In line with its Global Communications Strategy, UNHCR requires skilled communications professionals to conceive and execute a range of activities that help us lead the narrative on forced displacement, generate empathy and mobilize action. This body of work spans communications strategy and coordination, news and media relations, multimedia content production, social media engagement, Goodwill Ambassadors and other influencers, public outreach and campaigns, fundraising, analytics and brand.
UNHCR¿s Senior Communications Officers need to cultivate a keen understanding of our target audiences¿including an up-to-the-minute grasp of the methods and tone of voice that resonate deeply, win trust and spark quality engagement. They must be vigilant about editorial and journalistic standards, attentive to protection concerns and political sensitivities, and focused on communicating successfully with key demographics. These audiences will vary by location, language and platform, among other factors, as well as whether the aim is to inform, advocate or raise funds.
Senior Communications Officers¿ functions, working relationships and skills specializations differ depending on language, location, grade, and whether they sit within a country operation, a regional bureau or the Global Communications Service. UNHCR¿s primary target audiences include public, media and policymakers, while our main partners and influencers include peers and private sector, trusted figures and our own workforce. Some communicators will focus mainly on news and media relations, for example, while others will produce multimedia content, manage social media accounts or lead advocacy campaigns. Forging partnerships with media outlets that reach target audiences is a central role for all Senior Communications Officers.
All Senior Communications Officers are expected to work strategically in support of UNHCR¿s operational and communications objectives for their geographic area of responsibility (AoR) as well as global priorities. Communications approaches should reflect our core values as an organization that is caring, trustworthy, proactive, outcome-focused and responsive. This will reinforce UNHCR¿s role as the lead agency that protects refugees, internally displaced and stateless people and mobilizes action to provide solutions.¿
All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core, functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR¿s core values of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity.
- Develop and implement communications strategies for countries, situations and special projects; identify thematic priorities and target audiences to meet UNHCR¿s global communications objectives.
- Monitor news and popular trends to insert UNHCR¿s messaging into ongoing conversations; identify key moments for proactive communications.
- Forge strategic partnerships with individuals and organizations who can help produce and promote UNHCR content, activities and messaging as well as provide research insights to improve communications; promote the work of engaged businesses and civil society actors.
- Develop news-driven and authoritative content to lead the narrative on forced displacement and show UNHCR¿s impact (e.g. interviews, press releases, flagship reports, speeches), create emotive storytelling to generate empathy (e.g. stories, multimedia content) and mobilize action by signposting concrete steps people can take to help refugees (e.g. digital diplomacy, action-driven campaigns, fundraising).
- Ensure content created reaches maximum impact by developing strategies for distribution from the outset, boosting the visibility of our content on relevant UNHCR channels and placing it on external channels.
Closely monitor the implementation of communications projects and adjust accordingly. Benchmark the results of communications projects against set success indicators; build on communications successes.
Additional duties for news and media roles:
- Strategically lead UNHCR¿s media relations work for designated AoR and thematic issues, working with international and national media, acting as a UNHCR spokesperson for their respective areas, doing interviews, speaking on behalf of the Organization at press events, handling media queries and providing comment. Maintaining close coordination with focal points in headquarters, bureaux, and country offices.
- Working in collaboration with Senior Management and assigned focal points, lead development and implementation of communications strategies for the assigned AoR, ensuring close alignment with UNHCR¿s Global Communications Strategy.
- Develop in-depth expertise on their assigned AoR and issues, proposing and developing communications/advocacy initiatives, plans and messaging, securing internal consensus for these, and overseeing rapid and timely implementation.
- Ensure UNHCR¿s leading share of voice in a variety of news and social media on all matters relating to refugees and others under the Organization¿s duty of care, by proposing initiatives, and using reactive, opportunistic and proactive communications.
- Draft, research, prepare, fact check, sub-edit and secure clearances for media releases (including reports, media briefing notes, fact sheets, statements and press releases), keeping in mind needs of media and public.
- Engage with media and public on social media in support of UNHCR¿s global advocacy objectives on behalf of refugees, the internally displaced and stateless people.
- Ensure messaging and other communications guidance is regularly updated and shared in a timely manner with other communications staff and UNHCR managers and representatives.
- Provide expert communications advice to senior staff, including on strategies and media relations tactics, as needed. Propose communications initiatives, secure internal support for them, and once agreed see them to completion
- Undertake missions and field trips with media and other official visitors, as well as short-notice missions to humanitarian emergencies and other situations as required, and represent UNHCR at media and public events.
- Facilitate the production of multimedia content for the assigned AoR, working with the Content Production Section within UNHCR¿s Global Communications Service as well as staff and freelance contributors.
- Seek opportunities for collaborative advocacy with partners, while ensuring UNHCR¿s distinct positioning and brand visibility.
