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What does a Communications Director do?

By Vicki Hogue-Davies
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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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.

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Discussion Comments

By SarahSon — On Apr 29, 2012

@Mykol - You made an interesting point when it comes to working with all kinds of people and knowing you won't make all of them happy.

My daughter is working on getting her degree in communications and was surprised by the number of psychology classes she needed to take.

I told her in that line of work, understanding how people think and being able to work with them even if you don't agree is very important.

Her goal is to eventually have a communications director job. She definitely has the personality for the job, and now is working on her education and training. Life experiences she gains along the way will also be helpful for her down the road.

For many outside companies and organizations, the contact they have with the communications director is the first impression they will have of that company. It is crucial this be a positive and professional interaction.

By Mykol — On Apr 29, 2012

I think one of the keys to being a successful communications director is the ability to be flexible, work well with all kinds of people and be a good communicator.

I have my degree in communications and most director of communications job descriptions look for these qualities.

Working in communications is never boring and there are many challenging days. You realize very quickly that you will never make everybody happy.

The best I can do is present a positive image for the company, communicate effectively and not expect that everybody will always be pleased.

By honeybees — On Apr 28, 2012

I work in human resources at a very small company, and the public relations job ends up being my responsibility.

I enjoy doing this type of work and like the variety it adds to my position. I don't have any kind of formal training in this area, so have learned by just doing it.

I consider myself a people person, so enjoy the contact I have with organizations and people outside the company.

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