Place in organisation
The Emergency Communications Advisor reports to the Operational Centre Amsterdam (OCA) Communications Coordinator (Management line) with functional reporting line to the OCA Emergency Department and OCA Emergency Coordinators in emergency field missions/projects.
The Emergency Communications Advisor coordinates with the OCA Communications Advisors, as well as intersectionally with Communications Advisers from other MSF sections and the global MSF Communications network. Provides support to Field Communications Managers/Officers when appropriate and in coordination with the corresponding OCA Communications Advisor for OCA’s regular projects in a given country or context.
Objectives of position
The Emergency Communication Advisor strategically supports Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) OCA as an all-round communications specialist (field-based position with visits to the headquarters in Amsterdam). S/he/they is permanently 'on-call' to cover emergency communications needs. Upon request of the Operational Communications Coordinator, she/he/they take/s any specific project and location, including covering temporarily for other OCA Communication Advisors or field communications staff.
The Emergency Communication Advisor, managed by the Operational Communications Coordinator, works in close proximity with the MSF OCA Emergency Department. The Emergency Department lead and manage humanitarian interventions in contexts with acute humanitarian and medical needs at the outset of crises, and when an immediate and often massive response is needed. Its teams can intervene following outbreaks of conflicts, diseases or natural disasters, or reinforce existing missions facing a steep increase in activities. In these crucial moments, MSF needs to reinforce public communication in support of our operations. The Emergency Communication Advisor will be a focal point on the ground for OCA and may at times play an intersectional role, coordinating with other MSF operating centres in a given context. The person in this position is expected to work internationally with MSF’s emergency teams for approximately 70% of the time.
- Strategy definition - To develop operational emergency communications strategies which include context analysis, risk analysis, audience segmentation, key messages and definition of adequate tools.
- Stakeholder management – Internal: To advise the OCA Emergency Department, emergency health advisers, security advisers, intersectional counterparts, media/social media hubs on the dilemmas, risks, crisis and benefits of emergency operational communications initiatives – External: To engage with journalists and other influencers (i.e. INGOs, academics) on MSF’s public position.
- Operational advice – To work closely with the OCA Emergency Department and lead on emergency operational communications strategies to support the overall emergency mission strategy; To join the crisis cell (field or HQ) as “comms focal point”, one of the 5 permanent CIMT positions, in the event of the critical incident in an emergency project.
- Field support – In coordination with the OCA Communications Advisors, guide and support field comms teams; to travel regularly to field missions for support/evaluation visits and gap fill as per needs.
Day in the life of an Emergency Communications Advisor
As the emergency communications advisor, you will be a key player in MSF's efforts to communicate about emergencies. As the organization responds to humanitarian crises and disasters, from earthquakes and floods to epidemics and armed conflicts, you will advise staff on how to communicate publicly about urgent humanitarian and medical needs and about MSF's activities. You will travel to places affected by disasters, sometimes on short notice, and coordinate MSF's written and audiovisual communications materials and media interviews from the locations where MSF is responding. You will uphold MSF's commitment to bearing witness to the difficult realities affecting the people we serve, raising the organisation's voice on issues of vital importance.
The Emergency CA:
- Is responsible for the development of overarching emergency communications strategies specific to the OCA Emergency Department’s interventions, ensuring these strategies align with the needs in the field and with the regular mission country frameworks.
- Develops and formulates, in coordination with OCA Emergency Coordinators and OCA Emergency Department, a communication strategy that includes digital media and audio visual, for external communications focusing on various emergency communications, including; proactive and reactive communications and public advocacy; and internal guidance.
- Analyses the contexts in which the OCA Emergency Department intervenes, taking part in the emergency teams and platforms both at field and HQ levels.
- Drafts and disseminates the external material e.g., press releases, articles, AV productions, reports and other forms of publications including briefing documents, lines of response and talking points.
- Coordinates, compiles and distributes emergency project and thematic information for regional and international media.
- Identifies potential strategic alliances with trusted media contacts for mutually beneficial objectives. e.g., when we want to bring visibility to an issue but MSF cannot risk being front and centre of the coverage.
- Advises MSF Emergency Department, Emergency Coordinators in the mission/project and the wider MSF network about communication strategies, risks and tactics for emergency interventions and, in coordination with the OCA Communications Advisors, contributes to the regular communication policies, plans and strategies.
- Informs, involves and consults all Home Societies, fundraising departments and the wider MSF network including the International Office (IO) and Hubs about OCA comms plans for its emergency interventions, exchanging information and feeding material.
- Provides/coordinates additional media monitoring support to the field team at times of heightened media interest in crisis moments or throughout a critical incident. Scans upcoming relevant dates/events and sets up alerts in order to prepare scenario planning e.g., impact of upcoming elections.
- Maintains regular contact with media following the OCA Emergency Department contexts, and, in coordination with the OCA Communications Advisors, liaises with the regular field communications staff to ensure a record of any meetings and all information exchanged is relayed to the OCA Emergency Department and Emergency Coordinators to support context analysis.
- In coordination with the OCA Communications Advisors and when needed, supports field communications staff in producing briefing documents and communication guidelines for OCA emergency interventions.
- Joins the Crisis Incident Management Team (CIMT) as the communications focal point during critical incidents in OCA emergency interventions – leading the comms strategy and advising the CIMT leader and Field Incident Management Team (FIMT) for the communications actions and decisions, as well as advising and providing guidance to the wider MSF network (including GDs and other directors).
Desirable: University degree in journalism, communications, international relations, social sciences or related university degree.
- Essential: At least five years’ experience working in communications, journalism or public relations, communicating on challenging contexts or humanitarian crises at national or international level;
- Essential: At least 18 months field experience;
- Essential: Excellent writing and editing skills, with an ability to synthesise complex and sensitive information/material for communications content production;
- Essential: Knowledge of digital and social media, as well as media monitoring;
- Essential: Experience with MSF or other international NGOs/organisations in developing countries. Experience working in an international environment;
- Essential: Genuine interest in, and commitment to the humanitarian principles of MSF;
- Desirable: MSF experience;
- Desirable: Knowledge or understanding of MSF mandate and goals in emergency response relief or experience in similar positions in the international development or humanitarian sectors;
- Desirable: Experience in planning and implementing communications strategies in an emergency setting, including working with international and national media outlets.
- Ability to develop, implement and evaluate communications strategies in emergencies;
- Proven skills in the development and implementation of communications products (such as press releases, articles, internal guidance, AV and digital materials) and tactics, including relations with the media/press;
- Demonstrated diplomatic and negotiation skills to work among highly busy colleagues in a fast-paced environment;
- Excellent interpersonal skills complemented by the ability to conceptualise ideas and promote consensus;
- Knowledge of the impact of emergencies and crises on people;
- Ability to propose creative solutions and to make innovative proposals as related to communication at the local community, national and global levels;
- Demonstrated understanding of digital and social media;
- Excellent communication skills, with proven ability to write in English in a clear and concise manner.
English (fluency in written and oral) essential. Command of other languages such as French or Arabic are highly desirable.
Essential computer literacy (word, excel and digital media).