- Ensure that media contact lists are regularly updated and that effective distribution mechanisms are in place for time-dependent communications products including press releases and statements.
- Ensure highest standards of accuracy and editorial content in all external outputs. Offer editorial guidance and coordinate training activities for communications staff;
Continually maintain and upgrade communications skills, keeping abreast of emerging platforms and tools, and systematically reviewing media impact results and other measurement tools for learning purposes.
Additional duties for news and media roles within the Global Communications Service
- Oversee coordination of communications work for their designated regions and thematic issues, working closely with communications staff in bureaux and country offices and in collaboration with the senior communications officers/advisers in that region.
- Manage a wide network of relationships at all levels across bureaux, divisions and offices (including the Executive Office) to ensure timely internal information sharing as a foundation for grounded communications, and to build consensus around communications proposals.
Maintain close involvement in communications recruitment and training needs for assigned regions, keeping in mind UNHCR¿s goals of employing and retaining the world¿s leading humanitarian communications expertise.
Additional duties for news and media roles within Country Offices
- Act as the primary interface on communications matters between their country office and the Global Communications Service.
- Supervise and oversee country communications team and manage related budgetary resources.
Act as the lead for crisis communications work for countries in their region, alerting the GCS/News & Media Section¿s crisis communications lead to risk issues and ensuring close coordination.
Additional duties for news and media roles within Regional Bureaux
- Serve as primary liaison and interface for advocacy and communications matters between the Bureau and the Global Communications Service. Establish for the Bureau global positioning and advocacy priorities and timelines for these in consultation with Senior Management and assigned focal point.
- Advocate within Bureau for a positive communications culture that takes into account the political and protection landscapes for country operations and UNHCR¿s global positioning needs.
- Supervise and oversee country and regional communications teams and manage related budgetary resources.
Perform other related duties as required.
Years of Experience / Degree Level
For P4/NOD – 9 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 8 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 7 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree
Field(s) of Education
Journalism; International Relations; Political Science;
Communications; Public Information; Media;
Film / Video; or other relevant field.
(Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk* are essential)
Certificates and/or Licenses
Relevant Job Experience
Minimum 7 years of professional experience in journalism and/or communications, mainly at international level.
Depending on the specific role, the following areas of experience may be essential or desirable: Experience developing and implementing communications strategies. Strong social media presence. Experience working on advocacy campaigns. Experience working with goodwill ambassadors and other high-profile influencers. Experience with brand management. Experience with measurement and evaluation, especially providing analysis of media coverage, social media engagement, web traffic, etc. Experience reporting, writing, editing for magazines, newspapers and websites. Experience using digital asset management systems. Experience with digital analytics and performance reporting.
CO-Drafting and Documentation
CO-International Media Contacts
CO-Preparation of key messages/talking points/speeches
CO-Video production for digital platforms (including news organizations)
CO-Journalism (incl. print, broadcast, photography, video, layout & graphics)
CO-Digital content production
(Functional Skills marked with an asterisk* are essential)
For International Professional and Field Service jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English.
For National Professional jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English and local language.
For General Service jobs: Knowledge of English and/or UN working language of the duty station if not English.
All UNHCR workforce members must individually and collectively, contribute towards a working environment where each person feels safe, and empowered to perform their duties. This includes by demonstrating no tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, harassment including sexual harassment, sexism, gender inequality, discrimination and abuse of power.
As individuals and as managers, all must be proactive in preventing and responding to inappropriate conduct, support ongoing dialogue on these matters and speaking up and seeking guidance and support from relevant UNHCR resources when these issues arise.
This is a Standard Job Description for all UNHCR jobs with this job title and grade level. The Operational Context may contain additional essential and/or desirable qualifications relating to the specific operation and/or position. Any such requirements are incorporated by reference in this Job Description and will be considered for the screening, shortlisting and selection of candidates.
C001L3 – Accountability Level 3
C002L3 – Teamwork & Collaboration Level 3
C003L3 – Communication Level 3
C004L3 – Commitment to Continuous Learning Level 3
C005L3 – Client & Result Orientation Level 3
C006L3 – Organizational Awareness Level 3
M001L3 – Empowering and Building Trust Level 3
M005L3 – Leadership Level 3
M004L3 – Strategic Planning and Vision Level 3
M003L3 – Judgement and Decision Making Level 3
X001L3 – Analytical Thinking Level 3
X002L3 – Innovation and Creativity Level 3
X007L3 – Political Awareness Level 3
How to apply
For a full job description and to apply, interested candidates are requested to visit the UNHCR career page – click on the Vacancies tab and enter job ID 33403.
The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Please note that UNHCR does not charge a fee at any stage of its recruitment process (application, interview, meeting, travelling, processing, training or any other fees).
Please note that the closing date for positions advertised in the Addendum 3 to September 2021 Compendium is Thursday 10 February 2022 (midnight Geneva time).