So, you want my job? Head of media, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Rebecca Smith's job as head of media for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence?

Tell the interviewer you cycled there after reading NICE exercise guidelines, advises Rebecca Smith
Tell the interviewer you cycled there after reading NICE exercise guidelines, advises Rebecca Smith
Rebecca Smith

Head of media, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

Starting salary/salary band for the job? 
NHS Agenda for Change band 8b

What qualifications do you need? 
Relevant degree or extensive experience in a busy press office or newsroom.

What level of experience do you need?
I came to NICE having worked as a journalist for 15 years, the last seven of which were as medical editor on The Daily Telegraph. In fact I had interviewed CEO Andrew Dillon a number of times so I knew NICE as an organisation and understood how it fitted into the healthcare landscape. Experience of interviewing the chief exec was not listed in the requirements but knowledge of the breadth of work that NICE undertakes certainly helped.

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful?
I didn’t have any experience working in the public sector so I have to say no. But I did come to the job with more than ten years’ experience covering health as a journalist so I knew exactly what makes a good health story, what journalists need and how best to frame messages.

What are the main day-to-day challenges?
We have to juggle a lot of interests in our work. NICE provides guidance on a huge range of topics from IVF to air pollution, from child abuse to cutting-edge cancer drugs. Each of these guidelines will have a slightly different audience so we have a huge range of stakeholders. Each of the press officers is expert in their collection of topics and has to stay abreast of what is happening internally as well as outside the organisation, for example in research trials, charities, campaign groups, patient organisations, courts and inquests, think-tanks and government policy.

What is the best part of the job?
NICE is in the national news pretty much every week, so I get the same kind of buzz I did as a journalist, seeing our stories (usually) covered well. I also really enjoy developing the team, seeing people grow and use their new skills to ensure we have great content. And I love that we are always trying something new. Since I started two years ago we have launched on three new social media platforms, we have an animated family explaining our guidance on Instagram and we have launched a really engaging monthly podcast called NICEtalks.

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job? 
That NICE has even produced guidance on poo transplants.

If you get an interview, do say?
I cycled here after reading NICE guidance on physical activity and the outdoor environment.

If you get an interview, don’t say?
NICE rations drugs doesn’t it?

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to?
Any comms role in the health sector, public or private, would be a natural move from NICE but the skills of managing a medium-sized team, using news judgement, spotting pitfalls and supporting stakeholders could be used in any comms sphere.

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

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