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Communications / Marketing

Ministry of Justice press office: Chief Press Officer – 50474
£54,274 – £63,500
London

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We encourage applications from people from all backgrounds and aim to have a workforce that represents the wider society that we serve. We pride ourselves on being an employer of choice. We champion diversity, inclusion and wellbeing and aim to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and a sense of belonging. To find out more about how we do this visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice/about/equality-and-diversity.

Background

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Press Office is recruiting a Chief Press Officer. 

This is a crucial role in our high-performing Press Office, and you will have real influence and responsibility for driving a dynamic team to even greater heights. 

Our press operation is highly valued by the Secretary of State and Ministers for dynamically shaping stories and influencing our department’s work. And our busy policy agenda is never far from the headlines – from cutting reoffending and court backlogs to delivering the biggest prison-building programme in a century and improving the way the justice system treats victims and protects women and girls. This is a challenging but rewarding role in a team that will support you to deliver excellent work as standard.

About the roles 

You will lead a team of press officers on one of our exciting briefs – which could include Prisons; Probation; Courts; Law & Victims; or our busy, reactive Newsdesk. 

Wherever you end up you will be part of a team responsible for delivering a high-quality, 24/7 media-relations operation for Ministers, Executive Agencies and officials across the full range of the department’s brief. 

Day to day, you will drive your team to seek creative ways to generate media coverage, while taking a front-footed approach to managing the risk of criticism . MoJ is a busy department and much of the work is fast-paced and under pressure. As well as leading on high-profile media issues, you will be expected to develop and coach your team to help them perform at a high standard and continue improving. 

You will be expected to hit the ground running, demonstrate your media savvy and show willingness to lead by example. Dynamism and positivity are a must. You’ll quickly become a trusted adviser to Ministers and Special Advisers. And you will bring ideas and energy as part of the senior management team, to help us maintain the high standards and excellent atmosphere in the office. 

These roles can be demanding and you will be expected to bring drive and enthusiasm for both management and media handling, as well as press relations know-how and the ability to impress Ministers. But you will meet this challenge with the full backing of our extremely supportive team and you will be given everything you need to succeed and continue developing your skills and career. We place a huge emphasis on learning & development and have worked hard to develop a culture where everyone’s opinion and insight is treated as important. 

Key responsibilities 

The precise balance of responsibilities will depend on the role. However, you will be expected to:

  • Play an active role in the senior management team – thinking about the wellbeing and capability of the whole office, as well as your own team. You will have the confidence to bring your own ideas and challenge others to ensure sound decision-making.
  • Act as a leader in the office – making considered decisions under pressure and giving confidence and clear direction. You will be expected to help the team understand your thought-process and decision-making to help their own development.
  • Coach your team to bring out the best in their ability and drive their continued development through regular objective setting.
  • Manage a modern media team in developing proactive longer-term handling strategies that set the agenda across the full range of channels.
  • Help drive the use of evaluation and insight, and contribute to improving the Press Office’s understanding and use of digital communication and the changing media landscape.
  • Provide regular media-handling advice on policy briefs to the Secretary of State, Ministers, senior officials and colleagues on sensitive, complex and high-profile issues.
  • Develop strong relationships with journalists and brief them confidently and accurately, ensuring your team can do the same.
  • Anticipate and spot breaking news stories and drive your team to issue swift, robust and appropriate responses.
  • Encourage and facilitate collaboration with other MoJ communications functions, departments and agencies.

These posts are site-specific to London and will report to one of the Deputy Heads of News. You will be expected to adopt a hybrid working pattern including substantial time in the office each week. You will also be expected to participate in a management back-up rota for the out-of-hours duty press officers, for which significant additional payments are made. 

Essential Criteria

You will have a sharp news sense, be politically savvy and possess excellent media skills garnered from relevant press office experience. 

You will have experience of leading others and be able to show evidence of driving high performance. You will have the ability to thrive under pressure, take tough decisions in your stride, and the credibility to instantly impress senior stakeholders, including Ministers. 

Application process 

As part of the application process you are asked to submit a CV and personal statement of suitability.

Your personal statement should be no more than 1,000 words, explaining why you are interested in the role and how your experience makes you the best candidate. 

Please illustrate using examples how you meet the behaviours and technical skills below. For the two behaviours, these can include relevant activities outside of the workplace. 

You may also be required to complete a writing and prioritisation exercise on the day of interview. 

Behaviours 

We’ll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process: 

  • Making effective decisions

Clarify your own understanding and stakeholder needs and expectations, before making decisions. Ensure decision making happens at the right level, not allowing unnecessary bureaucracy to hinder delivery. Encourage both innovative suggestions and challenge from others, to inform decision making. Analyse and accurately interpret data from various sources to support decisions. Find the best option by identifying positives, negatives, risks and implications. Present reasonable conclusions from a wide range of complex and sometimes incomplete evidence. Make decisions confidently even when details are unclear or if they prove to be unpopular.

