External Relations Manager

PEN America, a nonprofit organization with a growing public profile for its work at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks an experienced and skillful external relations manager to lead media relations and email marketing strategy. This is a key communications team role, and one that operates across our vibrant and creative organization to advance advocacy, celebrate literary excellence, and support public programming. The external relations manager will join PEN America at a point in our nearly 100-year history of defending writers under threat and campaigning for free expression rights when our initiatives globally and in the United States have never felt so urgent.

The external relations manager will increase awareness of PEN America with our core constituency in the literary and journalistic communities, among allies and influencers, and with the general public through integrated public relations campaigns that center on news coverage and email marketing. The ideal candidate will be equipped to develop and implement engagement strategies that position PEN America at the center of timely, news-breaking national and international conversations with a free expression focus across a range of verticals including human rights, First Amendment rights, journalism, literary writing, books, and publishing. The external relations manager should have demonstrated understanding of the mechanics, dynamics, and metrics of media relations and email marketing, and the ability to collaborate with team members and advise on campaign-specific engagement strategies.

The successful candidate is a proven and motivated innovator ready to be a fervent promotor of PEN America’s work and expertise. The position requires a fast-paced and assertive approach, a developing network of media contacts, and the capacity to address evolving demands and add new skills. The external relations manager will have the opportunity to stand at the forefront of efforts to defend the First Amendment, champion literary expression, and elevate diverse voices in pursuit of open discourse. Taking up this role will mean engaging regularly with major media outlets and embracing a wide range of tools to build constituencies, reach audiences, and advance messages. This position reports to the director of communications and requires responsiveness, availability, and flexibility, including some night and weekend work.


Media Relations

  • Develop and execute a strategy to continue expansion of PEN America’s media outreach, advancing PEN America’s mission through a heightened public profile for its advocacy, literary events, public programming, and other initiatives
  • Research reporters, editors, and news outlets and monitor coverage of PEN America issues to build and maintain press contact lists for outreach
  • Expand organizational relationships with wide range of journalists and editors engaged on the breadth of PEN America issues to facilitate coverage
  • Draft and distribute statements, press releases, and op-eds for PEN America initiatives as well as reactions to breaking news, and determine scheduling strategy to garner optimal engagement
  • Work independently to establish micro-outreach campaigns that result in exclusive press coverage of announcements, reports, and events
  • Serve as gatekeeper for all press interaction/queries, triage incoming press inquiries, and identify and coordinate with staff experts for interviews and rapid response statements
  • Support press activities for events, including logistics, preparation of press kits, and on-site press management
  • Prepare and analyze weekly press report, and disseminate media coverage through online channels
  • Leverage and maintain media database (currently, Muck Rack), press lists and outreach logs

Email Marketing

  • Oversee email marketing strategy, campaign development and management, audience targeting, and scheduling; ensure content meets editorial and messaging standards; and employ best practices for balancing distribution for optimized engagement
  • Manage cross-departmental email marketing schedule and advise on strategy based on calendar
  • Manage the Daily Alert on Rights and Expression and other outputs, ensuring preparation and dissemination of, by staff, consultants, and interns as required
  • Manage and continually update subscriber lists and segmented lists within the email marketing platform (currently, MailChimp)
  • Manage email list growth initiatives and respond to changes in email marketing trends and subscriber behavior to ensure maximum engagement with the least amount of unsubscribes
  • Participate in bi-weekly editorial meetings with departments

Strategy and Administration

  • Shape media and email marketing outreach strategy for major announcements, advocacy campaigns, and regular programming
  • Provide organization-wide training and counsel on press statement development, email marketing campaign development, and overall audience engagement
  • Support/co-manage communications team intern program including solicitation, hiring, onboarding, and mentoring 


  • 3-6 years progressive experience in public relations, communications, journalism, or related field; experience in nonprofit sector desirable but not required
  • Superior writing abilities to produce sharp, pithy text and headlines, and an obsessive knack for grammar
  • Ambitious problem diagnosis and creative problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work and thrive in a fast-paced environment, learn rapidly, and master diverse technologies and techniques
  • Professional demeanor and ability to work independently and in group settings
  • Excellent organizational skills and an ability to manage multiple tasks
  • Passion for literature, journalism, and/or international human rights

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

To Apply: Please submit a cover letter, resume, press-oriented writing sample, and the contact information for three references. Please submit the entire application to [email protected]. Please use “External Relations Manager” and your name as the subject of your email (for example, “External Relations Manager—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.