Non Executive Directorships

Ministry of Defence – Head of External Communications

Location: MOD

Date Posted: 08/12/2020

Closing Date: 03/01/2021

£71,000 pa

2021 will be a key year for Defence. The Government’s Integrated Review of Defence, Security and Foreign Policy will be a defining moment for the future of the MOD and the armed forces. The review comes at a time of rising international tensions. State-based threats have re-emerged. Both Russia and Iran are growing increasingly assertive on the world stage. The MOD’s Head of External Communications will be required to work across Government on both the Integrated Review and on the UK’s national security posture and response to destabilising state-based activity. With the UK’s departure from the EU, 2021 also brings communication opportunities to demonstrate the UK’s ongoing commitment to international security through our armed forces’ global reach.

Reporting to the Director of Defence Communications, the Head of External Communications is responsible for:

  • News management and creation
  • Protecting and enhancing Defence’s reputation.
  • The Directorate of Defence Communications External Communications arm which oversees some 50 posts with a 24/7 news team, a proactive content-producing campaign function and speechwriters at the heart of that effort.
  • Playing a full and proactive role in the Directorate of Defence Communications Leadership team and leading a team to deliver high quality communication services.

Specific Responsibilities

Leadership and Management

  • Play a full and proactive role in the Directorate of Defence Communications leadership team, deputising for the Director of Defence Communications when appropriate.
  • Lead on news management and creation.
  • Lead a diverse team of around 50 people, military and civilian, both in central London and when required in key operational locations ensuring a high-quality service for the Department and building Directorate of Defence Communications’ reputation across Whitehall.
  • Set clear deliverable communication objectives and delegate clearly and effectively to achieve work and generate output and content in a timely fashion and to the highest standard.
  • Contribute strong ideas for implementing and leading change at a time of transformation for DDC.
  • Actively encourage synergy across all delivery arms with the Directorate of Defence Communications Strategy and Plans area to work together and add value to deliver Departmental objectives and with Departments across Whitehall in the interests of cross-Government communications priorities.
  • Direct line management of three Grade 6s.
  • Provide coaching/training and development by mentoring the Deputy Head and Chief Comms Officer cadre.
  • To lead, inspire and grow the capability of all elements of the External Communications teams.

Strategic Communications Oversight and Implementation

  • Act as Press Secretary for the Defence Secretary and the MoD’s Chief spokesperson and to maintain strategic oversight of the MoD’s news teams.
  • Work closely with the Ministers and the military Chiefs and other senior personnel on strategic and organisational issues, areas of reputation risk and specific communication matters.
  • Oversee an interactive digitally driven external communications operation that actively seeks to anticipate and influence media coverage and identify trends to inform media and communications activity across the PR delivery area, the wider Department and non-departmental bodies.
  • Drive and develop the strategic planning process from an early stage working with communications teams across Directorate of Defence Communications, policy teams, Private Offices and Special Advisors to produce robust multi audience delivery plans to inform communications activity that harness and utilise all available channels and platforms.
  • Engage proactively in high level senior cross-Government planning efforts including No.10 meetings and the work of partner departments.
  • Be the primary point of contact for and provide professional and comprehensive communications and media handling advice to Ministers, Chiefs and senior officials.

Setting Direction and Delivering Results

  • Developing and overseeing proactive content development and reactive multi channelled strategies to deliver a coherent, consistent and combined approach for all elements of media handling activity and longer term attitudinal changing communications campaigns, in order to best communicate the purpose and effectiveness of Defence policy and activity.
  • Setting the strategic direction for the planning and delivery of communications and social/ digital engagement work informed by an in-depth understanding of the evolving media and political landscapes.
  • Shaping and influencing external and internal stakeholders including Ministers, Special Advisors, officials, the military, the media – both correspondent and editorial – and other Government departments, to deliver the right communications results for Defence.
  • The individual should be a key influencer in the MoD, advocating for, and giving a voice to the Directorate of Defence Communications
  • The individual has strong relationships with senior leaders in the department, across Whitehall and the political and ministerial team.
  • Output-driven and focused on strength of product, directing output across communications channels – both traditional and evolving – and teams within Directorate of Defence Communications and ensuring a continuity of effort and coherence of message for more sustained longer-term campaigns, features and documentaries.

About You:

The role requires sophisticated and extensive media relations, PR and campaigns experience, and a proven track record in using media and communication channels to deliver organisational aims and objectives. However, even more critical to your success in this role will be your outstanding interpersonal and leadership skills, your ability to lead and fully integrate teams across the communications spectrum and to prioritise, resolve issues and conflict.

It is essential in your application that you provide evidence and proven examples in each of the following selection criteria below in so far as you are able to. These responses will be further developed and discussed with those candidates invited for interview.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Demonstrable success in developing and implementing compelling communications strategies in a complex organisation to enable and drive organisational objectives and priorities.
  • A proven track record of providing clear, balanced advice and professional leadership at senior management level on a wide range of strategic, operational, sensitive and complex communications issues.
  • A proven track record of media and defence correspondent management, stakeholder influence and delivery.
  • A proven track record of creative ideas, stories, and external content.
  • A proven track record of successfully developing high-performing teams, leading, managing and motivating others, especially during periods of change, and a record of driving continuous improvement within the communications function.
  • Experience of using effective communication and engagement techniques in respect of media relations, campaigns to protect and enhance reputation.
  • Evidence of highly developed interpersonal and influencing skills with a demonstrable ability to develop and maintain effective relationships with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders up to Ministerial level.
  • Experience of budget management, including identifying and realising no/low-cost ways of delivering communications.
  • Experience of creating innovative communication strategies using digital channels and new media.

Closing date: 3rd January 2021

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