So, you want my job? Multimedia comms officer for Derbyshire Constabulary

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Jonny Birkin's job as multimedia comms officer for Derbyshire Constabulary?

Jonny Birkin makes a mean cup of tea (and he's good at his main job too!)
Jonny Birkin makes a mean cup of tea (and he's good at his main job too!)
Name: 
Jonny Birkin

Job: 
Multimedia comms officer (press officer specialising in video production), Derbyshire Constabulary

Starting salary/salary band for the job? 
Grade H

What qualifications do you need? 
A comms-related one ideally, or similar experience. Knowledge of media law is essential for the press officer side of my job, while practical experience behind a lens is critical for the other. However I’m a huge proponent of learning practically, so getting stuck in and figuring things out on the fly is just as important to me as having a few letters after my name.

What level of experience do you need? 
I had zero experience in policing, but working as a journalist at a daily newspaper for five years equipped me with the skills to cope under crushing deadlines, and to write well while doing so. I also have a degree in Film and Television Production (basically three years of messing about with a camera – highly recommended), after which I worked as a freelance cameraman. That practical experience all came together nicely when my multimedia specialist role came about. But I still learn a new editing technique or shooting shortcut pretty much every day. Being able to adapt to new situations and learn new tricks is as important as anything.

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful? 
It’s certainly useful. It was a cultural shock for me, leaving a daily newspaper on the Friday and joining a staggeringly complex public sector organisation on the Monday. Navigating your way through such an organisation can be daunting and frustrating at times, but in some ways it is strikingly similar to being a journalist back in a newsroom; the stories are there, you just have to find the best way to tease them out.

What are the main day-to-day challenges? 
Keeping up with the latest tech, be it changes to the Facebook newsfeed algorithm or the release of a new camera. There’s also the risk that, at any moment, a serious incident will pull the rug from beneath you, and your carefully planned calendar will be obliterated. Having a cool head in such moments is vital.

What is the best part of the job? 
It’s a terrible cliché, but no two days are the same. It can swing from editing a clip about the marriage of two former police cadets in the morning, to leaping into the Golden Hour comms of a murder in the afternoon. In my multimedia role, the camera kit is never far away and that’s another great aspect – having the creative freedom to transform the way we deliver news and appeals to our communities.

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?
That there are four breeds of dog banned in the UK under the Dangerous Dogs Act (Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Braziliero, for those who are curious).

If you get an interview, do say? 
My opening line was telling my prospective boss that I make an absolutely incredible cup of tea and coffee. It broke the ice, and I was later told it helped me stand out against the other candidates. So that’s the tip I would give: be human. Interviews are terrifying, but if you let a glimmer of your personality through then it can make the whole experience easier for everyone. And the tea thing is true, by the way…

If you get an interview, don’t say? 
That your tea/coffee is awful. (I’m joking.) Since it’s a high pressure environment, you should steer clear of anything that would indicate you don’t cope well in such a place.

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to? 
Pretty much any other comms-related job. 

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

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