Position Profile

Job Title:  Assistant Communications Director

Work Unit:  Ministry Support Services/Communications

Ministry:  Alberta Advanced Education

Competition Number:  1041577

Date:  April 2017

Position Summary


Reporting to the Communications Director, the Assistant Communications Director provides leadership and direction to a team of communications professionals and administrative staff delivering communications services for the assigned ministry. The communications team is the ministry's key resource for public and internal communications: writing, media relations, issues management, communications planning, advertising and publication of communications materials. Coordination both within the assigned ministry and with other ministries is key.

The Assistant Director develops, monitors and maintains systems, processes, and policies to ensure that communications services are delivered efficiently and effectively and meet Public Affairs Bureau and ministry objectives and requirements. This position also plays a key role in issues management by identifying potential issues, flagging issues identified by media and stakeholders, and coordinating messages and methods of response for the Minister, department executive and senior management.

The Assistant Director supports ministry planning by participating on various internal and external committees and working groups to represent the ministry's needs and interests and support government-wide communications strategies. This position also acts as the Communications Director when he/she is away from the office.

Specific Accountabilities


Coordinates and promotes the effective and efficient delivery of ministry communications programs, products and services to meet the information needs of Albertans.

  • Develops, implements and evaluates communications strategies
  • Provides communications advice and guidance to line managers and program staff in project planning
  • Participates in internal and external committees and working groups to provide strategic communications input and direction to project planning or cross-government initiatives
  • Monitors and evaluates performance standards in relation to goals of the department, the Public Affairs Bureau and government

Leads a team of communications professionals and administrative staff

  • Works with the Director to provide interpretation of strategic directions, and develops communications plans for implementation
  • Works with the Director to guide the strategic communications planning process
  • Outlines expected standards and results, and provides feedback on ideas, and performance
  • Provides opportunities for staff development and team building
  • Coaches and mentors staff to further develop their knowledge, skills and abilities

Coordinates media relations and issues management for the ministry

  • Oversees media and social media monitoring, conducts environmental scans and monitors public perception to identify issues, potential issues, opportunities and trends
  • Works with the Director to develop strategies and responses to address ministry issues and opportunities
  • Coordinates responses to external issues/inquiries for the Minister, Deputy Minister and senior management of the department through preparation of briefing and background materials and issues/inquiry responses
  • Provides advice and guidance to ministry and branch staff in project planning and issues resolution
  • In consultation with the director, provides advice to press secretary for proactive and reactive media relations

Coordinates the timely and appropriate preparation of print and electronic communications materials such as news releases, speeches, brochures, newsletters, videos, social media and websites

  • Gives direction on material expectations in terms of quantity, quality, and timing
  • Oversees deadlines and budgets
  • Reviews materials for quality, accuracy, timeliness, effectiveness and adherence to the GoA brand, style and visual identity guidelines

Supports corporate internal communications efforts in the ministry

  • Assists the Communications Director in advising the Minister, Deputy Minister and other ministry executive team members
  • Develops, oversees, and implements internal communications plans and research
  • Coordinates the timely and appropriate preparation of print and electronic internal communications materials

Assists with implementing operational policies and systems

  • Organizes branch resources to meet objectives, including managing staff projects and client assignments, recruiting permanent, temporary or contracted staff, and adjusting budget allocations to meet priorities
  • Reviews/approves invoices and expense claims

Knowledge / Experience

  • Degree or diploma in communications, public relations, journalism,  English or a related field and at least six years' related experience
  • Strong strategic communications planning and issues management skills Strong media relations skills
  • Strong project management skills
  • Strong knowledge of different communication tools and products such as media relations, social media, print and graphic design, advertising
  • Considerable knowledge of writing styles, including principles of plain language and Canadian Press Style Guides, to prepare and edit a variety of written materials including speeches, brochures and briefing material
  • Knowledge of the public consultation process
  • Understanding of Alberta political system, government decision-making processes and structure
  • Understanding of the business of the department including knowledge of various stakeholder groups and familiarity with issues, trends and directions
  • Knowledge of Government of Alberta Visual Identity Guidelines and understanding of print and graphic design principles and visual presentation styles
  • Knowledge of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation, policies, and procedures
  • Knowledge of Public Affairs Bureau standards, policies and procedures
  • Understanding of accounting and financial reporting
  • Leadership, management/supervisory and team-building skills

