So, you want my job? Media and public affairs manager at London Air Ambulance

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Alexandra Sutherland's job as media and public affairs manager at London Air Ambulance?

Message to journalists from Alex Sutherland: Sorry for pestering you about referring to Air Ambulance as a charity!
Message to journalists from Alex Sutherland: Sorry for pestering you about referring to Air Ambulance as a charity!

Name:

Alexandra Sutherland. 

Job:

Media and public affairs manager.

Starting salary/salary band for the job:

£34,000-£39,000.

What qualifications do you need? 

I don’t think you need to worry too much about formal qualifications… it should always be about experience and passion for the role. 

What level of experience do you need? 

At least four or five years in a high-profile press office, plus two or three years’ experience working in Westminster, ideally in Parliament. Experience advising senior stakeholders and running campaigns is also important.

Is previous experience in a public-sector comms role necessary/useful? 

Useful, yes; necessary, no. I have a background in politics, so am used to working creatively with small budgets, relationship-building and delivering comms campaigns that have to deliver multiple messages to different audiences – all of which were transferable skills that aided a move into the charity sector.

It is really about finding your particular selling point that is relatable to the job you're applying for. In my case, I had worked on a London Mayoral campaign, so had already built a great understanding of London politics and good relationships with London journalists, which was an advantage moving to a London-centric organisation.

What are the main day-to-day challenges?

Finding time to do all the things I want to do. We are a small charity, but very ambitious, so we don’t shy away from high-profile comms and campaigns. However, with a communications team of seven we have to be realistic about what we can do. I make sure to prioritise the work that will have the most impact on achieving our objectives and, crucially, ensure that we get the message that London’s Air Ambulance is a charity across to press and political stakeholders. Any journalist I have worked with knows that if they don’t mention this they will never be left in peace; I’m going to use this to give a public apology to them!

What is the best part of the job?

Spending time with the people who save lives. They are inspirational to work with and they really help in providing a different perspective and unlocking great story ideas. There’s also nothing like the kick of getting your story in the press and seeing a campaign through from concept to end result. Also, flying over London is pretty cool…

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job?

Trauma kills more people under 45 in the UK than any disease, including cancer. 

If you get an interview, do say…

"I love multi-tasking." No two hours are ever the same as each other here. In one morning last week I was drafting a filming contract, preparing statements for a high-profile inquest, meeting a celebrity supporter and working on PR plans for our 30th anniversary in 2019. 

If you get an interview, don’t say…

"It’s just a job to me." Comms is sales; if you don’t believe in your product it will be obvious and you won’t be able to excite others to believe in your cause. In this charity it means even more, though – it is staffed by people who genuinely love what we do, which is why we are able to run such effective campaigns and have such high brand favourability.  

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to… 

Helicopter-spotter. I know if an aircraft is ours just by listening. Seriously, though, the skills and experiences you gain in a high-profile organisation like this will serve you in good stead in any other fast-paced, progressive company.  

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


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