Could you brief a journalist on a complicated topic ten minutes before they go live on air? What are we doing to reform probation, increase judicial confidence in community sentences and stop organised criminals from smuggling contraband into prisons? How would you tell a Government Minister that you disagree with them…and then convince them why? Do offenders get a better deal out of the justice system than their victims?
If these challenges and issues sound exciting rather than terrifying – please apply now to be a Ministry of Justice press officer. You are exactly who we’re looking for.
We want dynamic, hard-working, passionate people to throw themselves into our busy, friendly team.
We are highly-valued by the Secretary of State and Ministers for shaping stories and influencing our department’s work. Our busy policy agenda is never far from the headlines. This includes reforming prisons and probation to improve public safety and reduce re-offending; undertaking the biggest programme of court reform anywhere in the world; and improving the way the justice system treats victims.
About External Communications
You will be part of a team responsible for delivering a high quality 24/7 media relations operation for Ministers, Executive Agencies and senior officials across the department’s brief.
We have teams of press officers on specialist desks taking the initiative and seeking imaginative ways to generate positive, informed media coverage. They are complemented by a planning team liaising with No.10, coordinating announcements and horizon scanning; and a dedicated reactive newsdesk that responds to breaking news stories, manages interview bids and briefs regional, national and specialist journalists on key issues leading the news each day.
There are vacancies across the team, but whichever one you work on you will be welcomed, challenged and given all the support you need to do your job well and develop as a press officer.
You should be comfortable with regular face to face contact with Ministers and special advisors and confidently provide them with media handling advice on announcements, visits and speeches. You will set up and manage media facilities, organise interviews, draft sharp reactive statements and brief journalists in order to generate and influence our coverage.
The exact balance of responsibilities will depend on the role, however, you will be expected to:
- Develop proactive longer-term handling strategies and provide regular media handling advice to the Secretary of State, Ministers, senior officials and colleagues on sensitive, complex and high profile issues.
- Anticipate and spot breaking news to issue swift, robust and appropriate responses.
- Use the full range of channels in promoting our priorities, maximising digital tools and using relevant insight to get the best possible results.
- Develop and maintain strong relationships with Ministers, private offices, special advisers, senior officials, journalists, stakeholders and colleagues in other departments.
- Work effectively with the wider press office team and with communications colleagues so that press handling plans are joined up with wider communications strategies.
- Understand departmental and Ministerial priorities so you can communicate key messages clearly, accurately and creatively to media.
You would also contribute to the out-of-hours service, for which overtime is paid.
Skills & Qualifications
- You will have a sharp news sense, excellent judgement, strong political savvy and outstanding media skills gained from working in a communications environment.
- The ability to build effective relationships and use them to influence others and negotiate diplomatically is essential.
- You should have the confidence and ability to deal with senior people and challenge them where appropriate.
You will be required to provide evidence that you have the following competencies from the Civil Service Competency Framework:
Engaging People – Collaborating and partnering
Delivering Results – Delivering at pace
You are expected to be proficient in each of the Government Communication Service (GCS) competencies to IO level particularly skills and knowledge under the ‘Press and Media’ discipline. The brief summary below is not exhaustive - you should examine the full version on the GCS website.
- Understand how to optimise audience reach through a mix of media channels, including news aggregators.
- Work up ideas for stories and case studies that support communication and business/policy objectives.
- Develop and nurture excellent relationships with journalists and contacts (e.g. bloggers) in all forms of media, to improve story placement and check progress.
- Conduct media monitoring and evaluation to assess reach to target audiences and delivery of key messages.
Salary, Working Arrangements & Further Information
For reference salary range for this post is £30,389 - £37,806 plus generous overtime payments for participation in the out of hours rota. 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. In all cases, overtime is paid pro rata for out of hours duties.
Flexible working hours
The Ministry of Justice offers a flexible working system in many offices. However, the nature of the roles means these posts are not suitable for reduced hours. Like most government press offices, our roles mean working hours can be unpredictable at times. You will be expected to take part in the out of hours duty rota, which is rewarded through generous overtime payments.