Head of Communications, Moscow

Application checklist

Please check you have included the following in your application email to: recruitment@moscow.msf.org

  • CV
  • Letter of motivation (LoM)
  • Answers to the questions specified in the application pack


Recruitment timetable:

Closing date for applications: 19 June 2016

Interviews: Week commencing 26 June 2017

Start date: July/August 2017



Job Title: Head of Communications

Hours: 40 hours full time

Location: Moscow

Duration: One year, with potential to extend

Salary: Grade 12 on MSF salary scale


Position in the organisation

  • The Head of Communications reports directly to the Head of Office/Representative.
  • The Head of Communications is part of the senior management team of the MSF Moscow Office.
  • Works closely with communications colleagues in the international office, operational centres, in the region and across the wider network
  • Directly line manages three members of staff: press officer, digital officer and editor/translation coordinator, as well as occasional consultants.



Médecins Sans Frontières is an international medical humanitarian organisation founded in 1971, providing essential medical care to victims of conflict, epidemics and neglect around the world. MSF operates in an impartial manner on the basis of need and entirely independently of governments. MSF currently operates medical programmes in over 70 countries.

In 2017 MSF is opening a new Branch Office in Moscow to enhance our representation and communications in Russian, and towards Russian stakeholders. MSF will also be increasing our recruitment of Russian medical and humanitarian staff to work in our programmes around the world. For the moment, MSF has no plans to actively fundraise in Russia.

The Moscow Branch office is currently in set-up phase and the Head of Communications will be responsible for recruiting and developing their team.


The role of Communications in Moscow

The purpose of the communications team in Moscow is to raise awareness of the work, concerns and position of the organisation amongst Russian and international Russian-speaking audiences via diverse media channels in order to support MSF’s advocacy and recruitment activities.

The media has long been essential to MSF’s advocacy and recruitment, so our policy is one of openness and cooperation with the press. However, we also communicate directly with the public through digital and public engagement activities. Communications staff are highly valued within the organisation and are expected to contribute actively to strategic and communication decisions, both within Russia and internationally. Digital tools including web, audio-visual and other multimedia are central to our strategic vision.

The Moscow team represents MSF’s institutional communications to Russian audiences. The Moscow communications team will be required to work closely with the international web editor and other colleagues to ensure that all core institutional press releases and communications are present on the Russian-language website.

The communications team in Moscow will work closely with, and provide support to, colleagues across the MSF Movement, including communications staff working directly in medical and humanitarian projects in Russia and the region.

The Head of Communications is a senior role and is expected to work closely with the Head of Office/Representative to develop and implement communications strategies to enhance the understanding of MSF’s work and concerns among Russia stakeholders.


Main responsibilities:

Communications Strategy

  • Responsible for the development and management of an ambitious communications strategy to relay MSF’s humanitarian and medical activities and positions in Russian-language media, ensuring MSF’s messages are clearly and effectively represented in Russia.
  • Build visibility for MSF in Russia as an independent medical humanitarian organization, producing first piece stories from expats, articles on medical issues and on the international nature of our work and teams.
  • Contribute to the overall strategy of MSF Moscow as a member of the senior management team.
  • Work with HR colleagues in Berlin and Tokyo to provide strategic communications support and develop campaigns to assist recruitment activities in Russia.


Manage Organisational Identity

  • Ensure MSF’s organisational identity is clearly and consistently presented in Russia. Identify and respond to reputational risks if incorrect information appears in the media.  Provide leadership on handling social media, working closely with and supporting the digital officer.


  • Provide strategic advice and support to senior MSF staff, including the Head of Moscow Office and international spokespeople on difficult communications issues. Identify training needs for spokespeople and support their development.


  • Ensure readiness for crisis management. May be required to lead on crisis communications management in the event of a critical incident


  • Works with colleagues in fundraising, and the Head of Office, to provide clarity about MSF’s position on donations from Russian supporters, minimising the associated reputational risks.


  • Develop brand guidelines for use in Russia.


