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Director of Public Relations & Engagement

Come join us at the Great Plains Zoo as a Director of Public Relations & Engagement.  This role will be responsible for managing the efforts to engage the public with activities including public relations, marketing, media relations and advertising related to driving attendance.  This position is also responsible for day-to-day oversight of the operations of revenue centers including guest services, visitor experiences, education department, and attendance-driving special events at the Zoo.  

Essential Functions & Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  •  Serves as primary liaison with SSA who manages the guest services operations of the Zoo including admissions, retail, and food service.
  • Ensures SSA team in engaged with and in alignnment with Zoo operational goals to ensure a seamless and positive visitor experience with exceptional customer service.
  • With guidance from leadership, manages the implementation of marketing, public and media relations and advertising related to driving attendance.
  • Responsible for protecting the integrity, continuity, value, and presence of the Zoo mission and brand across all outward-facing initiatives.
  • Serve as Public Information Officer as part of the Zoo's risk management plan.
  • May act as secondary point of contact for the City of Sioux Falls and/or City Parks Department.
  • In consultation with leadership, writes copy for printed promotional and informational materials including Zoo maps, rack cards, electronic and print media, advertising, membership brochures, and other collateral materials.
  • Contributes to the production of communication pieces to Zoo members and the general public (e-news, emails, social media, annual reports, etc.).
  • Develops and maintains an editorial calendar for all the Zoo’s owned media channels, including email, social media, and website.
  • Creates a strategy, timeline, and budget for advertising placement.  Works independently with outside vendors to place advertisements in print, radio, television, and outdoor applications.
  • Meets with, or directs meetings with advertising representatives, to gather information on rates and placement plans.
  • Prepares news releases and makes media calls to pitch stories to raise visibility of the Zoo and its activities.
  • Assist with the development of key messages, backgrounders, and other media materials.
  • Oversees graphic tracking process and works with leadership to produce marketing collateral, signage, and other graphic projects.
  • Effectively collaborates cross-departmentally to ensure all communications fall within brand standards.
  • Works with leadership to create and execute an annual media placement strategy.
  • Accompanies photographers and other media while on grounds to ensure the safety of our guests.
  • Secures media interviews (radio, TV, newspaper, etc.) and b-roll to promote events or stories. May serve as a Zoo spokesperson at the direction of CEO/President for select television, radio, and newspaper opportunities.
  • With direction from leadership, plans and executes gate driving events with coordination of SSA, education department and animal care team as needed for events such as: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, animal awareness days, conservation focused events, animal enrichment events, Grandparent’s Day, Military and First Responder appreciation days, Member Appreciation etc.
  • With direction from leadership, plans and executes special events to engage various diverse groups of people including Brew at the Zoo and develop new events for public engagement
  • Develop and maintain favorable relationships with staff, Board, vendors, and donors.
  • Utilizes database, spreadsheets, and written documents to produce standard and ad hoc reports which are used to chart progress to goals and for strategic planning.
  • Provides oversight and continued development of the overall zoo guest engagement experience and program impact.
  • Ensures high quality special events for guests by collaborating with multiple departments including, SSA, education, facilities, and animal care.
  • Update and improve upon existing guest engagement standards, policies, and procedures, ensuring the highest possible level of service.
  • Responsible for oversight of all revenue and expense activities related to public programs and engagement, including developing and meeting budget goals.
  • Guide and shape the overall guest experience at the Zoo including managing and mitigating guest issues.

  • Attend Zoo events as needed or assigned.
  • Will serve as Director on Duty on a rotating basis.


Qualifications Include:


  • Exemplary verbal and written communication skills that includes public speaking and presentations.
  • Proven ability to effectively contribute, interact, and collaborate positively and respectfully with other staff, guests, and members of the public.
  • Ability to work effectively in a fast-paced non-profit environment, use independent judgment and produce a great volume of high-quality work with limited staff/financial resources and within tight timelines.
  • Ability to anticipate challenges, take initiative, and provide solutions.
  • Demonstrated ability to manage a diverse team to achieve expected outcomes.
  • Leadership and supervisory skills that include effective delegation, coaching, and the assurance of accountability.
  • Ability to work under pressure, juggle multiple projects, meet deadlines, and communicate effectively with other staff.
  • Strong critical thinking, problem-solving  and organizational skills are required.
  • Must be proficient with using Microsoft Office programs including Word, Excel, Publisher, PowerPoint, Abode, web-design and social media software and Outlook.



Required Education and Experience:

  • College degree in journalism, communications, marketing or a related field or equivalent experience.
  • Must have at least 3 years’ experience in a corporate communication environment.
  • Five years of solid supervisory/managerial experience of multiple team members and operations including, hiring, coaching, and mentoring.
  • Experience managing and creating departmental budgets.


Preferred Education and Experience

  • Preference will be given to candidates with experience in marketing/event department at an attraction with an ability to drive attendance through engaging and impactful communications, special events and promotions.
  • Demonstrated media relations experience preferred.


The 45-acre Great Plains Zoo is located in Sioux Falls, SD a vibrant and growing community!

  • A metro population of over 278,000.
  • Smart Asset ranks Sioux Falls first as the Best City For Young Professionals in 2017, 2018 and 2019.  
  • ZipRecruiter identified Sioux Falls as the third hottest job market in 2020.
  • WalletHub ranked Sioux Falls as No. 15 on the 2019 list of Happiest Cities in America.
  • Livability ranked Sioux Falls No. 7 among the 2019 Top 100 Best Places to Live

Full-time positions include competitive pay and a generous benefits package that includes health, dental, vision, life and short and long term disability insurances, a 401(k) plan with matching contributions, eight paid holidays and a PTO allowance.   

Proof of U.S. Citizenship or immigration status will be required upon employment. Criminal convictions are not an absolute bar to employment, but will only be considered in relation to specific job requirements.

  • Love this zoo! Great place to get a walk in and the animals are everywhere! The museum/indoor part is very educational too. Has a lot of shade for when it's hot out. Very clean. Friendly staff.

    Taylor F.
  • We love to visit the zoo. They have great outdoor exhibits and lots to do inside as well. Great for kids and adults.

    Robin A.
  • Lots of great exhibits and animals to see! Fun gift shop and learning center.

    Stephanie N.
  • The museum gives you a break from the sun on hot summer days and has a great selection of animal exhibits from around the world. ¬†The zoo keeps growing and adding new animal habitats or improving existing ones. ¬†Membership offers reciprocal benefits to other zoos around the country.

    Bill T.