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Environmental Communications Officer
Environmental communications officers disseminate information on environmental issues and events on behalf of their organizations. They can be involved in long-term activities, such as public information and education campaigns, as well as short-term activities, such as responding to a toxic spill. Environmental communications officers use their skills in writing, design, media relations, and networking to educate the public and encourage environmental protection and conservation.
At a glanceImagine you are standing at the back of a crowded press room, a sea of television cameras, spotlights, microphones, and notepads between you and your boss at the front. You are an environmental communications officer for a local conservation agency and your boss, the agency?s president, is about to make an official statement on the recent municipal decision to halt development near a sensitive wetland. You know exactly what the statement will say because you are the person who wrote it.As the conservation agency's environmental communications officer, you began working on this controversial wetlands development almost two years ago, when you first learned that a group of land developers proposed to drain and build on the wetlands. Your conservation agency was well aware of how sensitive and valuable the wetlands are, so you drafted a communications strategy to ensure that the agency's opposition to the proposed development was well understood and widely heard. You organized a series of informational evenings open to the public and made certain the media covered these events. You also ensured that all staff members within your own office were well informed on the issue and knew how to properly answer questions on the proposed development from the media and general public. Part of your communications strategy included educating local businesses about the environmental impacts of such a development. You also made certain your organization attended industry events and municipal council meetings to communicate your concerns. Months and months of your hard work have paid off, with the town council agreeing to protect the wetlands area.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as an environmental communications officer:
- Act as a spokesperson for a company or an environmental organization, or brief those who will speak to the press.
- Research and write stories on environmental issues for submission to newspapers and magazines.
- Develop press releases, public service announcements, and media advisories for newspapers, radio, and television.
- Develop communications products and tools such as websites, videos, short films, brochures, and displays to promote your organization and contribute to its education and outreach goals.
- Prepare presentations, speeches, and briefing materials.
- Develop issue-management plans that anticipate issues and how to handle them effectively.
- Participate in and direct internal communications, for example to ensure staff members are adequately prepared to answer inquiries.
- Provide regular reports on the status of your organization?s communication programs and projects.
- Collaborate in a team environment with other professionals, for example policy analysts, graphic designers, and programmers.
Work environmentEnvironmental communications officers work in a variety of locations, including:In the office:
- Preparing media releases, brochures, and information sheets
- Responding to requests for information from the media and the public
- Compiling communications reports
- Preparing communications and issue-management strategies
- Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, colleagues, government officials, and stakeholders
- Making presentations to stakeholders, clients, media representatives, and the general public
- Organizing events
- Conducting public outreach sessions and meeting with educators and partner organizations
Where to workThere are a number of places environmental communications officers can find employment. They include:
- Land-use and conservation agencies
- Environmental consulting companies
- Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal government departments
- Not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations
- Industry, including manufacturing, forestry, oil and gas, and mining
- Self-employed consultant
- Communications and public relations firms
Education & requirementsIf you are a high school student considering a career as an environmental communications officer, you should have strong marks or an interest in:
- Social Studies
- Communications and Marketing
- Environmental Studies
- Political Science