Communications Specialist - Impact Writer

University Of Minnesota Minneapolis , MN 55415

Posted 1 week ago

About the Job

The University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment is a nationally recognized interdisciplinary institution that works to advance sustainability through collaborative research, leadership and education programming, and public-interest storytelling and communications. This fall, we're adding a communications specialist - with a focus on external storytelling - to our staff.

We're looking for a sharp, creative communicator, who loves working with subject matter experts to tell compelling stories and illuminate big ideas.

  • You'll write and edit feature stories, profiles, announcements, and other forms of content, scaling the reach and impact of our work and grantmaking.

  • You'll coordinate social media, helping further amplify voices and ideas - and engaging in return with the people, organizations, and ideas on those platforms.

  • You'll also play a key role in developing earned media, including monitoring the landscape, partnering on planning, and executing integrated strategies.

Reporting to the director of communications, this new role requires collaboration with a variety of subject matter experts: researchers, educators, other communicators, sustainability practitioners, and more. Curiosity, adaptability, and confidence will all serve you well. IonE is also committed to DEIJ (diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice) and antiracism in its mission and operations, and we will consider applicants' intercultural competencies; experience in identifying and dismantling systemic inequities; and ability to integrate DEIJ concepts in the work of communications.

The starting range for this position is $45-50K, and it is eligible for UMN civil service employee group benefits. You'll be based in St. Paul, MN, and eligible to work remotely up to 50% time or more, in accordance with our flexible work guidelines. Read more about benefits below, along with how to apply. We particularly encourage applications from individuals who belong to groups that have been historically underrepresented in environmental work and in academia, including those who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color, those with disabilities, and those from LGBTQIA+ communities.

Job Duties and Responsibilities

  • Impact Writing & External Storytelling
  • 40%
  • Research, write, fact-check, and publish sustainability and climate impact stories, including features, profiles, and Q&As, illuminating people, ideas, and outcomes

  • Prepare quick-hit announcements, research briefs, and the occasional press release, as indicated in communications plans and overarching strategy

  • Collaborate with the digital & multimedia manager to ensure written stories include visually engaging media - and, in turn, partner with them on other forms of storytelling

  • Write and/or edit and coordinate the production of two-pagers, reports, and other impact-oriented publications, working as needed with freelance designers and/or student assistants

  • Assist in drafting core copy for storytelling events, such as the People & Planet series

  • Working with IonE's communications manager, draft, revise, fact-check, load, and proof IonE's bimonthly external newsletter

  • Communications Planning & Coordination

  • 10%
  • Help write communications plans for various projects and storytelling opportunities

  • Working with various IonE partners, develop and maintain a projects database - or alternate method - for keeping tabs on IonE activities and investments, and help improve systems for sharing ideas and information

  • Collaborate with the IonE communications group and other colleagues, identifying and developing content ideas in alignment with our editorial calendar and goals

  • Social Media

  • 20%
  • Partnering with colleagues, set channel objectives and develop a social strategy

  • Write, design, and publish content, tracking performance and engagement metrics

  • Monitor channels, engage with platform communities, and listen for insights

  • Establish best practices, standards for design and content, and mechanisms for collaboration - and advise IonE colleagues on social media strategy

  • Earned Media

  • 20%
  • Collaborate with IonE colleagues and University Relations on proactive strategies that enhance the University and IonE's reputation and thought leadership

  • Prepare share kits and other packaged assets for partners and collaborating communicators

  • Monitor the media landscape (via Agility PR and other tools), following local, regional, and national coverage, sharing stories of interest and advising on media opportunities

  • Help respond to media inquiries, making timely connections and recommendations

  • Community & Continuous Learning

  • 10%
  • Develop a solid understanding of the intersection of DEIJ principles and communications, then work to embed those principles into communications and storytelling

  • Follow science communication and storytelling trends, develop your skills, and bring your insights and ideas back to your team and work

  • Engage with the IonE community, sharing your expertise - and encouraging and enabling others to communicate effectively, efficiently, and in an engaging way


Required Qualifications

  • BA/BS degree in a relevant field, such as communications, journalism, or design, OR a combination of related education and work experience to equal at least four years.

