So, you want my job? Head of media at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Sam Matthews' job as head of media at BEIS?

There is a small corner of Oxfordshire that is hotter than the sun, says Sam Matthews
There is a small corner of Oxfordshire that is hotter than the sun, says Sam Matthews
Name:
Sam Matthews

Job:
Head of media at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)

Starting salary/salary band for the job?
Civil Service Grade 6

What qualifications do you need?
I’d say experience of leading teams and devising effective multi-channel comms strategies are more important than specific qualifications. The Government Communication Service (GCS) invests in developing staff on-the-job. I recently gained a postgraduate qualification in Strategic Communications Leadership from Huddersfield University.

What level of experience do you need?
You will certainly need a strong journalism or media background – and experience of strategic comms is preferable. Like many others doing similar roles across Government, I began my career as a journalist on local papers, first as a reporter and then a news editor. Understanding how journalists work stood me in good stead to work in the Home Office press office promoting Identity Cards (remember them?) and immigration law reforms. A few years in a defence and security role expanded my comms skills beyond press relations. For example, I helped create a new website and oversaw a public correspondence team, which was eye-opening – and occasionally hair-raising.

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful?
The private and public sectors can learn a lot from each other. Knowing your way around the Civil Service is probably an advantage but not essential. Fresh perspectives always have an energising effect. We are currently recruiting for two chief media officers and I’d welcome applications from the private or public sector. 

What are the main day-to-day challenges?
You need good personal resilience. Being the interface between the Government and the media is not for the faint-hearted. Responding quickly to evolving news stories that draw in several departments can be a real test of that resilience.

What is the best part of the job?
The old cliché that no two days are the same. You see ‘behind the curtain’ how the Government really works to build a Britain fit for the future. 

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?
A small corner of Oxfordshire is the hottest place in the solar system – many times hotter than the sun: the JET nuclear fusion reactor in Culham.

If you get an interview, do say?
I’ve got some great ideas to promote the modern Industrial Strategy and get people in every corner of Britain excited about its Grand Challenges.

If you get an interview, don’t say?
I prefer to work on my own… can only really focus on one task at a time… I try to avoid social media… I don’t read tabloids….

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to?
If you are a strategic and creative thinker, thrive under pressure, can cope with uncertainty and understand the media, you can do pretty much anything.

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

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