So, you want my job? Senior media manager, Acas

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Shumon Ali-Rahman's job as senior media manager at Acas?

Do you know the difference between arbitration, conciliation and mediation? asks Shumon Ali-Rahman
Do you know the difference between arbitration, conciliation and mediation? asks Shumon Ali-Rahman


Shumon Ali-Rahman.


Senior Media Manager, Acas.

Starting salary/salary band for the job? 


What qualifications do you need?

A degree or a professional qualification in PR or journalism helps in any PR role, but it’s more important that you have experience dealing with journalists, running proactive campaigns and managing people. 

What level of experience do you need?

My role involves managing staff, advising the chief exec, chair and senior Acas officials on media handling/PR. You would need to demonstrate an aptitude for being the main port of call within an organisation for media-handling, external crisis communications and reputation-management advice. 

The job can range from drafting press notices or media briefings to PR advice on a confidential workplace dispute or advising the social-media team on a potential PR issue that’s come up on Twitter. We’re a small, multidisciplinary comms team, so you will need to be able to form good working relationships quickly, multi-task, work well under pressure and evaluate your comms work to demonstrate success. 

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

It’s not essential but definitely useful! I worked as a journalist first and then moved to the Central Office of Information. After a couple of years, I moved to Whitehall, where I realised The Thick of It was actually a fly-on-the-wall documentary series and not a satire at all…

In all seriousness, my Whitehall experience was immensely beneficial for my career as a comms professional. I was involved in countless high-profile news stories such as Swine Flu, the 7/7 terrorist attacks and promoting NHS dentistry. This all came in useful when Acas got involved in the Junior Doctors’ dispute a few years ago. 

What are the main day-to-day challenges?

Acas is unique in that we are governed by an independent council that includes business, academic and trade union reps. We provide impartial workplace advice to employers and employees and we also provide a conciliation service to help resolve disputes at work.

There are many occasions when I’d love to have shouted from the roof tops about an amazing Acas success story, but I couldn’t because it was all confidential! Due to our impartiality, our external comms challenge is about trying to send out a message that’s strong enough to get media attention/coverage without compromising our neutrality. It means having to be a savvy wordsmith with strong political judgement, but I do enjoy the challenge.

What is the best part of the job?

Everyone is friendly – the comms team is like a small family and the senior management team is very open, friendly and approachable. We’re also willing to try out fun and wacky ideas, such as putting out a World Cup footie Acas guidance press notice that has a series of football puns in a Sir Brendan Barber quote… (which got us oodles of media interest!)

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

Arbitration, conciliation and mediation are not the same thing, but a lot of journalists use the terms interchangeably (this is more of a geeky than unusual fact, to be honest).

If you get an interview, do say…

I’ve looked at your website, social-media channels, blogs and press notices and would love to help you raise awareness among young people about the amazing work you do.

If you get an interview, don’t say…

I love UCAS, you lot do a really important job in getting people to university…

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

Being a diplomat! Or doing PR for an organisation that represents different groups that may frequently have opposing viewpoints.

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

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