An Opportunity is available for a suitably qualified and experienced Development Outreach and Communications Specialist (DOCS) for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Malawi.
The Development Outreach and Communications Specialist (DOCS) works with USAID/Malawi leadership and staff to formulate Mission-wide messages and implement development outreach and communications efforts to increase awareness of USAID humanitarian and development assistance in Malawi. S/he formally reports to the Supervisory Program Officer in the USAID/Malawi Program Office but has frequent direct contact with senior Mission management and the U.S. Embassy Front Office.
The DOC Specialist coordinates with the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Section (PAS) to ensure consistency in messaging and strong coordination between USAID and other U. S. Government colleagues under the U.S. foreign assistance umbrella. The DOC Specialist also serves as the Mission’s primary liaison with USAID’s Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs (LPA) in Washington, D.C.
USAID’s contribution to Malawi’s development preceded the country’s independence in 1960 with English language and Math instruction. From 1966-1974, USAID’s first major project in Malawi was the construction of the Lakeshore Road. USAID/Malawi opened in Lilongwe in 1979. Programs improved agricultural development, private sector expansion, health and family planning services, transport infrastructure, and human resource development. In 1987, the Economic, Technical and Related Assistance Agreement was signed between the U.S. Government and the Government of Malawi. By 1991, this agreement exceeded $54 million. Throughout the 1990s, USAID programs made major progress in advancing girls’ education and empowering and assisting smallholder farmers to grow cash crops. In the early 1990s, human rights concerns led USAID and other donors to introduce democracy programs in Malawi. In 2006, Malawi was chosen as a focal country under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which was followed by its selection for the President’s Malaria Initiative, Global Health Initiative, Global Climate Change Initiative, and the Feed the Future food security initiative. Support for education also continued. In 2006, total funding managed by USAID/Malawi was $40 million. By 2015, it had reached $180 million (nearly two-thirds for health). In 2013, USAID/Malawi completed a five-year, $700 million Country Development Cooperation Strategy whose goal is to improve Malawians’ quality of life through three objectives for social development, sustainable livelihoods, and citizen rights and responsibilities. Critical to the achievement of the goal is integrating Mission programming geographically, across sectors, with other development partners, and with district governments.
DETAILED DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
- Lead USAID/Malawi’s development, outreach, and communications team, including the formal supervision of one professional Foreign Service National DOC Specialist and one professional EFM Editor.
- Ensure the overall quality and coherence of the USAID/Malawi’s communications and outreach products and initiatives.
- Lead the development and implementation of the Mission’s communications strategy and outreach efforts to local, regional and international audiences.
- Continuously support strengthened communication within USAID/Malawi and with other U.S. agencies represented at post.
- Promote a positive image of USAID’s assistance to Malawi in Health, Education, Economic Growth, and Democracy and Governance.
- External Communications
- Coordinate with the Public Affairs Section (PAS) and other U.S. agencies of the U.S. mission in Malawi (e.g. Centers for Disease Control, Peace Corps) and USAID implementing partners to achieve maximum exposure and understanding of U.S. humanitarian and development assistance efforts and initiatives in Malawi, as defined by the Chief of Mission and USAID Mission Director.
- Ensure a focused, coherent, and consistent message from all USAID staff and implementing partners.
- Serve as the USAID Mission’s key editor of speeches and other communications pieces; ensure proper clearance of speeches, press releases, and other communications pieces.
- In collaboration with PAS, advise the Mission Director and USAID staff on press and media relations.
- In collaboration with and under the guidance of PAS, serve as the principal USAID contact for representatives of the local and international media in Malawi to promote story ideas and feature stories on USAID programs. Clear international press interview requests with USAID/Malawi leadership, PAS and LPA.
- Organize and coordinate press conferences and media events to keep the media abreast of USAID/Malawi’s programs, working with PAS as needed. Organize media tours and facilitate contacts among members of the media and USAID implementers to encourage in-depth coverage of USAID programs in the local and international media.
- Draft/edit and clear press releases, speeches, and talking points; organize background briefings for media; compile and disseminate press packets; deal with protocol issues, site selection, staging, and logistical issues; identify and schedule speakers; liaise with U.S. and local government officials; draft/edit and clear briefing materials to the Ambassador (or his/her designates) and USAID’s Front Office when participation in events is warranted; provide on-site coordination of media. Follow-up with media to ensure coverage of public events.
- Review and edit press releases, speeches, and talking points and briefing materials drafted by implementing partners for USAID events.
- Oversee the design, development, updating, and dissemination of outreach materials to promote USAID programs to target audiences and the media. These materials include VIP or visitor welcome packets, fact sheets, success stories, flyers and digital content for brochures, the USAID/Malawi website and other social media platforms.
- Travel to the field (in collaboration with implementing partners) to capture success stories for dissemination through the USAID/Malawi website, outreach folders, and the media. Edit and clear all USAID and implementing partner success stories for posting on Agency internet and social media platforms.
