So, you want my job? Media relations manager (campaigns), Network Rail

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Donna Mitchell's job as media relations manager (campaigns) at Network Rail?

Donna Mitchell can tell you chapter and verse about why leaves on the line cause delays
Donna Mitchell can tell you chapter and verse about why leaves on the line cause delays

Donna Mitchell

Media relations manager (campaigns) at Network Rail

Starting salary/salary band for the job?
Starting salary is between £32-35k

What qualifications do you need?
Educated to degree level or equivalent.

What level of experience do you need?
At least five years’ communications experience.

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful?
Not necessarily. Previous press office experience or an understanding of the rail industry and how it works are far more useful. Experience of working in complex organisations is also a bonus. It’s a fast-moving environment involving many stakeholders, so you need to be able to find your way around pretty quickly.

What are the main day-to-day challenges?
Network Rail is responsible for 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). We help people take more than 1.65 billion journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight. We employ over 37,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day. It’s amazing, but it means there are thousands of variables that can go wrong. Days rarely pan out as you had hoped – but that’s the nature of most press work, whereever you work. It also makes it hard when you’re trying to cut through with a positive, proactive story.

What is the best part of the job?
It’s a cliché, but most definitely the team that I work with. Sometimes it can feel like the whole world is out to get you, but knowing that we’ll all pulling together – and that’s the whole communications function, not just the press team - gets you through it. I work with some fantastic people here at Network Rail.

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?
Where to start? I know a whole host of rail trivia that I never ever thought I’d want to know, let alone have an interest in. I’m even proud of the fact that I understand why leaves on the line are a problem and I can explain it to you in great detail now if you’ve got the time… I love the fact that I learn something new every single day. I’ve been here for over three years and that still holds true. I can’t ask for more than that.

If you get an interview, do say?
Show that you’ve done a little bit of research and understand how the rail industry works. An enthusiasm for this line of work is a must and you need to demonstrate an understanding of the political and media landscape in which we operate.

If you get an interview, don’t say?
I’ve always been interested in the work that British Rail/National Rail does… And no train puns – we’ve heard them all and they’re not funny (though if you’ve got a new one and you’re confident it won’t derail the interview you can try your luck). Also, if you’re late don’t blame it on the train unless it is the truth. We always know…

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to?
Anything! Understanding how to work in a highly-regulated, complex organisation such as Network Rail has got to make you equipped to work anywhere!

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

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