Chief Press Officer

Whitehall, London
£44,743 to £60,484
12 Nov 2012
19 Nov 2012
Contract Type

The Directorate exists to provide communications advice and delivery in support of the policy objectives of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for the Cabinet Office and other Ministers and senior officials based in the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office. This particular role is in the Efficiency and Reform Group’s communications team and would involve leading the press team that covers many of the Cabinet Office’s highest-profile policy areas.

The successful candidate would report into the Head of Communications & Press Secretary for the Minister for the Cabinet Office, and will: 

  • Work with the Head of Communications to design and implement the media elements of the team’s communications strategies – in particular coming up with creative and off-diary media ideas/stories.
  • Work closely with PR & Planning colleagues and policy advisors to write and produce creative long-term communications strategies and media handling plans and ensure they are targeted at the most appropriate media outlets.
  • Guide the team and advise on the presentation, planning and delivery of high profile news events.
  • Lead on the delivery of high profile news events.
  • Be a principal media adviser for the MCO/ERG communications team.
  • Draft and oversee drafting of media materials as required (e.g. press notices, web copy, social media content, articles, letters).
  • Quality control media communications materials written by the press team.
  • Run the newsdesk, ensuring it delivers in a fast and accurate manner and provides an excellent media monitoring and evaluation service - and plans ahead to make sure all media grids are totally up to date and media lines/statements are prepared and cleared early.
  • Build and maintain a wide network of media contacts.
  • Support the Head of Communications by briefing journalists, dealing with media enquiries and setting up interviews as required.
  • Build and maintain excellent relations with key policy contacts in order to keep abreast of developing policies and offer communications advice accordingly.
  • Maintain close working relations with political communications colleagues within the bounds of propriety.
  • Assess communications risks and advise on media handling of breaking news stories, lead on managing breaking news stories as necessary.
  • Accompany Ministers on visits as an official media adviser and support delivery of media aspects of ministerial visits as necessary.
  • Manage and allocate team members to lead on upcoming announcements.
  • Attend all planning meetings as required.
  • Line Manage the team’s senior press officers, ensuring they are providing a top quality service and are meeting challenging objectives.
  • Deputise for the Head of Communications as required.
  • Ensure that all lines to take and briefing are stored in an accessible database and available to all of the communications team – and that all press office work is properly evaluated.
  • Take part in the out of hours duty rota.

Leading and Teamworking


  • Provides a vision and defines clear team roles, responsibilities and objectives.
  • Takes responsibility and pride in one’s area of work; sets high standards of delivery and leads by example.
  • Builds, leads and actively contributes to high performing teams.
  • Develops talent, motivates and encourages people, especially in a pressured environment.

Managing and Valuing People


  • Is open, honest and polite when dealing with people.
  • Is firm when necessary.
  • Fulfils management responsibilities.
  • Delegates responsibilities as appropriate, monitors performance and ensures delivery of necessary outcomes.
  • Recognises and rewards productive behaviour and provides constructive feedback.

Analysing Evidence and Thinking Strategically


  • Understands Government priorities, wider political and policy environments, and applies this to advising on presentation during policy development as well as delivery.
  • Understands complicated policies and issues quickly and accurately and can summarise key components.
  • Assesses risks, identifies potential negative issues as well as opportunities to promote positives.
  • Predicts likely question areas from the media and ensures appropriate briefing is prepared.
  • Able to demonstrate ability to provide well-judged media handling advice on fast-developing news issues.
  • Stays up-to-date with latest developments in field of expertise.
  • Reviews progress and events to ensure that lessons are learned.

Managing and Supporting Programmes and Projects


  • Able to demonstrate ability to brief journalists on sensitive or complex issues and to deliver successful communications strategies
  • Demonstrates initiative to lead projects in order to deliver outcomes.
  • Demonstrates good organisational skills and punctuality when meeting deadlines.
  • Can work effectively under frequent pressure to immovable deadlines.
  • Demonstrates determination and an ability to deal with competing priorities effectively and calmly.

Managing Finance and Resources


  • Anticipates business needs and manages resource requirements.
  • Takes availability of resources into account when considering communications delivery.
  • Understands and works within finance and personnel policies and procedures, leading by example when incurring expenditure. 

Focusing on Customers and Stakeholders 


  • Experience of building successful relationships with senior colleagues.
  • Excellent inter-personal skills, managing relationships in order to deliver successful outcomes.
  • Builds trust and openness with customers and stakeholders, keeps them updated on progress and acts on feedback.
  • Demonstrates political nous.

Communicating and Marketing 


  • Confident speaker who also writes clearly, concisely and accurately.
  • Provides balanced, accurate and impartial advice, presenting information effectively.
  • Has a clear understanding of the purpose of strategic communication and media handling.
  • Promotes effective information sharing.
  • Chairs or contributes to meetings to help achieve clear results and move business forward.

Specialist Skills/Expertise 


  • Excellent news judgement.
  • Can demonstrate a sound understanding of the current political landscape and outstanding political awareness.
  • Ability to draft and implement communications strategies, making use of wider communications tools.
  • Experience of managing a portfolio of policies as a press officer at a senior level, providing presentational advice to officials on policy in development as well as finally agreed policy. Or, significant front line media/news experience preferably combined with previous line management experience.
  • Excellent writing skills: e.g. drafting articles and scripts for media briefing and recommending media lines to take.
  • Experience of using a wide range of communications channels to reach specific audiences, including social media. Excellent inter-personal skills. The confidence, credibility and experience to brief Cabinet Ministers in person.

Please note that candidates who are invited to interview will be requested to submit a written exercise and complete a written test prior to their interview.