So, you want my job? Comms officer at the Electoral Commission

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Abigail Reynolds' job as comms officer for the Electoral Commission?

Plan your day to a T, then plan it again including contingency time, advises Abigail Reynolds
Plan your day to a T, then plan it again including contingency time, advises Abigail Reynolds

Abigail Reynolds

Communications officer (press), Electoral Commission

Starting salary/salary band for the job?
£27,991 (plus overtime for on-call duties)

What qualifications do you need?
No specific qualifications are needed, but strong literacy and communications skills are a must. That, plus a sound working knowledge of the UK electoral system and parliamentary process, coupled with the ability to write in a compelling and accessible way and the desire to just get stuck in.

What level of experience do you need?
Experience of working in an environment that involved press and media relations is necessary, as well as the proven ability to build effective working relationships with journalists.

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful?
Useful of course. But our press office is a melting pot of different backgrounds - from public affairs to charity comms to local journalism, so diversity is definitely appreciated at the Commission.

What are the main day-to-day challenges?
Managing your time. Plan your day to a T, then plan it again including contingency time. Thanks to savvy media monitoring, we usually have a pretty good view of which stories are about to break, but some journalists’ enquiries can't be predicted. These require cross-departmental research, the preparation of briefings for senior colleagues, and writing of reactive media statements. Balancing our proactive comms with reactive comms is incredibly important.

What is the best part of the job?
It's got to be seeing a statement you've drafted for a journalist used in the press, especially when that information is used to help empower members of the public to make their voices heard in the democratic process.

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?
The shortest-serving MP was Edward Legge in 1748. He died 87 days before he was elected and was in the West Indies at the time, which is why it took almost three months for the news to arrive - four days after the declaration. His campaign can't have been up to much - but luckily for him he was the only candidate.

If you get an interview, do say?
"I'm willing to work flexibly and across a range of projects." My time at the Commission has been characterised by diversity of workload. During the election period my day would be split between helping members of the public find their local polling station at 7am, writing press releases regarding party and campaign finance at noon, and taking calls from journalists regarding electoral fraud at 9pm, as well as just about everything else in between.

If you get an interview, don’t say?
"If successful, I'd need to take leave in autumn for a party conference." Staff at the Electoral Commission are to be seen as absolutely impartial and not conduct themselves in a way that would call in to question the impartiality of the Commission.

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to?
Anything. This job sets you up for a career that demands you write clearly, think quickly and speak confidently. From in-house PR to journalism and marketing to policy, working in our press office equips you with a vast range of highly transferrable skills.

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

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