So, you want my job? Media and comms officer, Terrorism and Extremism Research Centre

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Daniel Blackman's job as media and comms officer for the Terrorism and Extremism Research Centre (TERC) at the University of East London?

Never witness how law, sausages and news are made, says Daniel Blackman (well, maybe the last one isn't so bad)
Never witness how law, sausages and news are made, says Daniel Blackman (well, maybe the last one isn't so bad)
Daniel Blackman

Media and Communications Officer

Starting salary/salary band for the job? 
Salary bands? Only people in HR departments know about those! For my level, roughly speaking, you’re looking at £25-40,000 for higher education communications roles.

What qualifications do you need? 
I’m employed by a university, so I should probably emphasise the need for a degree! I don’t think a degree or qualification in PR, journalism, or communications is essential. I do think the skills you pick up and develop doing any degree are vital. Professional courses help. Common sense, a pro-active work ethic, and humour are a must.

What level of experience do you need? 
A couple of years are the minimum. So, get experience, paid or voluntary. Once you’re in the role, ask for new responsibilities and try new things. If you’re a manager, be willing to give space for junior staff to ‘stretch their legs’ – don’t let them become hamsters on wheels.

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful? 
I think experience in an organisation of comparable size would be handy. I’m pretty open to the charity, public and private sectors each offering experience that is useful to the other sectors. 

What are the main day-to-day challenges? 
People thinking comms is the same as marketing, and the back-end of websites.

What is the best part of the job? 
Fantastic variety: from stories of students overcoming adversity, to the latest research in hacking, mental health, terrorism, or housing to name a few. I also enjoy the media relations aspect – telling print and broadcast journalists about specialist and great stories. Finally, being part of a wonderful team (I’d hope they’re reading this!)

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?
There’s a saying – you should never witness how three things are made: laws, sausages, and the news. I’d say being part of how news is ‘made’ can sometimes be described as unusual, but also humbling, exciting, and rewarding.  

If you get an interview, do say? 
Show that you’ve made an effort to know what the comms team does and its notable achievements. Tell them why you want that specific role with that specific organisation. And tell them about your experiences and what you could bring to the role. 

If you get an interview, don’t say? 
Sorry I’m 45 minutes late! 

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to? 
Chef in Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen. Panning for gold. 

Please note: Interviewees for 'So, you want my job' are not leaving their current role.

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