Communications team leader, Orkney Islands Council
Starting salary/salary band for the job?
In many sectors, salaries in the islands are not necessarily the highest in the land, but we benefit greatly from living and working in a pretty special place.
What qualifications do you need?
I came into this job via journalism – staff then freelance for newspapers, radio and TV – along with a range of PR work as a consultant.
What level of experience do you need?
You need a good understanding of how local government works and of the impact on the local community of the many services a council like ours provides - you would expect schools, bin collections and social care, but we also have responsibility for six airfields in our smaller islands, an inter-island ferry service, the safe operation of a major oil port, and the upkeep of a cathedral founded in 1137 by a Viking Earl.
Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful?
Without a background in local government comms I would say useful – but not essential. Having worked in journalism is a help when it comes to media relations. But there are, of course, many other aspects to the job – our social media presence, video production, campaigns and helping to keep our community informed when, for instance, severe weather strikes. We benefit greatly by collaborating with other public sector comms colleagues in the Highlands and Islands and more widely in Scotland.
What are the main day-to-day challenges?
It may sound like a cliché, but I can honestly say no day is ever the same and that’s one of the best (and sometimes one of the most frustrating) things about the job.
What is the best part of the job?
Countering myths. Local councils do good things for their communities and it’s satisfying when we show how. As well as more traditional means of communication, we’re increasingly using videos shot and edited on iPhones to do that. Other innovations we’re quietly proud of include a Twitter feed for the Churchill Barriers – letting folk know when stormy seas close the roads across Orkney’s wartime causeways.
What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?
At almost a quarter of a mile in length, a council pier on the outskirts of our main town is Scotland’s longest deep-water commercial berth. It’s a hub of maritime activity – and perhaps useful to know the next time you’re setting a quiz.
If you get an interview, do say?
The council has a positive impact on the lives of people in our community. Let’s make sure we’re getting the message out.
If you get an interview, don’t say?
Er. What. Sorry. To the question: describe yourself in three words.
If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to?
Anything where you need to 'Keep Calm and Carry On'. Firefighting perhaps?
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