Provide leadership to communications team in media, digital and editorial activities

Direct the Communications team, ensuring HR policies and management practices are adhered to across the team. Recruits and directly line manages staff ensuring regular performance reviews, quality supervision and support. Management of occasional volunteers and interns. Develop and implement fair 24/7 media on-call rota.

  • Leads on developing and maintaining contacts with Russian media, identifying opportunities to build new relationships with key journalist contacts to secure coverage of MSF’s work, promoting visibility of the organisation and improving awareness of its principles and work. Guides the press officer by leading on media relations with key journalists.


  • Steer the press officer in facilitating interviews with MSF spokesperson and gathering operational information to fulfil enquiries and leads the successful organisation of any press conferences in Russia by ensuring clarity in messaging and spokespeople.


  • On occasion travels to project sites overseas to accompany journalists covering MSF’s



  • In close collaboration with the international web editor, the digital officer and the digital manager in Berlin, lead on the development of the Russia website and social media strategies.


  • Ensure communications team’s daily media & social media monitoring. Develop & disseminate regular media analysis to head of office & other key internal stakeholders.


  • Work together with colleagues to define requirements for printed publications in Russian – leaflets, brochures, annual reports etc .


  • Work together with colleagues to define requirements for AV content for use with Russian audiences.


International communications support and collaboration

  • Advise the MSF network on how to manage requests from Russian media abroad.


  • Provide over-arching ‘impact’ analysis from Russia communications team to content producers and MSF Operational Centres on both a regular and ad-hoc basis.


  • Prepare regular analysis on key humanitarian and medical issues, and contexts of interest to MSF, based on publications and media reports in Russia.


  • Work closely with operational & communications colleagues around the world to identify key issues which are relevant to communications in Russia and provide advice on public positioning.


  • Ensure aligned messaging and tight collaboration across teams working in the region and with key operational communications colleagues working on subjects with particular resonance in Russia eg TB, Syria.


  • Work with communications colleagues in the International office and all of the MSF Operational Centres to identify which MSF content needs to be translated into Russian and how.
  • Participates in formulating cohesive messages and strategies with other MSF sections by routine contact and annual movement-wide communications meetings


General Management

  • Responsible for budget planning and control for the communications team
  • Responsible for regular reporting of activities and outputs of the communications team.



Knowledge, skills and experience


  • Demonstrable experience in communications management or journalism, with a proven ability to build and manage a successful team.
  • Good knowledge of Russian media and context
  • Understanding of digital communications tools and their potential
  • Clear understanding of Russian political and NGO environment with the capacity to provide strategic advice to colleagues
  • Excellent verbal and written English. Fluency in Russian essential.
  • Strong organisational skills with experience of managing multiple tasks
  • Ability to work independently to general guidelines; capacity to take initiatives and seize opportunities
  • Availability to travel to and work in programme locations internationally
  • Computer literate (Word for Windows, Access, Internet)
  • Energetic, flexible, can-do attitude and good team player – this role involves working very closely and collaboratively with colleagues in the Former Soviet Union and overseas
  • Ability to cope with stress, retain good humour and make sound ethical and personal judgements in order to deal with ambiguities and conflict


  • Previous work experience with MSF or a similar medical or humanitarian organisation
  • Previous work experience in developing countries an advantage
  • Ability to speak other languages such as French and/or Arabic


Application questions

Thank you for your interest in working with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) in Moscow as head of communications. In order to get a better sense of your experience and aptitude for this work, we would like you to complete the questions below and to submit them with your application. Don’t worry, there is rarely a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer, but we are interested in your approach and your ideas. Brevity is encouraged – certainly do not exceed the word limit.

  1. Describe the evolution of the Russian media in the last ten years (350 words max)
  2. What challenges and opportunities exist for NGOs in Russia on digital channels? (Max 250 words)
  3. Looking at MSF’s communications in Russian over the last twelve months, what could we have done better? Give a specific example in your answer. (Max 350 words)