  • Leadership

Promote diversity, inclusion and equality of opportunity, respecting difference and external experience. Welcome and respond to views and challenges from others, despite any conflicting pressures to ignore or give in to them. Stand by, promote or defend own and team’s actions and decisions where needed. Seek out shared interests beyond own area of responsibility, understanding the extent of the impact actions have on the organisation. Inspire and motivate teams to be fully engaged in their work and dedicated to their role. 

More details on these can be found in the  Civil Service behaviours (PDF).

Technical skills 

We’ll assess you against these technical skills during the selection process: 

Insight

·        Gain an accurate and deep understanding of the issues. Provide robust and deliverable communication advice to ministers and policy colleagues. Understand and interpret the emerging news agenda and factors which affect this agenda.

Ideas 

·        Develop the communication strategy and plan. Demonstrate a robust knowledge of the media landscape. Draw on this expertise to develop innovative, proactive press strategies. Advise on press actions at a senior level and support teams to develop campaigns. Influence the media through proactive forward planning. Develop strategies to protect and improve corporate and government reputation.

Implementation

·        Develop and implement effective communication strategies and plans. Display clear authoritative and sensitive spokespersonship. Actively oversee high-profile, sensitive, high-risk subjects and manage contacts with lead journalists. Lead the press planning and advice in crisis scenarios and manage the press team in developing the crisis response strategy.

Impact

·        Assess the impact and effectiveness of communication. Evaluate impact to shape direction of future media campaigns and lead on implementation of best practice across the press office. 

More details on these can be found in the Government Communication Professional Competency (Technical Skills) Framework (PDF). 

Salary, Working Arrangements & Further Information 

Salary

Existing civil servants on level transfer will retain their level of pay unless this is lower than the starting salary as per MoJ T&Cs. The salary range for Band A staff is £52,845 – £71,411. 

Flexible working hours

The Ministry of Justice offers a flexible working system in many offices. However, the nature of the roles mean working hours can be unpredictable. You will be expected to take part in the out-of-hours duty rota as a back-up manager. These posts are site-specific to London and you will be expected to adopt a hybrid working pattern including substantial time in the office each week. 

Further information

If you have any queries about the application form, terms of employment, the recruitment process or you need any further information about the vacancy you are encouraged to contact:

Richard Jones, Deputy Head of News, richard.jones2@justice.gov.uk / 07805505569.  

Salary

£54,274 - £63,500

Additional Information

Working Arrangements & Further Information

For nationally advertised campaigns, candidates will be appointed to their nearest Justice Collaboration Centre or Justice Satellite Office. This will be discussed and agreed with the successful candidate(s) on the completion of pre-employment checks.

Some of MoJ’s terms and conditions of service are changing as part of Civil Service reform. The changes will apply to staff joining MoJ who are new to the Civil Service. Staff joining MoJ from other civil service employers will transfer onto the new MoJ terms if they are already on ‘modernised’ terms in their current post or onto ‘unmodernised’ MoJ terms if they are on ‘unmodernised’ terms at their current post. Details will be available if an offer is made.

Flexible working hours

The Ministry of Justice offers a flexible working system in many offices.

Benefits

The MoJ offers a range of benefits:

Annual Leave

Annual leave is 25 days on appointment and will increase to 30 days after five years’ service.

There is also a scheme to allow qualifying staff to buy or sell up to three days leave each year. Additional paid time off for public holidays and 1 privilege day. Leave for part-time and job share posts will be calculated on a pro-rata basis.

Pension

The Civil Service offers a choice of pension schemes, giving you the flexibility to choose the pension that suits you best.

Training

The Ministry of Justice is committed to staff development and offers an extensive range of training and development opportunities.

Networks

The opportunity to join employee-run networks that have been established to provide advice and support and to enable the views of employees from minority groups to be expressed direct to senior management. There are currently networks for employees of minority ethnic origin, employees with disabilities, employees with caring responsibilities, women employees, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

Support

  • A range of ‘Family Friendly’ policies such as opportunities to work reduced hours or job share.
  • Access to flexible benefits such as voluntary benefits, retail vouchers and discounts on a range of goods and services.
  • For moves to or from another employer or moves across the Civil Service this can have implications on your eligibility to carry on claiming childcare vouchers. You may however be eligible for alternative government childcare support schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. More information can be found on UKor Childcare Choices. You can determine your eligibility at https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.
  • Paid paternity, adoption and maternity leave.
  • Free annual sight tests for employees who use computer screens.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission’s recruitment principles. Should you feel that the recruitment process has breached the recruitment principles you are able to raise a formal complaint in the following order

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As a Disability Confident employer, MoJ are committed to providing everyone with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills, talent and abilities, by making adjustments throughout all elements of the recruitment process and in the workplace. MoJ are able to offer an interview to disabled candidates who meet the minimum selection criteria, except in a limited number of campaigns.

You will be able to request reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process within the application form. If you need additional help completing the application form, please contact the SSCL Recruitment Enquiries Team.

We encourage applications from people from all backgrounds and aim to have a workforce that represents the wider society that we serve. We pride ourselves on being an employer of choice. We champion diversity, inclusion and wellbeing and aim to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and a sense of belonging. To find out more about how we do this visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice/about/equality-and-diversity.