POLL READING: You know you work in public sector comms when…


Growing up my Dad was a town planner and he’d talk about the draft UDP over the dinner table. I thought this was normal but it turns out it wasn’t.

Growing up dad would be awake at 2am editing committee reports by writing in the margin with a biro. I thought this was normal but it turns out it wasn’t.

Overall, around a quarter of the working population work for the public sector.

There are some brilliantly talented people in that number who literally save lives.

But to be a communicator in the public sector brings a whole boat-load of headaches. No budget, no time, no staff and not much professional respect at time, either.

For almost 15 years I’ve been part of this tribe as a communicator in-house in the public sector and then self-employed working with them.

What are public sector communicators like?

Stoic, talented, long suffering and determined.

I thought I’d crowd-source a list of other opinions too via the Public Sector Comms Headspace Facebook group.

You know you work in the public sector when…

Everyone can do your job. – Kate Pratt.

You spot grammatical errors everywhere – Donna Veasey

You can’t post anything on social media without someone being upset – Mary Willis

You’re actually a magician in disguise – Debra Kerr

You do the best you can despite the red tape that is trying to strangle you – Lynnette Lee

You have no budget – Menna Rowlands

Someone asks you to promote their event and sends you a publisher file full of wordart – Nick Moore

The team really needs a toolkit to promote their roadmap…. there are no tools, there’s not a road – Maria Vidal Read

When your team has shrunk by 60% over the last nine years, you’re doing 2.7 jobs, you haven’t paid for training since 2011, but you’re still doing an effing great job every day. Josephine Graham

 It takes a month to get sign-off for a press release about a coffee morning – Scott Watson

You spend too much time getting the perfect photographic angle of the ladies toilets for an intranet post. Richard Birch

Every day you find people doing a bloody fantastic job, but they’re not telling anyone because they think it’s no big deal. – Lisa Potter

When the solution to everything is a poster – Jane Harris

Your private sector pals go to New York for work. You go to meetings across town & feel like you’ve had a proper day out – Penny Allison

When sometimes you do, in fact, make a small difference. And that is good enough. – Sara Hamilton

You ask for a one page summary and they give you seven – Sally-Ann Watts

There are three CIPR courses you want to attend. They offer member discount. Joining and getting the discount is cheaper than paying full price for the courses. So you join, book the courses and save the council £250. Finance then get in touch and say “we don’t pay for professional memberships, so you’ll need to repay us the membership fee out of your own pocket”.

Friends ask you to design their small business logo all the time. No mention of payment. – Kirsten Woods

You get all the calls that should go to IT – David Burrows

Your work phone is a blackberry – Katie Stephenson

You take great delight in track changing a non-comms colleagues ‘draft press release’ and sending it back to them – Royce Coates

You get an email saying “just a quick heads up that X is happening…” on the day it’s actually happening. – Chris Gomm

 When your only budget is a metaphorical pot of glitter and you’ve become a dab hand at rolling do do and winging it – Sacha Taylor 

When purdah starts and people think you suddenly have nothing else to do and have lots of capacity. – Julie Heath

People think your job is to whiz up a PowerPoint presentation or come up with a snazzy diagram – Alison Hollinshead Tobin 

You have a Mac and IT hates you – Mark Roberts

Telling the service’s bad news to politicians, becomes a comms thing. – Kim Inam

Your log in password is longer than your phone number and YouTube is blocked by IT so you can’t watch the videos you’ve created! – Paul Fearn

All of the above – but you still do the job and love it! – Paula Duxbury Lowe

Picture credit: Flickr / Documerica


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