Speechwriting kills

A speechwriter-wanted ad unwittingly describes the speechwriting job as impossible. Impossible to anyone but speechwriters, that is.

Get a load of this speechwriting job that came across my desk last week ….

SEIU (Service Employees International Union)

Job Title: Executive Communication Coordinator and Speechwriter

Grade: E

Location: Washington, D.C.

Purpose: The Executive Communications Coordinator and Speechwriter serves as a member of the SEIU communications team and is primarily responsible for writing major addresses, brief remarks, talking points and internal communications for the International President and International Secretary-Treasurer. They will also be asked to write for other executive officers and International union leaders when necessary.

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES: (Any one position may not include all of the specific duties and responsibilities listed. Examples provide a general summary of the work required and should not be treated as a total and complete list of expected duties to be performed by employees in the classification.)

• Primary writer of speeches, remarks, talking points, articles, opinion editorials, blog entries, and other public or internal comments by the International President and International Secretary-Treasurer, and other SEIU officers as needed.

• Ensures that the relevant strategy, audience specific message development, branding, and other core goals are accomplished in each piece.

• Working with the schedulers, the communications team, and other senior staff, maintains awareness of the International President's and International SecretaryTreasurer's schedules and the expected length and topics for upcoming speaking engagements.

• Develops internal communications from the executive office to Local leaders and international staff, including emails, call scripts and internal talking points.

• Coordinates internal communications to Local leaders at International Executive Board and Executive Committee meetings.

• Under the supervision of the communications director, works with the communications team, senior staff, and others to keep abreast of SEIU's positions on key events, issues and policy, and develop messaging and text that fulfills the relevant strategy.

• Works with the International President and International Secretary-Treasurer and other executive officers to develop an understanding of their style and preferences for speeches.

• Under the supervision of the communications director, works with the media staff, or other senior staff during the review, editing and approval process to produce a high quality final product.

• Collaborates with design, video, other creative staff and/or consultants to ensure that powerpoints, flash movies, photos, video or other collateral elements that accompany the speech are prepared and help execute the strategy for the presentation.

• Works with local leaders or others at sponsoring organizations to ensure all information is gathered so each speech meets expectations for the presentation.

• Prepares and provides final, correctly formatted text for officers' use, for posting online, and for other purposes as needed. · Meets all deadlines to allow for review and advance delivery to officers.

• Does independent research to support and strengthen presentations and articles. Maintains records of research and back-up materials that verify statements.

• Works with the communications director and the media team to coordinate the public remarks with information made available to the media. · Available to respond quickly and productively to last minute requests.

• Participates in spokesperson training and speech delivery preparation for International officers.

• Maintains a comprehensive electronic archive of speeches, remarks, and presentations, both as prepared and as delivered.

• Does other writing as needed by the communications department.

• Performs other duties as assigned in support of the work of the department.

Contacts: Must be able to represent the International Union with local leaders, members, staff, and outside organizations utilizing independent judgment and a high level of professionalism. Interfaces with high-level organizational and external contacts, including:

• SEIU officers, division leadership, International senior staff, project and program managers, field, political, and organizing directors, local union officers and staff.

• External: news media, politicians, government officials, corporate counterparts, partners and allies.

• Vendors: design and production companies, consultants, pollsters, freelancers, video and multi-media producers, advertising agencies. Ensures that sophisticated choices are made about appropriate vendors and support services. Direction and Decision Making: Reports to the Deputy Director of Communications and works with extreme independence.

• Must have demonstrated ability to manage own work and work of others without supervision.

• Requires a high level of judgment and ability to take initiative and work independently.

• Must use a high level of judgment and discretion in resolving problems within the Communications Department and throughout SEIU.

• Must maintain a high level of confidentiality in handling SEIU affairs.

• Must be able to work with International and local union elected leaders and senior staff in complex and sometimes politically sensitive situations. · Must be able to act and organize time with extreme independence.

• Must be able to handle multiple “priority” projects simultaneously and set and meet deadlines, and ensure that staff team does the same. Education and Experience: Bachelors degree in communications, journalism, or related field, and or five to eight years of related work experience or a combination of education and experience that would provide for the following knowledge, skills and abilities: · Outstanding writing skills. Excellent verbal and analytical skills.

• Through knowledge of correct use of grammar, construction and spelling.

• Excellent proofreading skills.

• Proven ability to write for diverse audiences and translate complex policy initiatives into speeches that effectively communicate SEIU's core values and goals.

• Experience developing and implementing strategy on campaigns, such as political, legislative, organizing, and contract, as well as experience working with community allies, desired.

• Thorough knowledge of media relations strategies.

• Thorough knowledge of electronic and print media systems. Knowledge of advertising techniques and familiarity with all aspects of literature, audiovisual, and online production process. Demonstrated capacity to continuously develop knowledge and skills related to use of rapidly changing technology.

• Demonstrated ability to work closely with principal officers of non-profit organizations, elected officials, or other principal officers, with proven trustworthiness for handling sensitive and confidential information. Ability to meet high standards for accuracy, quality, responsiveness, integrity and discretion.

• Good interpersonal communications and teamwork skills.

• Demonstrated ability to quickly produce high-quality work under tight deadlines.

• Detail-oriented with strong project and time management skills, including ability to manage multiple projects and tasks simultaneously.

• Ability to take direction and editing from others.

• Motivated self-starter with a positive attitude.

• Experience working in a dynamic work environment essential.

• Internet-savvy with solid technology experience, including proficiency in Microsoft Office and related programs.

Physical Requirements: Work is generally performed in an office setting, but may be required to work in other settings conducive to performing the tasks required to complete assignments. Travel and long and extended hours required.

Application Requirements: A resume is required for all applications. A cover letter is highly suggested. Your cover letter should explain your reason for wanting to work for SEIU, an example of how you demonstrated success in a similar position and a description of how this position fits into your long-term career plan.

Benefits: SEIU staff enjoy top notch benefits including comprehensive health benefits, major medical, dental and vision for employee and eligible dependents, domestic partner benefits, competitive salaries, generous holiday and vacation policies, and both a pension plan and a 401(K) Plan. SEIU is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Apply Here: http://www.Click2apply.net/kg8v8t8mwx

Gobsmacked by the sheer number of responsibilities and amused by the breadth of the demands—the person has to be a team player and raconteur who can work with "extreme indepdence"—I ran them by some members and friends of the Professional Speechwriters Association, for a laugh.

They weren't laughing.

"This is my job description to a T," said one.

"Seems accurate to me," said another.

"I feel very competent having performed in such a function," said another.

"An honest job description of a senior level corp comms writer these days," said another. "You write, you relationship, you gap fill, you verify. Thinking, reading, expanding, learning is done on your own time."

"Sad thing is that it's still incomplete," said a veteran speechwriter. "They left out some of the most difficult parts of the job—but parts that every speechwriter knows to be true." And then he rattled off a list:

• Must be willing to work with little direction.
• Must enjoy an atmosphere of vagueness.
• Must enjoy working with prima donnas who are not trained communicators.
• Must have a thick skin when your best work is red-lined.
• Must be able to produce top-notch work … but be comfortable taking no credit for either original thought or outcomes.
• Must be willing to "carry the briefcase" when necessary.
• Must be brave enough to develop policy positions where none existed before.
• Must enjoy living out on a limb …

Happy warriors, many speechwriters may be. But warriors, in any case. —DM

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