement joint communications and engagement opportunities around key moments of shared interest.

Public Information and Communications:

  • Support the development and implementation of a national communications strategy, providing solid recommendations on identifying thematic priorities and target audiences to meet UNHCR

Canadas overall strategic objectives.

  • Forge strategic partnerships with individuals and organizations who can help produce and promote UNHCR content, activities and messaging as well as provide research insights to improve communications and civil society actors.
  •  Oversee work and manage deliverables of 2 staff in line with direction set by Senior Communications Officer and Country


  •  Oversee creation and dissemination of emotive storytelling to generate empathy (e.g. stories, multimedia content) and mobilize public action by signposting concrete steps people can take to help refugees (e.g. digital diplomacy and action-driven campaigns).
  •  Ensure content created reaches maximum impact by developing strategies for distribution from the outset, boosting the visibility of our content on relevant UNHCR channels and placing it on external channels.
  •  Research, prepare, fact-check, edit and produce professional media and communications materials for target audiences and ensure their timely dissemination via UNHCR's communications channels, ensuring highest quality standards.
  •  Closely monitor the implementation of communications projects and adjust accordingly. Benchmark the results of communications projects against set success indicators; build on communications successes.

Media Relations:

  •  Develop and implement communications strategies, campaigns, events and other initiatives in support of UNHCR's strategic objectives, including its need for leading share of voice on refugee and related matters, and ensure coverage of refugee situations in domestic media.
  •  Lead the development of news-driven and authoritative content to lead the narrative on forced displacement and show UNHCR¿s impact (e.g. interviews, press releases, flagship reports, speeches)
  •  Draft media releases, statements and media briefing notes, and secure clearances, working in conjunction with relevant focal points and keeping sensitive to needs of both internal and external audiences.
  •  Continually maintain and upgrade communications skills, keeping abreast of emerging platforms and tools, and systematically reviewing media impact and reporting on results through measurement tools.
  •  Position and support spokespeople for UNHCR, organizing press events, handling interviews requests and providing responses to requests from media relating to UNHCR and its work.
  •  Engage with journalists and public audiences via social media channels.
  •  Support and plan missions and field trips with media in support of UNHCR and its work.
  •  Actively maintain media relations for UNHCR Canada, ensuring that media (and other important external stakeholders, such as governments, embassies, NGOs etc.) are briefed regularly on issues of importance to UNHCR, and have access to information and UNHCR expertise.
  •  Perform other related duties as required.

Responsibility (process and functions undertaken to achieve results)

  •  Supervise the work of two staff, under guidance of the Senior Communications and External Relations Officer
  •  Stay abreast of the political context, the UN and humanitarian reform, and institutional developments in the area of forced displacement and humanitarian operations.
  •  Implement all aspects communications strategies that generate support for UNHCR¿s operations from external partners (e.g. the general public, governments, partners, media, academia, NGOs, private sector and persons of concern).
  •  Manage media relations by, inter alia, responding to direct queries, publishing press releases, handling interview requests and organizing regular briefings and visits to country operations.
  •  Ensure appropriate visibility in the media for donor contributions
  •  Coordinate public communications work with fundraising and marketing colleagues
  •  Represent UNHCR on behalf of senior management in communication priorities in inter-agency initiatives and fora.

Authority (decisions made in executing responsibilities and to achieve results)

  •  Produce briefing notes, background material, talking points, fact sheets, press releases and articles.
  •  Produce media/social media content/material.
  •  Produce media monitoring reports
  •  Manage a timeline/calendar of communications activities
  •  Produce a national media relations strategy
  •  Produce public engagement project plans, including assigning deliverables and ensure their completion

Essential Minimum Qualifications and Experience:

  •  6 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 5 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 4 years relevant experience with Doctorate degreeLanguage Requirements
  • Expert English-language skills required, knowledge of French is highly desirable, and knowledge of Spanish or other UN working language an asset

Desirable Qualifications & Competencies:

  • Relevant experience is considered as professional experience in communications, preferably journalism or media relations, on issues relevant to UNHCRs work.
  •  Previous experience working in media relations, journalism or communications in a humanitarian emergency or on refugee issues
  •  Strong media and social media presence and established networks
  •  Experience working on advocacy campaigns that mobilize concrete actions for change
  •  Experience with measurement and evaluation, especially providing analysis of media coverage, social media engagement, web traffic, etc.
  •  Experience reporting, writing, editing for magazines, newspapers and websites.


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