- Provide USAID/Washington, the Embassy, and other stakeholders with information on USAID/Malawi programs and activities.
- Coordinate with Malawi Government public relations offices, maintaining good relations and advising on working with Malawi and international media.
- As directed by the Mission Director, Deputy Director, or the Supervisory Program Officer, and in collaboration with PAS, respond to inquiries from the general public, media, and other sources about USAID programs and projects.
- Internal Communications
- Monitor local and international press coverage, awareness, and attitudes concerning USAID programs and monitor effectiveness of the communications strategy. Provide feedback to Mission staff to inform ongoing activities and future programming.
- Serve as a key point of contact for visits by official visitors from the U.S. Embassy, USAID/Washington, Congress, and other USG agencies or entities, in cooperation with the appropriate technical office. Coordinate VIP site visits as necessary. Coordinate with the U.S. Embassy Front Office regarding schedules and logistics. Lead the preparation of briefing materials and other information products and processes for these visits.
- Lead partner communication monthly meetings and advise implementing partners on integrated outreach messages and campaigns.
- Serve as a resource on USAID/Malawi’s branding and marking compliance efforts. Provide guidance as required to USAID staff and implementing partners on developing appropriately branded public information and events.
- Promote the Mission’s use of its intranet site (InfoNet) for enhanced internal communications. Maintain the InfoNet DOC page, updating content as necessary; and maintain the external Implementing Partner communication portal with updated content and USAID communication and branding resources.
- Manage the agenda for the monthly all-staff meeting, a key platform for strengthening internal communications; participate in weekly senior staff meetings and interagency communications meetings.
- Manage USAID/Malawi outreach calendar and its distribution within USAID/Malawi and to Implementing Partners, PAS, other U.S. agencies, and other stakeholders, such as LPA in Washington.
REQUIRED MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS
- The candidate must have at least a Bachelor’s degree with significant coursework in relevant fields.
- Relevant fields include – but are not limited to – journalism, communications, public relations or affairs, international relations, international development, public administration, development/area studies, and social studies.
- Work Experience:
- The candidate must have at least five years’ relevant experience in a developing country.
- Relevant experience is defined as work in journalism, public relations, communications, and/or outreach.
- Language Proficiency:
- The candidate must be fluent in both spoken and written English.
SELECTION CRITERIA AND PROCESS
All other applicants will be scored, and then ranked based on the following selection criteria:
- Knowledge / Work Experience, including Leadership
- At least five years of progressively responsible experience in a similar position in international development or related fields, such as public relations or journalism.
- Demonstrated success in developing information and communications to respond to the interests of a variety of key audiences.
- Demonstrated success in designing and implementing effective public relations/communications campaigns for the general public as well as specific audiences.
- Demonstrated ability to plan and conduct media campaigns and programs.
- Demonstrated ability to develop and execute campaigns across various media platforms in both traditional and digital media adapted to a variety of audiences.
- Evidence of broad understanding of issues related to international development.
- Extensive writing and editing experience.
- Demonstrated ability to establish and maintain collegial relations with press and media contacts and exercise sound judgment in representing the USG while discussing program activities with the press and media.
- Experience working as a team member and providing leadership in the areas of his/her competencies.
- Broad strategic and operational planning experience, analytical ability, and the capacity to convert planning concepts into firm plans to meet a variety of contingencies.
- Previous work experience with the USG or another international development organization in an overseas context is highly desirable.
- Writing Skills
- Applicants must provide at least two writing samples with their application. The samples should be 350 to 1,500 words (preferably 750-1,000 words). They can be excerpts from larger articles or papers, and do not have to concern development or be written specifically for this solicitation. The samples should demonstrate the applicant’s ability to clearly and lucidly communicate complex ideas to the public. The samples must be by the applicant, co-written articles will not be accepted. Applicants should be prepared to take a written test.
- Teamwork / Communication Skills
- The application package (including the required summary statement) must provide evidence and examples of:
- Effective team leadership skills and the ability to work effectively as a member of a multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural team.
- Ability to make cogent arguments clearly and succinctly in written and oral presentations.
- Initiative and proactive engagement with colleagues to complete assigned tasks in accordance with agreed timetables.
- Ability to work independently, managing several activities at once, and to work under pressure to meet very short deadlines.
- Evidence of outstanding coordination and organizational skills.
- Education / Training
- A Bachelor’s degree, preferably in journalism, communications, international relations, international development, public administration, development/area studies, social studies or a related field.
- Training in one or more of the following areas: development outreach and communications, writing, journalism, website content management, presentation skills, or other areas that are relevant to the detailed duties and responsibilities outlined in Section III of the solicitation.
- Extensive experience with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and other desk top publishing tools. Experience with website development/maintenance and social media applications a plus.
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