Science/Research Writer, Media Relations Officer (Public Affairs/Communications Specialist III) (505021)

  • San Diego State University
  • San Diego, California
  • Sep 17, 2021
Full Time Community Relations or PR and Marketing Political or Public Affairs Sciences and Laboratory

Job Description


Position Summary

Strategic Communications and Public Affairs (StratComm) serves as the official voice of San Diego State University and shares the President's vision, values and priorities while articulating a unified message about the university's unique story. Core service areas include crisis and issues management, marketing, news and media relations, social media, web and interactive communications, executive communications and visual communications, and government and community relations. We work together and with our partners across the institution and auxiliaries to promote the transformational diversity and impact of SDSU programs and achievements.

The Science/Research Writer, Media Relations Officer plays a key role in advancing and elevating SDSU's $141 million research enterprise. Under the direction of the Director of Media Relations, the Media Relations Officer works closely with leading scientists, deans, and fellow communicators to identify and write stories about research in science, public health, and engineering, and to strategically pitch discoveries and scientific advancements to local and national media outlets.

Research is a core part of SDSU's strategic plan. This is an excellent opportunity for an individual who is excited about the prospect of highlighting research with deep local impact and international reach. The individual in this role should have a strong background in media relations and be an excellent and experienced science writer.

The Science/Research Writer, Media Relations Officer is responsible for developing, researching, and writing clear and compelling science and research news stories. This includes originating, researching, and writing stories for SDSU's online and print publications, for video, and for other digital media. This also includes, under the direction of the Director of Media Relations, pitching newsworthy stories to the above-mentioned reporters and outlets and working to coordinate needed elements. The Media Relations Officer should be familiar with AP Style and editorial best practices.

The Science/Research Writer, Media Relations Officer will strategically work toward media placement in the regional, national and international spaces by proactively cultivating and developing relationships with reporters and editors. Under the direction of the Director of Media Relations, the Media Relations Officer will analyze the media space for potential pitching opportunities, and develop and coordinate significant media stories with newswires, like the Associated Press, niche outlets, and specialty publications.

In close coordination with the media relations team, the Media Relations Officer also proactively monitors for potential issues management situations that may impact faculty researchers, with an eye on media trends on the local, national and international levels. The Media Relations Officer will assist with offering consultation and prepare draft statements in response to potential media and social media issues. The Media Relations Officer promotes SDSU's research mission through StratComm's existing channels and by employing creative new strategies.

The Media Relations Officer works closely with campus leaders and also partners in the Office of the President, the Division of Research and Innovation, University Relations and Development, the SDSU Research Foundation, SDSU Imperial Valley, and the academic colleges. Through this collaborative work, the Media Relations Officer provides messaging support, develops and writes stories, and coordinates media outreach. Specifically, the Media Relations Officer serves as StratComm's lead beat contact for SDSU Imperial Valley and several academic colleges.

Regarding specific support for SDSU Imperial Valley, the Media Relations Officer will initiate and amplify voices and news from the university campus. The Media Relations Officer will work closely with SDSU Imperial Valley's leadership team to elevate its visibility and profile throughout the San Diego, state, and national regions.

The Media Relations Officer also has several other responsibilities in support of StratComm-led priorities. Those include the following:
  • The Media Relations Officer contributes writing, editing, proofing and may provide creative strategy to the SDSU Magazine, working directly with the magazine editor.
  • The Media Relations Officer will help to coordinate cross-promotional activities on various campus-owned social media and college websites for newsworthy stories with campus partners and help create social media content across platforms.
  • The Media Relations Officer will contribute to multimedia projects, generating short-form, informational videos and/or video content to share with media and promote on social media.

For more information regarding Strategic Communications and Public Affairs, click here.

This is a full-time (1.0 time-base) benefits-eligible, permanent (probationary) position. This position is designated non-exempt under FLSA and is eligible for overtime compensation. Standard SDSU work hours are Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but may vary based on operational needs.

Education and Experience

Entry to the first level within this classification requires knowledge of the fundamentals of public affairs and/or media relations, and/or some exposure to marketing and marketing research. This background normally is obtained through a college degree, which includes relevant coursework in the field, and up to two years of related professional or technical experience. In addition, strong written and verbal communication skills with a solid foundation in grammar, spelling, and the composition of various communication vehicles are essential to initial entry to this classification.

Preferred Qualifications
  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent in journalism, communications, English, related fields, or sciences
  • Minimum of 5 years of experience working in and/or writing about science, research, and technology
  • A strong background in science and research writing and reporting, with combined experience in media relations at both the local and national level
  • Ability to understand and analyze scientific data and information and present it in a clear, coherent manner that can speak to a general audience
  • Experience working at a research university to promote research/science
  • Proven ability to work with campus leadership at the vice president and dean levels and to provide leadership with consultations on communications
  • Ability to manage collaborative projects across campus and with outside agencies, including initiating and coordination of complex requirements
  • Experience producing creative content for use in a variety of media including print, TV, radio, online, and other new media, particularly national media and media outlets focused on issues in diverse populations
  • Demonstrated experience using digital communications, including the web and social media, as part of a strategic communications and media relations campaign
  • Understanding and experience working with new media to achieve communications objectives for a large, complex organization
  • Ability to coordinate multiple activities simultaneously, and prioritize to effectively meet deadlines
  • Knowledge of SDSU campus, its faculty, staff, students, and key programs in the scientific and research domains
  • Spanish language proficiency
  • Involvement in professional organizations and association

Compensation and Benefits

Starting salary upon appointment not expected to exceed $5000 per month. CSU Classification Salary Range: $4,104 - $7,425 per month. Salary placement is determined by the education, experience, and qualifications the candidate brings to the position, internal equity, and the hiring department's fiscal resources.

San Diego State University offers a rich benefits package that constitutes a major portion of total compensation. For more information regarding SDSU benefits, please click here.

Supplemental Information

Initial review of the required application materials, including cover letters and resumes, will begin on October 4, 2021. To receive full consideration, apply by October 3, 2021. The position will remain open until filled.

The person holding this position is considered a 'mandated reporter' under the California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act and is required to comply with the requirements set forth in CSU Executive Order 1083 as a condition of employment.

San Diego State University is not a sponsoring agency for staff or management positions (e.g., H-1B visa). Applicants must currently be authorized to work in the United States on a full-time basis. Offers of employment are contingent upon the presentation of documents that demonstrate a person's identity and authorization to work in the United States, which are consistent with the provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act.

A background check (including a criminal records check) must be completed satisfactorily before any candidate can be offered a position with the CSU. Failure to satisfactorily complete the background check may affect the application status of applicants or continued employment of current CSU employees who apply for the position.

SDSU is a smoke-free campus. For more information, please click here.

SDSU is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against persons on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and expression, marital status, age, disability, pregnancy, medical condition, or covered veteran status.

Applicants with disabilities and applicants who require assistance completing an application may contact Casie Martinez at

Closing Date/Time: Open until filled

Job Address

San Diego, California 92182 United States View Map