Tacoma Public Utilities
Deputy Director of Public Affairs and Communications
Tacoma Public Utilities (TPU) is a public utility organization that has its origins in 1893, and is made up of Tacoma Power, Tacoma Water, Tacoma Rail, and the Click! broadband network . Tacoma Public Utilities employs more than 1,400 people and operates entirely from revenues from the sale of utility services. TPU serves approximately 170,000 electric customers and 90,000 water customers in Tacoma and surrounding jurisdictions in suburban Pierce and King Counties in Washington State.
TPU is one of the largest public utilities in the United States and has earned regional, national and international recognition for its leadership and innovation. TPU customers enjoy high quality, reliable utility services at competitive prices.
A five-member board oversees the operations of TPU and its electric, broadband and water utilities and industrial freight-switching railroad. The Tacoma City Council appoints the board members, and they serve staggered five-year terms.
Additional information about TPU is available at www.mytpu.org.
About the Position
The Deputy Director of Public Affairs is appointed by and reports to the CEO, and serves as a member of the agency’s Executive Team. This position oversees 22 staff in five key areas: Government Relations; Marketing; Media Communications; Market Development and Research; and Economic Development.
Additional responsibilities include:
- Responsible for identifying, assessing and tracking proposed local, state and federal legislation and rules. Duties include program and project oversight responsibility to fulfill policy, legislative and intergovernmental initiatives and objectives.
- Oversees the Media Communications group which serves as the primary agency spokesperson to the media and provides timely and transparent information to the public and employees and enhances the visibility of the agency’s strategic initiatives, key messages, and programs.
- Coordinates and promotes contact with the press; community organizations; federal, state and local agencies and the general public.
- Establishes and promotes the agency’s brand and helps develop meaningful community engagement through a variety of public process approaches.
- Provide outreach and advocate TPU’s position to the legislature and local government agencies.
- Assists in maintaining strong TPU relationships with elected officials.
- Works closely with internal customers to assure a high level of services.
- Establish and maintain administrative and political liaisons with local governments.
- Implement approved contracts and agreements and coordinate activities of contracted lobbyists.
- Develop and monitor the departmental budget.
- Directs the development of a comprehensive public relations strategy, through consultation with internal and external stakeholders that improves communication and engagement with citizens and customers.
- Interprets complex public utility issues and challenges and translates information into clear, easily understood forms for public consumption.
- Identifies emerging issues faced by the agency and works with the CEO, Executive Team and staff to recognize communication opportunities in order to design and execute appropriate strategies to address them.
- Provides advice to agency-wide departmental citizen engagement efforts – monitoring projects as they are implemented and giving attention to sensitive issues as they emerge.
- Develops and oversees tools to measure the success and continuously improve the quality of public relations.
- Oversees customer research processes, product and services development, development of customer value proposition and associated marketing programs and materials
- Oversees an economic developmet professional and crafts strategies to support economic development and job growth in TPU’s service areas
The Ideal Candidate
For this important role TPU seeks an experienced government affairs, public relations and marketing professional who is deeply committed to the success of the agency and is a strategic big-picture thinker. The ideal candidate will be a seasoned professional who exhibits a high level of diplomacy, professionalism and integrity.
The preferred candidate will have experience and demonstrated success in the following areas:
- Strategic public relations leadership with an understanding of the relationship between public agencies, the media and the community.
- Experience conducting public policy analysis on complex policy, planning and service issues and on regulatory matters.
- Principles and practices of political processes, intergovernmental affairs and public administration.
- Understanding of the news media, its structures and technology for reporting news.
- Familiarity with trends in customer marketing, communications, identity building, and other customer-facing responsibilities
- Cultural competency that enables effective working relationships in cross-cultural situations.
- Experience working with diverse constituencies, including elected officials; committees and staff; state, local and federal agencies; public policy interest groups; and citizens.
- Familiarity with the energy and utilities industries including policy, legal, regulatory and operational issues,
- Relationships in Washington State government and in the Tacoma / Pierce County community
- Integrity, honesty, compassion, courage, optimism, and good judgment.
- Creative problem solver, bringing fresh ideas and a progressive approach.