So, you want my job? Digital comms officer for Avon and Somerset Police

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Charlotte Lowe's job as digital comms officer for Avon and Somerset Police

Can you crop your ex out of a picture? It won't help you get this job, warns Charlotte Lowe
Can you crop your ex out of a picture? It won't help you get this job, warns Charlotte Lowe
Charlotte Lowe

Digital comms officer for Avon and Somerset Police

Starting salary/salary band for the job?
I’m currently banded as SO1 (senior officer) and started on about £28,000.

What qualifications do you need?
The role profile specified a relevant degree, but I’d say relevant experience is more important.

What level of experience do you need?
People join police digital comms teams from all sorts of backgrounds. But starting out as a journalist definitely helped me with the reactive side of my job. It can be really fast-paced when something big happens so it helps to be able to think clearly on your feet.

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful?
Knowledge of how public sector organisations work is useful but not essential. My last job was as a regional coms officer for the NSPCC. This experience meant I was used to running engaging campaigns with very little budget, which is always a handy skill going into public sector comms.  
What are the main day-to-day challenges?
If someone isn’t happy with the service they’ve received from a police force, they’ll often use social media as a platform to shout about it. This can be hard when every day you see how hard officers and staff are working, with ever-shrinking resources. But luckily lots of people know this and will also use social media to thank police forces for their work, whether it’s saving one of their loved ones, helping them in a distressing situation, or attending their community event. Thankfully, this outweighs any negativity.

What is the best part of the job?
Our HQ is on the edge of Portishead and close to countryside so we sometimes see baby deer frolicking outside our office window. That’s certainly a perk… But I’d say the best part of my job is the ability to keep members of the public safe and informed during a crisis situation. Thankfully it doesn’t happen very often but when it does, we’re reminded of just how important all that preparation is. It’s also very true that people can make a job. I’m lucky to work with a talented, friendly and quick-witted bunch of people. You can hear some tragic tales working for a police force – it’s the camaraderie that helps you deal with it. 

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?
You don’t have to be a warranted police officer to lead a murder investigation team. One of our investigators trained in forensics but now he solves murders.

If you get an interview, do say?
That you’ve taught yourself a relevant skill. Social media changes so rapidly that it’s important to be able to adapt. We’re constantly teaching ourselves new skills to keep up, including HTML, video editing and learning how to use new software and platforms. That’s why showing you’re motivated to teach yourself new skills is so attractive.

If you get an interview, don’t say?
That you’ve gained lots of image handling experience from filtering selfies and cropping ex-partners out of group photos. We don’t spend an awful lot of time filtering mug shots so we would rather hear about your professional experience of social media and photo editing.

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to?
Jet-ski instructor. It’s the closest match in terms of adrenaline; putting safety at the heart of everything you do; and you have to be pretty skilled at riding waves (of public opinion). If a role opens up in the Bahamas, I’m there.

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

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