  • Excellent writing, editing, and proofreading skills that lend themselves to a variety of content types

  • Demonstrated ability to manage simultaneous projects, prioritize tasks, and meet deadlines

  • Experience working with subject matter experts to translate or summarize complex information for non-expert audiences

  • Commitment to collaboration, partnership, and co-creation within an organization and with external partners

  • Demonstrated ability to work both independently and collaboratively

  • Commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in your work and workplace

Especially strong candidates are likely to have some but not all (or be interested in developing) the following preferred skills, experiences, and strengths:

  • A strong portfolio of wide-ranging writing

  • Experience managing for social media for organizations

  • Experience developing media relations strategies and working with journalists

  • A solid grasp of graphic design principles and strong visual communication skills

  • Proficiency in (or willingness to learn) graphic design software and other visual tools, including Canva and Adobe Creative Suite

  • Experience with Mailchimp, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Wordpress, and/or Drupal

  • Avid interest in consuming environmental news, trends, and content

  • A connection to sustainability, environmental issues, and/or mission-driven work

  • An interest in science communication - and the challenge of creatively, compellingly expressing complex ideas

  • A growth mindset, a willingness to take risks, learn, and repeat

About the Department

The Institute on the Environment (IonE) is a mission-driven unit with big ambition. A UMN systemwide entity, IonE catalyzes interdisciplinary, community-responsive research; works to cultivate sustainability leaders; and uses storytelling as a tool to scale impact, convene our community, and drive change.

As part of the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), IonE endorses a "work with flexibility" approach that offers a welcoming and flexible work environment where everyone is inspired to do their best. Work location options include working fully remote, partially remote, or entirely in the office and are based on the work of the position. Some on-site work may be necessary for certain positions, even those designated as fully remote. Because we are a land-grant institution that serves the state, the University will continue to, in most cases, expect employees to live in Minnesota.

This position has been designated as Profile 2 or Profile 3. Profile 2 is expected to work on-site more than 50% of the time, and your office will be located in St. Paul, MN. Or as a Profile 3, you will be expected to work remotely more than 50% of the time, and your dedicated office space will be in your remote work location. IonE management retains the right to modify flexible work arrangement agreements on a temporary or permanent basis for any reason at any time.


Working at the University

At the University of Minnesota, you'll find a flexible work environment and supportive colleagues who are interested in lifelong learning. We prioritize work-life balance, allowing you to invest in the future of your career and in your life outside of work.

The University also offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes:

  • Competitive wages, paid holidays, and generous time off

  • Continuous learning opportunities through professional training and degree-seeking programs supported by the Regents Scholarship

  • Low-cost medical, dental, and pharmacy plans

  • Healthcare and dependent care flexible spending accounts

  • University HSA contributions

  • Disability and employer-paid life insurance

  • Employee wellbeing program

  • Excellent retirement plans with employer contribution

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) opportunity

  • Financial counseling services

  • Employee Assistance Program with eight sessions of counseling at no cost

Please visit the Office of Human Resources website for more information regarding benefits.

How To Apply

The application period will close on 10/09/2022, and we will begin reviewing applications on 10/10/2022.

To be considered, submit a cover letter, a resume, and three writing/work samples (links are fine!).

Applicants are encouraged to indicate their preferred name and their pronouns in their materials. Questions or barriers to applying? Email We recognize that applying takes effort, and we look forward to reading and reviewing your materials.

Applications must be submitted online. To be considered for this position, please click the Apply button and follow the instructions. You will be given the opportunity to complete an online application for the position and attach a cover letter and resume.

Additional documents may be attached after application by accessing your "My Job Applications" page and uploading documents in the "My Cover Letters and Attachments" section.

To request an accommodation during the application process, please e-mail or call (612) 624-UOHR (8647).


The University recognizes and values the importance of diversity and inclusion in enriching the employment experience of its employees and in supporting the academic mission. The University is committed to attracting and retaining employees with varying identities and backgrounds.

The University of Minnesota provides equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. To learn more about diversity at the U:

IonE is committed to becoming an anti-racist organization and to building a culturally diverse and inclusive environment with equity core to our work.

Employment Requirements

Any offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check. Our presumption is that prospective employees are eligible to work here. Criminal convictions do not automatically disqualify finalists from employment.

Please note: All employees at the University of Minnesota are required to comply with the University's Administrative Policy: COVID-19 Vaccination and Safety Protocol by either providing proof of being fully vaccinated on their first day of employment, or complete a request for an exemption for medical exemption or religious reasons. To learn more please visit:

About the U of M

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UMTC)

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UMTC), is among the largest public research universities in the country, offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional students a multitude of opportunities for study and research. Located at the heart of one of the nation's most vibrant, diverse metropolitan communities, students on the campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul benefit from extensive partnerships with world-renowned health centers, international corporations, government agencies, and arts, nonprofit, and public service organizations.

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