So, you want my job? Comms manager, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Sarah Robert's role as comms manager at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service?

Smoke signals are not an option when communicating with fire fighters, says Sarah Roberts
Smoke signals are not an option when communicating with fire fighters, says Sarah Roberts
Sarah Roberts

Comms Manager, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

Starting salary/salary band for the job: 
£35k upwards

What qualifications do you need? 
A degree or relevant equivalent experience. A professional qualification does help and shows commitment to continuous learning - I completed the CIPR Diploma and this was a fantastic foundation to build upon and my next step is to become Chartered.

What level of experience do you need? 
A strong understanding of what makes people tick and how internal communications can drive employee engagement is a must, particularly through periods of massive change. And in our world, the pace of public sector reform is not slowing.

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful? 
While I don’t think it’s necessary, I do think an appreciation of the political dimension and how this affects decision-making is helpful. New perspectives from people outside the public sector are useful to challenge our thinking.

What are the main day-to-day challenges? 
75 per cent of our fire service staff are operational firefighters, based at 51 fire stations across Essex, so keeping this remote part of our workforce up-to-date is a constant challenge. Smoke signals are not an option! 

What is the best part of the job? 
Knowing my role helps (even in small way) to make peoples’ lives safer, and having the privilege of working with some incredibly talented people keeps me coming back for more.

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job? 
The current UK fire and rescue service is 96% white and 95% male – we need to progress diversity in our sector to reflect the communities we serve. This is a massive priority for fire service reform. 

If you get an interview, do say... 
What’s your biggest comms challenge? …here’s how I can solve it.

If you get an interview, don’t say... 
I don’t enjoy variety and facing new challenges every day. Oh, and I especially don’t respond well to changing priorities.

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to... 
A professional plate-spinner – keeping a lot of comms projects going at any one time.

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