Deputy Head of News
Defra Group is recruiting an experienced communications professional to join its energetic and high performing communications team as Deputy Head of News.
This is an exciting opportunity to take on a key leadership role in one of the busiest and most high profile government departments in Whitehall.
Defra’s work is rarely off the front pages – from reducing plastic waste, increasing protection for animals, preventing floods or tackling international wildlife crime. We are also working hard to understand the impact of EU exit on our policies – from fishing and farming to food and drink.
As one of two Deputy Heads of News, you will support the Head of News in leading and managing a team of more than 35 press officers. This team explains and promotes Defra group policy to the public through the full range of channels including print, broadcast, regional, consumer and trade publications and the department’s own dynamic and innovative social and digital channels. This includes the work of Defra Group’s Arm’s Length Bodies including the Environment Agency, the Forestry Commission and Natural England.
The successful candidate will be adept at providing advice to the department, Ministers and SpAds on managing risks and exploiting opportunities around complex and high profile news stories and announcements, while playing a key role in leading the team to develop creative and impactful campaign communications.
This is an exciting and challenging opportunity for a candidate who is able to demonstrate excellent news judgment, strong leadership, creativity and strategic thinking with a keen eye on results and the bigger picture. Crucially, the role requires a tried and tested ability to form productive, effective and professional working relationships with partners inside and outside the department and across Government. You will need to be a problem solver, with a proven experience of leading, influencing and managing change at a senior level in a communications role.
The successful candidate will be expected to engage effectively with policy and operational teams to increase understanding of the media and with colleagues working in other communication disciplines to ensure all communication activity is properly joined up and aligned with the Defra Group communications strategy.
They will also establish strong relationships with key environment correspondents to build media confidence in Defra policies and delivery and to shape the news agenda. You will have lead responsibility for the press office budget, ensuring resources are properly matched with agreed communication priorities.
Working with your peers and the Senior Leadership Team – including the Director of Communications – you will be expected to play a full and active role in the ongoing transformation of Defra Group communications. You will do this to help ensure that all communications functions are efficient and unified to provide a seamless service, which achieves outcomes which are evaluated against strategic objectives and goals. You will help further embed a culture of proactivity, flexibility and collaboration in teams across the Group to make sure we are delivering the very best communications.
You will take part in an out-of-hours duty rota to provide support both to the team and the wider department and Government as required – particularly with regard to projects and professional development work led by the Government Communication Service (GCS).
Person Profile Essential:
• Significant experience of media relations across the full range of channels for high profile, large and complex organisations under often intense public and political scrutiny and requiring frequent contact with national media organisations and journalists;
• A track record of developing and delivering proactive communications strategies that enhance the reputation of an organisation, as part of an integrated and unified communications function;
• Proven knowledge of digital, broadcast and print media, and an appreciation of the rapid pace at which stories move in a 24/7 communications environment;
• A track record of gaining the confidence of and influencing senior stakeholders at Secretary of State/Ministerial and Director General level;
• Excellent written and oral communications skills and ability to brief on complex issues rapidly, presenting in a clear and concise manner and identifying key messages;