Deputy Director, Group Head of Local Communications- DEFRA

London (Greater)
Maximum £75,000
25 Jul 2017
15 Aug 2017
Contract Type
Full Time

This is an exciting opportunity to take on a key leadership role in the Defra’s group Communications team at a time of significant change.

Reporting to the Group Director of Communications, you will be responsible for building and leading a proposed new integrated Local Communications team which will deliver operational and area-based communications, as part of the single Defra group Communications team. Working to support a range of organisations within the Defra group, including Animal and Plant Health Agency, Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Natural England and Rural Payments Agency, the role will have a wide-ranging remit.

The communications challenge across the Defra group is one of the most complex and exciting opportunities in public sector communications. You will be joining at a unique time of change in the department and across its agencies and ALBs as Defra responds to EU exit and goes through a wide-ranging transformation programme, which includes the creation of one of the Government’s first group-wide communications team.

A key responsibility of the team will be to strengthen Defra group’s connection to local places, communities, partners and media. The post-holder will be required to develop strong relationships with Defra group’s delivery bodies and ALBs, acting as a champion for local communications as a key element of Defra’s overall communications strategy both for national campaigns and to support business delivery.

The proposed team will also be the first line of response for incidents such as flooding or animal disease outbreaks, so the post requires strong leadership skills and the ability to remain calm under pressure; the capability to lead and motivate people across different locations; and proven experience of crisis communications. 

You’ll provide high-level support and advice to the Chief Executives of Defra group organisations, particularly during incidents, requiring highly developed operational knowledge and political sensitivity and a track record of delivering demonstrably effective, efficient and exceptional communications across a wide range of audiences.

As part of Defra group Communications’ transformation programme, the post-holder will play a leading role in the Organisation Design (OD) of the new single group Communications team – specifically to design, build and embed the proposed Local Communications team  tasked with delivering the strategy and tactics for communications to a range of communities, and across all local communications channels. This will cover issues as diverse as flooding and flood risk, water and air quality, forestry and countryside stewardship and a range of Defra group policies.

You’ll work closely with Defra group’s proposed national Media team and proposed Campaigns & Strategy team to ensure the Government’s environmental, food, and rural affairs agenda is communicated clearly and effectively to local audiences and effectively complements national communications activity. 

Responsibilities include:

  • Providing regular and trusted advice to senior Executives, Directors and officials across organisations in the Defra Group on local communications issues to support business and operational delivery;
  • Building and maintaining effective working relationships with local media covering the work of Defra and its agencies, and with counterparts in key regional external partner organisations;
  • Leading on local incident response communications for Defra and its wider network as required, including providing external communications advice and support to the Executive Agencies and NDPBs; and ensuring there is up-to-date information to partners and the public for Defra and its wider network as required;
  • Providing active and visible leadership to the proposed Local Communications team, ensuring high motivation, connection across the regions, and maintaining a consistent high standard of delivery;
  • Supporting the development of and implementing a Defra-wide external communications strategy, maintaining local communications on a proactive footing, ensuring Defra group’s work in local places is championed, that local insight informs national communications activity, and delivery of local content to give national and local campaigns greater resonance with audiences;
  • Working with colleagues in the proposed Strategy and Campaigns team to shape, deliver and evaluate the local element of  external campaigns, ensuring cut-through to local audiences and maximum effectiveness for communications across the full range of local channels;
  • Representing Defra at GCS groupings, offering advice and support on Government’s local communications agenda, and ensuring the proposed Defra group Local Communications Team’s full involvement in helping create vibrant regional GCS professional networks, including GCS Local;
  • Work with the Group Director of Communications and Transformation Team to design the proposed structure of the Defra group Local Communications team, building on the Local Communications work-stream organisation design, and staff and client engagement and consultation work to date;
  • Working with the Transformation Team, oversee integration of staff into the new Defra group Communications structure, in line with Defra HR policy, embedding new ways of working and motivating team to high levels of performance;
  • Act as visible leader and advocate for the Defra Communications Transformation Programme, embodying the new Defra group Comms values and behaviours, and building on the diversity, talent and skills of team members.