Leadership and Business Know-How


This position provides direction to the communications team of Public Affairs Officers and Administrative Support staff to provide communications support to the department. The Assistant Director provides orientation and training for new staff to ensure that staff are fully trained and knowledgeable of the department's policies and procedures, government roles and responsibilities, and Public Affairs Bureau policies and procedures.

The Assistant Communications Director monitors work processes and assignments to ensure cost effectiveness of communications products, consistency in messaging across the department, and efficiency in meeting priorities and delivering results.

This position is responsible for coordination of cross-government  initiatives, ensuring that information is communicated to the right people at the right time and department announcements are appropriately timed.

The Assistant Communications Director works closely with the Communications Director to provide leadership on communications strategies and activities to support the department's business plan goals and expected outcomes.

Problem Solving


The Assistant Communications Director is relied upon to provide creative solutions to effectively communicate department messages within budget constraints and, often, under tight timelines. Considerable innovation is required to recommend strategic communications solutions that meet the needs of the department, clients and stakeholders, and that are consistent with government directions and Public Affairs Bureau policies and standards.

This position also must manage expectations with clients, including managers, the deputy minister, minister and the PAB, in the delivery of communications plans and products.

Difficult or Challenging Situations and Complex Problems:

The increasing use of social media and the 24-7 news environment presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities in communications. There is a growing need for quick dissemination of accurate information on government programs and services.

Strong analytical skills are used to synthesize a diversity of information, to anticipate the impact of department actions/initiatives, to recommend proactive approaches and develop appropriate strategies to address issues and opportunities, and to profile the department with its key stakeholders. This is often done within very tight timelines.

There are also challenges in coordinating issue responses, program announcements, etc. among a large group of ministries with a diverse set of positions and stakeholders.

This position may encounter challenges in balancing work loads and developing expertise of staff when faced with the large demand for communications support in the ministry across a number of mediums and needs (writing, internal communications, social media, etc.).

Relationships / Contacts

Clients Frequency Nature and Purpose of Contact

Public Affairs Officers and administrative staff


Provide direction, discuss work assignments, identify emerging issues and opportunities, and coordinate responses.

Minister's office, Deputy Minister's office, and Communications Director


Ensure consistency of approach and response.

Assistant Deputy Ministers

Regular contact

Provide consultation and advice to address issues and opportunities.

Program managers and staff

Regular contact

Exchange information and to provide advice and consultation on new program initiatives and management of issues and opportunities.

Communications staff in other departments

Regular contact

Provide information and support.

Human Resources

As required

Interpretation of collective agreement and GoA HR Directives, policies and programs and to seek assistance or advice on employee relations issues, training and recruitment and job evaluation.

Public Affairs Bureau

Regular contact

To exchange information and develop communications approaches, seek specialized expertise and assistance (i.e. web technology support, graphics and print design and issues identification.



Regular contact

Provide information about the ministry's policies, programs and initiatives and respond to issues.


Occasional contact

Provide ministry information and support the Director in maintaining

Impact and Magnitude of Job (Scope)


Communications advice and solutions provided by this position play a significant role in how the department is perceived by its clients and stakeholders and, ultimately, by the public. Decisions made and actions taken by this position impact the effectiveness with which the ministry communicates with its audiences. By engaging in coordination within the ministry and with other ministries on projects, issues and opportunities, this position also contributes to how government is perceived by the public and helps meet the information needs of Albertans.

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