Division Public Relations Chair Job Description

Summary

The person in this position is responsible for generating public awareness for their ACS Technical Division’s activities, awards and events that could be of interest to the general public, scientists and engineers, both prospective and current members of the division, current and potential funding sponsors, and other targeted audiences. This is accomplished by developing an understanding of the needs of the news media and target audiences; identifying Division news, events, and other information that would interest the public; and alerting the media to these events, etc., in order to encourage news coverage. PR Chairs should also identify Web sites and social media that would be interested in carrying information about the Division’s activities. The ACS national office offers tools and guidance to help Division PR Chairs carry out this role.

The Division Public Relations Chair is encouraged to find other members to assist in this effort and thereby be part of a Division PR Committee. It is recommended that the Division PR Chair sit on the Division’s executive committee in order to be aware of upcoming events, activities, etc., in time to seek publicity and public participation if appropriate.

The suggested term for this position is three years, during which time a successor should be identified and trained.

Qualifications

  • Willingness to make calls to reporters to ‘pitch’ story ideas and acquaint them with activities of the Division, such as awards, grants, election of officers, and other activities of potential interest to the public.
  • Persistence, recognizing that it often takes multiple attempts to come up with a story that will ‘sell.’
  • Good writing and verbal communication skills and the ability to be concise—identifying the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of your Division activities and describing the relevance and interest to the public.
  • Desire to share one’s own personal passion for chemistry and to convey the value of chemistry to the public.
  • Good organizational and people skills.

Responsibilities

  1. Create an inventory of Division activities for the year, especially those that could have public interest, such as awards and grants (given or received by the Division), announcement of new officers, collaborations with other organizations, etc. (see sample activities list below)
  2. Develop media lists of news outlets (traditional and online) and reporters who would be interested in the activities, and identify social media where information about these activities could be posted and shared.
  3. Create a PR plan, identifying which activities will be publicized, and when.
  4. Write and distribute press releases and other publicity materials with pertinent details about the activities.
  5. Identify reporters likely to cover Division news and be responsive to their needs concerning deadlines and requests for technical expertise.
  6. When news interviews are anticipated, involve Division Chair or his/her designee and help prepare appropriate, consistent messages about the Division, chemists, and chemistry.
  7. Communicate with ACS National concerning Division PR activities and results. Contact the ACS Office of Public Affairs at 202-872-4400 or 800-227-5558, ext. 4400, for assistance and resources.

Sample Division Calendar of Newsworthy Events

Each of these events has public appeal and could generate news coverage in some media outlets. It is not expected that a Division will have something every month, but there are many opportunities for every Division to make news, such as:

January
Announcement of new officers

February
Announcement of Division member who is theme organizer for upcoming national meeting

March
Salutes to Excellence presentation by the Division to an individual or group

April
Announcement of Division-sponsored meeting/workshop

May
Innovative Project Grant—announce when Division wins it and generate another story later to describe what was accomplished

June
Announcement of sponsors for Division symposia at national or regional meetings (Coordinate with sponsors)

July
Announcement of Division member who is theme organizer for upcoming national or regional meeting

Aug/Sept
Division wins ChemLuminary Award

September
Announcement of collaboration with other organizations on meeting/workshop

October
Announcement of winner of Division’s outstanding member award or other division-sponsored award

November
Announcement of Division-sponsored public outreach web site

December
Innovative Projects Grant award