Which is the hardest sector to ply the comms trade in? You’ll have your own views. Policing would certainly rank up there with most but can be a massively rewarding sector to work in too. Here one police head of comms shares his world, and gives the opportunity to join it.
by Gareth Nicholson
Anyone who’s spent more than a couple of years in communications has probably done some strange, startling and sometimes stressful work.
In a virtual show-and-tell culled from the last ten or so years, I’ve put an ABBA tribute band at Plymouth train station, welcomed the accession of eastern European countries into the EU through an Irish and a Romani music night (do not drink honey liqueur like it’s going out of fashion), and tried to convince local media that taking Lowestoft out of Suffolk administratively and putting it into Norfolk was a good idea (think abusive calls in rural accents).
But there have been times of crisis in that time too. Times when you’ve worked for so long that twitch in your left eyelid becomes normal. Times when you’ve done everything you can to defend reputation but your principal officer/Minister/Leader still doesn’t get it. And times when all the work is worthwhile because you’ve changed behaviours and enhanced life chances.
I’ve been head of comms at Essex Police for a year and a bit now. It’s my first job in policing and the last year has convinced me that this sector is among the toughest in which to do our trade.
Every day is a challenge here. Essex is a big county with a voracious and still very much alive and kicking local media. With nearly 1.8million people to serve, the force gets 1300 calls for help every day but, as the lowest funded police force in the country, the resources to deploy to only around half those calls.
Since I started we’ve coped with massive internal change, police front counter closures, highlighting the damage domestic abuse and gang crime does to communities as well as talking about the everyday stories of heroism which our officers shrug off like it’s nothing: they are ordinary people doing an extraordinary job.
And YOU can help them!
I’m looking for a creative, confident and resilient Internal Communications Manager. You’ll have a blank page to set a strategy which brings the force together, increases morale and engagement and supports 5,000 colleagues working across a huge area.
I need three Internal Communications Officers to support that work. You’ll lead the organisation through change, own an interesting and demanding portfolio and help us create new channels to reach our people.
I need a Senior Graphic Designer as adept at that stellar creative concept as they are managing workflow and prioritising commissions from a demanding force.
And I need a Press and PR Officer for at least a 12 month contract working as part of a seven day a week rota helping the force to talk about what we do and to answer the 10,000 plus calls we get from journalists each year.
I’m looking for the skills I know this site promotes – agility, familiarity with digital and video – but it’s the intangibles that really matter too. You’ll need the personal resilience to deal with other people’s catastrophes and stay professional working on highly emotive campaigns. And the perseverance and personal credibility to influence people working some of the busiest jobs in the country.
Gareth Nicholson is Head of Communications at Essex Police
image via Leonard Bentley