Job Opening: Media Relations Specialist

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is seeking an experienced and creative media relations professional who possesses multimedia storytelling skills and a passion for science and technology. In this role, you will help elevate PNNL’s reputation among key audiences and build awareness of PNNL’s contributions to the Pacific Northwest region, the nation, and the global scientific enterprise. The media relations professional will draw upon knowledge of the national media landscape and its most important influencers to reinforce and expand PNNL’s existing network of media contacts. The successful candidate will develop a full understanding of the mission-critical science conducted at PNNL and combine that with their keen news judgment to prioritize stories that both reflect research priorities and stimulate interest in PNNL, its people, and their work.

Reporting to the newsroom manager and working within a dynamic news and digital media team, the media relations professional must build positive and trusted relationships through close coordination and adaptability to a rapidly changing daily news environment. This individual must be a self-starter who can evaluate the news value of scientific and technical innovations and transform highly technical subject matter into accessible and engaging storylines. The ideal candidate will fully leverage PNNL’s creative team to develop multimedia story packages that incorporate visual storytelling, including creation of original video, audio, and infographics.

The media relations professional must be flexible, resourceful, and deadline- and detail-oriented—all while maintaining professional decorum and a sense of humor.

  • Serves as the primary liaison between the Laboratory and national, regional, local and trade media including print, broadcast, social and web-based news organizations
  • Researches and writes news releases, media alerts, by-lined articles, OpEds, case studies, social media copy; produces media kits, manages News Center website, and develops other communications tools; for supporting inbound and outbound media relations and for helping to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and approval of these communications
  • Builds and maintains media contact database and develops/nurtures solid relationships with key media contacts
  • Will also pitch and place articles in relevant news, science, business, and trade media; handle media inquiries, prepare quotes/media statements; Serves as a liaison with scientific/executive staff to set up media interviews; helps to prepare briefing materials; ensures that interview subjects are prepared with Lab and topic-specific messaging and reporter’s interests; follows up with reporters as needed

Authority and Accountability:

  • Identify, build, and maintain relationships with key media influencers whose areas of coverage align with PNNL priorities.
  • Understand news media appetites, needs, and interests and develop and pitch compelling story ideas that result in earned media placements in targeted media outlets.
  • Provide expert counsel to key PNNL scientists and engineers to develop their interest in, and ability to, proactively engage with key news media.•Proactively offer counsel on opportunities to connect Laboratory leaders to national and international issues, public interests, and industry trends.
  • Propose creative ideas and new approaches to media outreach activities and strategy.
  • Research, write, and distribute news releases and other written media materials.
  • In partnership with the digital team, develop complete news packages that amplify the PNNL brand, align with goals, resonate with key audiences, and inspire desired actions.
  • Support the development of strategic messaging that engages key audiences through PNNL’s digital communications channels, including the website and PNNL social media channels.
  • Plan and conduct offsite visits to media offices to build or maintain relationships, discuss news story ideas, and suggest key Laboratory staff as expert resources for future stories.
  • Conceptualize and execute powerful multimedia storytelling, including copy writing and collaboration with team members to create audio, visual, and other multimedia content.
  • Analyze media trends to optimize and prioritize media engagement.
  • Use metrics to test and evaluate new media initiatives and the success of media campaigns

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Ability to study, understand, and reflect the perspective of PNNL’s key audiences and sponsors.
  • Demonstrated track record of forging and maintaining positive working relationships with local, regional, and national media contacts and of successful placement of news pitches in key national media outlets.
  • Evidence of interest in the roles science and technology play in current events and issues.
  • Ability to analyze difficult situations and then provide sound counsel to staff and management.
  • Demonstrated experience working in a fast-paced, collaborative, and ever-changing environment while maintaining humor, tact, and professionalism.

The hiring level will be determined based on the education, experience and skill set of the successful candidate based on the following:

Level III: Develops solutions to complex problems which require the regular use of ingenuity and creativity. Recognized by peers as competent in area of expertise. Manages projects of limited scope. May function as a project lead and give direction to other exempt and/or nonexempt staff.

Level IV: Demonstrates leadership by translating strategy into specific goals and objectives. Works on complex problems and provides solutions which are innovative and ingenious. Recognized by Managers and peers as competent. Having wide-ranging experience, uses professional concepts and organization objectives to resolve complex issues in creative and effective ways. Manages projects involving diverse tasks, teams, and organizations. Exercises judgment in selecting methods, techniques and evaluation criteria for obtaining results. Internal and external contacts often pertain to organization plans and objectives.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor's degree plus a minimum of five years of experience, or an advanced degree plus at least two years of experience
  • A trend-spotter who knows which stories are resonating with people, how to insert PNNL into timely discussions, and how to capture the imagination of PNNL audiences
  • Adept at assessing the newsworthiness of scientific findings
  • A track record of building consensus and working effectively across departments and organizations
  • Off-hour availability to respond to media inquiries involving deadlines and breaking news stories

Preferred Qualifications

  • Bachelor's degree plus seven years of experience or advanced degree plus four years of experience. Degree in communications, English, journalism, or related field preferred
  • Experience moving a mission forward in scientific or technical communications, particularly in a national laboratory or other complex research-based organization
  • Proven expertise in interviewing researchers and scientists; you are a gifted storyteller and an exceptional communicator who can spin complex science into simple terms and choose compelling complementary visual content
  • Keen ability to implement new strategies and stay on the cutting edge of news media industry trends
  • Knowledge of news media monitoring systems, such as Critical Mention or Meltwater
  • Strong expertise in social media, a demonstrated track record on Twitter and LinkedIn, and a clear understanding of content strategy

An excellent benefits and compensation package offered including medical, dental, prescription, life insurance, pension, savings plan, and a full relocation package.

To apply, please visit

Topics on the Beat: