OPINION: THE BIG QUESTION - What are the benefits of switching over to work in the public sector? - Councils are turning to the private sector to fill senior posts, according to a headhunter at the recent Scupro conference


'There's a stigma attached to local government that prevents some in the

private sector from applying for positions. When I started here, I was a

little apprehensive but was pleased to find PROs committed to continuous


We have worked together on our corporate comms strategy and have an

understanding that council business will not be used for political point

scoring. I think that the perception that the wheels of local government

turn slowly is misguided and out of date. I'm busier than ever, I'm

earning a salary commensurate with similar positions within the private

sector and I'm enjoying every minute of it. I'd challenge other private

sector managers to give it a go.'


'Selling washing powder, building society accounts or biscuits has never

interested me. A council is far more challenging and ultimately it

touches more people's lives. Where else could you devise a campaign to

stop shootings in Harlesden and lobby for pounds 110m to regenerate the

area around Wembley Stadium at the same time? The national press has

more respect for public sector PR. When we call journalists, they don't

roll their eyes to high heaven and complain about PR puff. They listen

because they know we are going to talk to them about issues that affect

their readers' lives. We don't have the same money to work with as the

private sector, but we hold our own and I'm proud of that.'


'By definition, the public sector is serving the public but it often

forgets that in today's highly commercialised western society there is a

need to 'sell' what is on offer, even if there isn't an alternative.

It's this window of opportunity that provides the most compelling reason

for commercially-minded PR executives to move into the public


The chance to put into practice the kind of strategies and activities

that are humdrum in consumer marketing terms is surely the way to lure

the creative PR person. The outsider's image of public sector life is

one of servitude and tedium. In reality, if you have a good idea and the

courage to promote it, you often get the chance to put it into



'On the good days - and you always wish there were more of them - you

know that if you sort something out for somebody you change people's

lives. If you meet the tenant after sorting out a housing repair you can

see that their life is changed. Their home has been improved and that is

a real privilege. It is a different feeling to the rush of energy you

get from winning a deal in the private sector. If you are somebody who

is motivated by making a difference to people's lives then the public

sector offers a very rewarding area of endeavour. There is also a

massive leadership challenge in the public sector: you have to juggle

with a whole myriad of different issues simultaneously. I found that

very energising in local government.'

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