Deputy Director, Media Relations

As PEN America marks its centenary, the organization is poised to dramatically expand its role in celebrating literature and defending free expression worldwide—and public communications is key to that endeavor. As an ambitious, growing nonprofit organization, PEN America seeks a seasoned communications professional to embark on the role of deputy director of media relations. The position will focus on raising the profile of PEN America and its groundbreaking work at the intersection of human rights and the written word through media outreach and the development and implementation of communications and marketing strategies.

Reporting to the director of communications and marketing, the deputy director serves as the department’s number two and chief media relations strategist, planning press rollouts of reports and initiatives, devising media strategies around marquee events, drafting press materials, and advising staff on how to advance our work and mission through the press. The deputy director also manages workflow for major projects and helps oversee editorial content across PEN America’s platforms. This is a full-time position based at PEN America’s New York City headquarters, where colleagues currently work in office three days a week and have the option of remote work the other two days, health conditions permitting. The role involves occasional weekend and evening work, especially during major events.

PEN America’s six-member communications department is core to advancing our mission, and this position offers significant opportunity to shape that work and grow professionally at a vibrant organization. This is a position for an experienced media relations professional who is eager to expand into content strategy and marketing. The ideal candidate has at least five years of experience in media relations and public communications for a nonprofit group, advocacy organization, government office, literary organization, or publisher—and has a deep commitment to literature, human rights, and free expression.


Media Relations Strategy and Execution (60 percent)

  • In partnership with the director, the deputy director will set public relations strategy for events, festivals, readings, publications, campaigns, open letters, and other initiatives
  • Draft, post, and disseminate press materials, including press releases, advisories, quick quotes, op-eds, editorial board memos, and pitch notes directly to members of the press, on, and/or PEN America’s social media channels
  • Cultivate and expand PEN America’s network of journalist relationships
  • Provide one-on-one and occasional group media trainings for staff
  • Oversee the lifecycle of op-eds, from ideation to drafting to editing to pitching
  • Monitor and provide regular readouts of performance

Project Oversight and Department Administration (20 percent)

  • Perform needs assessment for major projects and initiatives, working in close partnership with event, project, and advocacy teams
  • Draft project and campaign briefs in partnership with colleagues across the organization and develop work plans against them
  • Devise marketing plans for marquee events, event series, festivals, and related activities in New York or elsewhere in the country
  • Own workflow management within the department, ensuring that staff understand expectations and deliver on work in a timely way
  • Act as principal deputy to director, occasionally managing team meetings and managing cross-departmental meetings; assist in overseeing departmental budget

Editorial Oversight (20 percent)

  • Ensure that fresh, timely content that appeals to broad audiences appears on our website and social media regularly, editing incoming content and producing content as needed (Q&As, blog posts, podcast episodes, explainers, etc.)
  • In partnership with program teams, manage editorial calendar to ensure publications are produced to high standards and on time
  • Oversee copyediting and fact checking, maintaining high editorial standards and ensuring overall harmony of editorial product with PEN America’s mission and policy goals
  • Assist on website projects as needed; manage external writers, editors, and copyeditors


  • At least five years of progressively responsible experience in a media relations or public communications role, preferably with a nonprofit, government office, literary group, or publisher
  • Experience managing early-career staff and interns
  • Strong editorial judgment and deep knowledge of AP style
  • Experience using WordPress and comfort with working on the back-end of websites
  • Experience using Meltwater or similar media management software platforms
  • Understanding of social media’s role in public relations
  • Strong copyediting, traffic management, headline writing, and overall organizational skills. You should be highly organized with a meticulous attention to detail
  • Knowledge of or desire to learn content strategy, SEO, and governance
  • Demonstrated commitment to the PEN America mission and our advocacy for human rights, literature, and the freedom to write
  • Sense of humor; ability to stay calm in stressful situations

Salary and Benefits: PEN offers competitive compensation and benefits, commensurate with experience.

To Apply:

Please submit a cover letter and resume, unedited writing sample and the contact information for three references. Submit the entire application to One PDF is preferred. Please use “Deputy Director, Media Relations” with your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Deputy Director, Media Relations – Jane Doe”). Only complete applications will be reviewed and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

PEN America is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate in its hiring practices, and in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seeks a diverse applicant pool.

No phone calls, please.

About PEN America:

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.