Assistant Director, External Relations and Communications
About the Polsky Center //
The Polsky Center brings the power of ideas in the laboratory, classroom, and community to the world. Through education, resources, and programs, the Polsky Center commercializes discoveries, partners with companies, and attracts venture capital. The Polsky Center runs a top-ranked business accelerator, the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge and operates a 34,000 square-foot, multi-disciplinary co-working space called the Polsky Exchange; an innovation fund, the George Shultz Innovation Fund, that invests in early-stage ventures; and a state-of-the-art Fabrication Lab for prototyping new products. Finally, the Polsky Center manages the University of Chicago’s technology transfer function that manages all University-based intellectual property originating from faculty research and discoveries, which can be licensed to industry partners and investors. Polsky alums you have surely heard of here in Chicago, and across the globe, include Grubhub, Braintree, FoxTrot, Simple Mills, Ascent Technologies, Tovala, and more.
Job Summary //
The Assistant Director, External Relations and Communications for the Polsky Center is responsible for raising the external brand awareness of the Polsky Center—locally, nationally, and globally. The position engages regularly with campus partners, media outlets, and external organizations in the entrepreneurial, science, technology, and business community and is responsible for planning and managing all logistics for external brand-building opportunities and events that are either hosted by other organizations or by the Polsky Center. This includes organizing high-profile, public-facing events that offer joint marketing benefit with selected ecosystem partners. Given the nature of Polsky Center’s work, this position requires the ability to promote technological and scientific innovations to a variety of audiences.
Important components of this position include leading the Polsky Center’s external visibility and thought leadership strategies through communications, hosted events, award submissions, speaking engagements, conference participation, original content, press releases, as well as proactive media outreach. This position will work across the entire Polsky Center team, supporting the Center’s thought leaders and collaborating with other University of Chicago communications, media relations departments, and partnerships teams to align all external marketing and partnership efforts.
- Work with the Polsky Center leadership and marketing team to develop and implement an external relations and communications action plan for the Polsky Center that outlines specific goals, tactics, and measurable results for increasing external awareness of the Polsky Center.
- Serve as the primary coordinator and point-of-contact for conference participation and speaking opportunities for the Polsky Center staff. Manage all planning efforts and coordinate end-to-end logistics to maximize these thought leadership events as strategic marketing and lead-gen opportunities.
- Proactively seek out opportunities for the Polsky Center and affiliated startups/innovators to win awards and other recognition or competitions.
- Develop and maintain good working relationships with faculty, current students, and key alumni to utilize as validators and success stories for the Polsky Center, as well as highlight their successes in external communications.
- Assist key startups and innovators who have gone through Polsky Center programs with their early-stage marketing needs and PR outreach efforts.
- Recruit, train, and manage pool of interns and/or freelancers to provide public relations and communications support for Polsky Center affiliated startups and innovators.
Partnership Opportunities and High Profile Events
- Support the development and implementation of high-profile, public-facing events that will raise the brand awareness of the Polsky Center.
- Regularly engage with external and partner organizations and vet in-bound opportunities and proactively seek out new opportunities where event or program partnerships would help achieve the external awareness and recognition goals for the Center, working closely with partnership team.
- Support the execution of any Polsky Center event involving press and media, local/elected officials, and outside partners. Coordinate with chiefs of staff and communications partners of partner organizations to facilitate high profile speaker events.
- Work closely with the University Central Communications team to oversee event operations and planning efforts involving University leadership and/or elected officials. Ensure all Polsky speakers and senior stakeholders are armed with run-of-show and relevant talking points for their speaking roles.
- Actively seek out and participate in local entrepreneurial events by delivering presentations and engage in networking to establish Polsky Center visibility and relationships.
- Play a leading role in planning UChicago Innovation Fest, a month-long, university-wide celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation activities at the University of Chicago, which is orchestrated and led by the Polsky Center and involves participation with the campus community as well as outside partners.
Marketing and Communications
- Create PowerPoints for the Polsky Center, and play an active role in managing the Polsky Marketing Toolkit ensuring participation and usage across the organization and equipping team members with the most relevant slides and presentations.
- Update Polsky Center talking points on a monthly basis and ensure entire organization and other stakeholders are using the latest information, sizzle stats, and examples.
- Support content creation for communications vehicles including: press releases, featured stories, partnership announcements, IP technology milestones, awards submissions, speaker proposals, speaker presentations, blog posts, and thought leadership projects, etc.
- Be a willing resource to support ad hoc requests, related to programs, events, and non-marketing Polsky Center projects, as needed.
- Create and deliver presentations on the Polsky Center's activities to various audiences, as needed.
- Support the media relations operations of the Polsky Center by working to identify and develop strong relationships with key media contacts at local, regional, and national media outlets, and work with these contacts to garner coverage of the Polsky Center.
- Develop and implement relevant and timely pitches according to Polsky Center’s priority message platforms.
- Seek out and respond to ad hoc inbound requests and media requests (i.e., HARO, editorial calendars, etc.).
- Coordinate with internal teams, including Polsky marketing team colleagues, as well as Chicago Booth and University of Chicago communications and media relations teams, keeping all stakeholders apprised of ongoing media outreach efforts.
Additional Requirements //
- Bachelor's degree required.
- Master’s degree preferred.
- A minimum three years of public relations, marketing, sales, journalism, or partnership relations/development experience required.
- Experience writing about science, technology, entrepreneurship, and/or innovation topics required.
- Experience managing large-scale or high-profile events preferred.
- Experience pitching ideas and news stories to media preferred.
Technical Knowledge or Skills:
- Proficiency in Microsoft office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel) required.
- Excellent written and verbal communications skills required.
- Resourcefulness, creativity, detail-orientation, and ability to work independently required.
- Ability to effectively multi-task under deadlines, ask questions as necessary required.
- Ability to work effectively and collaboratively across all levels of the organization required.
- Demonstrated excellent customer service skills required.
- Willingness to take on additional duties, as assigned, required.
- Understanding of the Polsky Center’s programs, resources, mission and goals preferred.
- Ability to travel between Hyde Park, downtown Chicago, and 53rd Street required, and flexibility to occasionally work late or start early for the Polsky Center events required. This position will spend the majority of time in Hyde Park.
- Cover letter
- Writing samples or PowerPoint presentations (i.e., PR examples, presentations, news stories, articles and/or pitch examples)
Benefit Eligibility // Yes
Pay Frequency // Monthly
Pay Range // Depends on Qualifications
Scheduled Weekly Hours // 37.5
Union // Non-Union
Job is Exempt? // Yes
Posting Statement //
The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination.
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