So, you want my job? Head of PR and communications, London's Air Ambulance

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Siobhra Murphy's job as head of PR and communications, London's Air Ambulance?

Would you dress up as a policewoman to assist in a medical training scenario? (pic credit: Captain Andrew Thomson, Pilot London’s Air Ambulance)
Would you dress up as a policewoman to assist in a medical training scenario? (pic credit: Captain Andrew Thomson, Pilot London’s Air Ambulance)

Siobhra Murphy

Head of PR and communications, London’s Air Ambulance

Starting salary/salary band for the job?

What qualifications do you need?
I studied Health and Social Care and then Business and Investment. Although it was a wonky path, it’s given me a good understanding of people, and their behaviours and emotions that I have been able to bring into the industry with me. Some sort of communications degree would be useful but our organisation places a lot of focus on experience and cultural fit.

What level of experience do you need?
I worked in Financial PR before coming to London’s Air Ambulance and did a little stint with a digital marketing agency before that. I started here as PR Manager and have grown with the organisation. I’m very lucky to have had amazing mentors along the way so I been able to learn a lot on the job. If someone was joining at my level now, previous experience in a senior communications role would be essential.

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful?
I wouldn’t say so. Experience working in a fast-paced communications environment would be very useful – perhaps a role with another emergency services or transport organisation. Charity communications would stand you in good stead also but is not essential.

What are the main day-to-day challenges?
The unpredictable nature of the service we deliver means that trying to balance proactive and reactive tasks is an ongoing battle. Most of the incidents that our team attend will be in the media spotlight and if they land the helicopter nearby it’s game over. I enjoy it though, it keeps us on our toes and I have a great team. As an organisation, the biggest challenge is changing preconceived misconceptions that we are funded by the Government. All air ambulances in the UK are charities and we all struggle with this. It probably doesn’t help that our organisation is so complex. While we are a charity, we operate in a tripartite partnership with the London Ambulance Service and Barts Health NHS Trust.

What is the best part of the job?
By far the people. It’s like a big family. Everyone is so passionate and respectful about each other’s role in treating very ill patients – from the fundraisers and support staff to the frontline crew. The medical and operational teams, in my eyes, are absolute heroes. Performing surgery at the roadside in the wind and rain, with chaos going on around them and, in some cases, bringing people who are clinically dead back to life - that’s mind-blowing and I am always in awe. And of course the helicopter is pretty cool, too.

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?
That trauma (which means ‘injury’) is the biggest killer of people under the age of 45, even children. Not cancer or heart disease as you may expect.

If you get an interview, do say?
That you are a team player and can juggle lots of moving parts while still functioning, and that you like to share chocolate biscuits with your team.

If you get an interview, don’t say?
You will only do what is defined in job role description. It wouldn’t be unusual to be asked to pack sweets in a few hundred bags or to dress up and act as a policewoman to help with the medical scenario training, so you need to be prepared to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to?
Being a zookeeper. There are so many different species to nurture who require different foods, feeding patterns, levels of communication and tender loving care. If you get it right it’s an enjoyable experience for all, if you get it wrong you might get eaten.

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

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