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What Does a Community Relations Director Do?

A Community Relations Director is a bridge between an organization and its community. They foster relationships, manage communication, and coordinate events to promote the organization's image positively. They're the face of the company, ensuring its values align with community needs. But how do they build these crucial relationships?
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A community relations director works within an organization to foster strong ties with the community and increase revenue. Institutions like hospitals and universities may maintain a community relations position as part of their business strategy. Requirements can vary, but may include a college degree in marketing or public relations, and three to five years of experience in such work. Industry experience can also be useful, even if someone doesn’t have specific public relations training.

One aspect of the job involves clearly communicating with the local community. The community relations director can work on advertising campaigns to familiarize people with the types of products and services the company offers. This can increase interest in the company and may lead to more customers. In addition, outreach can include discussions about issues of mutual interest, like addressing parking shortages, to indicate a willingness to cooperate to resolve problems.

A community relations director may host seminars to discuss economic strategies with area professionals.
A community relations director may host seminars to discuss economic strategies with area professionals.

To create a positive image in the community, the community relations director may organize special events. These can include lectures, art exhibits, and performances. These can allow members of the community to visit the site, learn more about the company, and develop positive perceptions of the organization. Community relations can also include setting up grants and scholarships and giving back through charitable endeavors like funding downtown landscaping or helping libraries buy books.

A community relations director must have excellent communications skills and the ability to work with people from different backgrounds.
A community relations director must have excellent communications skills and the ability to work with people from different backgrounds.

Integration between an organization and the surrounding area can be part of the job for a community relations director. Institutions want to be welcomed in their regions, and also want to be perceived as an integral part of local politics and culture. These strong bonds can be helpful when they want to apply for rezoning, expansion, or other activities that could potentially impact the community. If people have a positive perception of an organization, they may be more supportive of these endeavors, while an isolated or standoffish company might meet with resistance. Locals could, for example, oppose the construction of a helicopter pad at a hospital so it could expand its emergency services.

Community relations directors engage with service groups working to improve the area.
Community relations directors engage with service groups working to improve the area.

This job requires excellent communication skills as well as the ability to work with people from a wide range of backgrounds. The community relations director needs to be active around the region, and it is important to follow ongoing political and social events. If problems do arise, fast responses can be critical, and may make the difference between a peaceful and equitable resolution and a protracted battle. Small gestures can make a big difference, and community relations directors need to be adept at making them. For instance, a university with a noise problem could install barriers to cut traveling sounds and appease neighbors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PracticalAdultInsights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PracticalAdultInsights researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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    • A community relations director may host seminars to discuss economic strategies with area professionals.
      By: Dmitry Goygel-Sokol
      A community relations director may host seminars to discuss economic strategies with area professionals.
    • A community relations director must have excellent communications skills and the ability to work with people from different backgrounds.
      By: Tissiana Kelley
      A community relations director must have excellent communications skills and the ability to work with people from different backgrounds.
    • Community relations directors engage with service groups working to improve the area.
      By: WavebreakmediaMicro
      Community relations directors engage with service groups working to improve the area.
    • A community relations director may offer sponsorship for youth sports teams or leagues.
      By: Dusan Kostic
      A community relations director may offer sponsorship for youth sports teams or leagues.