So, you want my job? Comms officer at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Julia Gosling's job as comms officer at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency?

Julia Gosling's career highlights include include being winched out of a Coastguard rescue helicopter onto a moving ship
Julia Gosling's career highlights include include being winched out of a Coastguard rescue helicopter onto a moving ship

Julia Gosling

Communications officer (marketing and press).

Starting salary/salary band for the job?
£30,000 with additional allowance for press duty out of hours.

What qualifications do you need?
A professional qualification in marketing or PR helps to show marketing credentials but that’s not essential if someone has relevant experience in a similar role.

What level of experience do you need?
We look for people who have experience of working on marketing campaigns and events. For the press office side of our work we look for people who can cope with a fairly fast-moving and high-pressure environment and experience of working with national and regional media.

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful?
Relevant experience could be either public sector or commercial, although it may help to be familiar with the idiosyncrasies of working in the civil service. When I was recruited I had commercial marketing experience with an agency and I’d also undertaken a marketing role as a volunteer with a charity. Funnily enough, I hadn’t much experience of crisis management during major shipping incidents on behalf of an emergency service in the middle of the night on a remote clifftop…. I learned that on the job and during my first week in the office I was in at the deep end with the sinking of a car carrier ship in the Channel, which was subsequently struck by a gas tanker.

What are the main day-to-day challenges?
There is a very high volume of work passing through our communications team every day and high interest from the media because we are a national emergency service and there is never a day without a significant search-and-rescue incident in the UK. Prioritisation is a challenge as there are often urgent requests for our time, but we also have important planned behaviour change campaign work, which we must not sideline. We really need the media to help get our messages out because we don’t have big budgets for advertising. We deal with a lot of data about death, there are many drownings every year and sometimes you feel like you are repeating the same messages every year.

What is the best part of the job?
I work with people who often know more about their subject than anyone else in the world, like Coastguards, who coordinate incredibly technical and brain-busting calculations during fast-moving search-and-rescue missions and make very difficult life-and-death decisions. Out on the coast, I’ve met hundreds of our volunteer Coastguards who turn out for search-and-rescue jobs and they are absolute unsung heroes and don’t seek publicity for their work. Honestly, there have been so many days when I’ve pinched myself and said "I’m at work and I shouldn’t be having so much fun!" Some highlights include being winched out of a Coastguard rescue helicopter onto a moving ship and saying "back a bit" to a brand new Coastguard rescue helicopter while parking it for a media photoshoot.

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?
Fishing is by far the deadliest job in the UK. Fishermen are about 10 times more likely to die than your average worker. Over 500 million tonnes of cargo is moved on ships in the UK every year and there are up to 500 vessel movements a day through the Dover Strait.

If you get an interview, do say?
I thrive on variety and I can see the bigger picture. Oh and I make great cakes and I don’t like going on holiday during the summer when we are busy with Coastguard search-and-rescue incidents, or Easter or Christmas.

If you get an interview, don’t say?
I’ll solve all your PR problems because I’m great at social media and that’s all you need!

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to?
Maybe an editor in multi-channel publishing? Or herding cats, possibly.

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

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