Assistant Director Strategic Communications

Wisconsin Historical Foundation

Who We Are:

The Wisconsin Historical Foundation exists to support the Wisconsin Historical Society and further their mission of collecting, preserving, and sharing history. As a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, the Foundation receives grants and private contributions benefiting the Society, administers the membership program, and provides marketing and communications services for the Society.

Position Details

Assistant Director Strategic Communications
Southwest Wisconsin
Madison, WI

Position Overview:

The Assistant Director Strategic Communications is an experienced, creative and versatile leader who is responsible for developing and executing comprehensive, integrated communications strategies that align with organizational branding and deliver on goals. This role is responsible for the overall direction and management of a team of public relations, content and social media professionals charged with growing a national presence for the Wisconsin Historical Society. Additional responsibilities include engaging with and providing strategic, proactive communications consultation at the executive level, building productive relationships with key community influencers and members of the media, and developing and implementing communications strategies to support federal, state, local government, and tribal advocacy plans.

The Assistant Director Strategic Communications works collaboratively with colleagues across the organization to ensure all channel messaging consistently amplifies our reach, positively leverages our brand and supports near-term opportunities and long-term growth strategies that expand market share. This role also oversees development and execution of crisis communication plans and reputation management.

Primary Duties:

Relationship Building

  • Actively cultivate and manage high-profile press and influencer relationships to ensure coverage on issues of strategic importance.
  • Create and maintain relationships with key business leaders and industry peers to increase visibility and support for the advancement of Society initiatives and campaigns.
  • Work collaboratively with Society leadership, marketing, and internal communications functions to align messaging, brand voice, and creative strategy around common priorities and goals.


  • Set long-term public communications strategy to grow the Society as a nationally-renowned history organization and oversee all legislative, public relations, and social media communication activity and reputation management.
  • Develop and execute annual proactive content strategy and engagement plans to meet progressively aggressive media goals.
  • Develop a comprehensive, short- and long-term strategy to position WHS, and WHS experts, as thought leaders in the field; establish WHS nationally as the go-to organization for Wisconsin and North American history.
  • Proactively identify challenges and emerging issues, including public sector, faced by our organization and industry. Determine opportunities to address those challenges and issues through the development of annual and project-based communication plans with measurable outcomes.


  • Provide expert communications counsel to members of the Society and Foundation’s leadership teams (and regularly develop and write complex communications such as white papers, speeches, briefing papers, op-eds, etc. to advance Society and Foundation goals). 
  • Provide regular briefings to leadership about industry sector issues and opportunities, as well as the Society’s positioning across news, social media outlets, etc.
  • Empower and inspire the work of the communications team (Public Relations and Content Manager and Social Media Manager).

Creating and Disseminating

  • Monitor industry and market trends and identify original and compelling themes/storylines to incorporate into communications.
  • Develop Crisis Response Plans/Media Scenario Planning; manage issues to maintain the Society’s reputation.
  • Prioritize media opportunities and strategic outreach. Develop or direct the development of talking points, media pitches, releases and advisories, story packages etc. to secure coverage.
  • Develop and maintain critical communications infrastructure to position the Society to proactively respond to media inquiries, speed of culture events, and key media events. 
  • Develop and train the Society’s media engagement team and enforce brand voice in all external communications.
  • Serve as Society’s spokesperson on key media events.
  • Direct dynamic owned media campaigns to ensure social media activity thoroughly integrates with annual marketing plans, generates audience growth, follows brand voice, and opens doors for organizational partnerships.
  • Direct integrated content campaigns that leverage key messaging and brand, including blogs, white papers, podcasts, video, etc.
  • Manage reporting of earned/owned media metrics. Utilize data to ensure strategy is on track to identify areas of success and opportunity, and to meet all KPIs.

Skills & Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in communications, marketing, journalism, public affairs, English, or related field preferred, with a graduate degree desirable.
  • Minimum 7-10 years of experience as a full-time communications, marketing, or public relations professional with demonstrated success.
  • 3+ years of supervisory experience leading a communications, marketing or public relations team.
  • Proven ability to develop and lead strategic initiatives, including comprehensive, integrated communications plans.
  • Demonstrated project management and organizational skills.
  • Ability to collect, analyze, and effectively apply data against KPIs from a diverse set of inputs. 
  • Exceptional writing, editing and verbal skills. Knowledge of AP style.
  • Experience providing communications/public relations consult at the leadership level, including issues management, media training and content development.
  • Deep experience in strategic media relations and relationship building that leads to measurable results.
  • Demonstrated experience in the development of crisis communications/reputation management plans.
  • Proven experience developing and/or directing development of strategic, integrated multichannel content plans.
  • A proven understanding of a story and the ability to package and repurpose information, events and research findings across channels and platforms.
  • Demonstrated experience developing and or directing the development of social media content strategies that align with brand while growing reach and reputation.
  • Strong understanding of branding principles and ability to execute brand-building strategies. 
  • Experience in issue advocacy communications and/or with government agencies and political leaders is a plus.
  • Ability to position communications discussions at both the strategic and tactical levels.
  • Ability to advance core values through the establishment of positive, respectful relationships with all internal and external stakeholders.
  • Strong management skills, ability to work independently and to manage a team, plus multiple ongoing projects.
  • Working knowledge of media relations software and social media platforms.
  • Proficiency in MS Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.) 

Physical Demands:

This position requires the ability to do one or more of the following throughout the day: frequently remain in a stationary position for long periods of time, move about in an office environment, and operate a computer and telephone.

Application Details:

This is a full-time position with an excellent benefits package that includes health insurance. Pay will be dependent upon qualifications and experience. Hybrid work schedule available.

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