So, you want my job? Comms manager, Office for Nuclear Regulation

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Jo deBank's job as comms manager at the Office for Nuclear Regulation?

Jo deBank: Can you tell you everything you need to know about reactor pressure vessels
Jo deBank: Can you tell you everything you need to know about reactor pressure vessels
Name: 
Jo deBank

Job:
Comms manager, Office for Nuclear Regulation 

Starting salary/salary band for the job? 
Around £36,000.

What qualifications do you need? 
A PR/marketing qualification or degree is useful, but career experience and ability are also considered. 

What level of experience do you need? 
You’d need experience of dealing with colleagues at board and executive level, as well as knowledge of governmental priorities – but being able to translate complex policy and regulatory decision-making into themes and copy that the public understands is essential.

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful? 
It’s not absolutely necessary, but definitely gives you the edge. As an arms-length body, experience of dealing with government departments is incredibly helpful and familiarity with regulation and regulatory policy will give you a headstart, too.

What are the main day-to-day challenges? 
Translating science, engineering and regulatory judgements (they are rarely black and white but have plenty of grey areas) so the public can easily understand our decision-making is a daily challenge. Contrary to the received wisdom that journalists and PR are on opposite sides, the downsizing of editorial and news teams, with much less time to actually talk to journalists one-to-one, has meant content is often harder to place and much harder to contextualise. If all content is viewed as ‘spin’ and ‘opinion’ by the readers, that’s no good for a public body like us which relies on public trust and confidence of the public. I’m currently leading the comms on a project setting up the post-Brexit UK nuclear safeguards regime.

What is the best part of the job? 
The fact that I can have a passable conversation about reactor pressure vessels, quality deviations of certain welds and the half-life of uranium-238 would surprise and delight my parents and teachers. It’s less popular at parties, though. 

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job? 
As someone who did no chemistry at school at all, any fact at all about uranium or plutonium leaves me wide-eyed…

If you get an interview, do say? 
Make sure you’re multidisciplinary: PR, media relations, stakeholder, insight, digital – all part of the mix.  At this level, it’s how you add value and what insight you provide.

If you get an interview, don’t say? 
"I’m pro-nuclear/anti-nuclear". This role is not about the whys and wherefores of the policy principles: it’s about communicating the work our colleagues do ensuring the nuclear industry is safe and secure, holding it to account on behalf of the public. We are not the industry, and we are not lobbyists. 

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to? 
It’s a great jumping point to make the next move into a private or third sector role: being a successful communicator with good knowledge of a regulated sector is invaluable. 

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

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