After four happy years, I’m leaving Northwards Housing. I’m so sad to leave behind the many friends I’ve made, but I know it’s the right decision for me. I’m off to lead the PR team at Wigan Council – a big new job that’s scary and exciting in equal measure.
But before I get my head down in my new role, I really want to hand the baton on to someone who is passionate and excited by the task ahead here at Northwards.
My boss has asked me to help recruit the right person for the role, so I’ve penned a short but honest, warts-and-all letter to my successor.
If you think this job might be for you and you want an informal chat, just email me or call me any time on 07906255962.
Dear New Media and Communications Manager at Northwards Housing,
You are going to have a blast. You are going to walk into this job and have the best time. No day is ever boring at Northwards. You’ll go home every night exhilarated by the wide variety of tasks you’ll do every day.
Some of the work that you’ll do will be traditional public relations. You’ll write some press releases, though not as many as when I started. You’ll develop relationships with trade press and regional journalists and you’ll be prepared to answer press queries on short deadlines. You’ll enjoy the adrenaline of this and will get a wee thrill when a journalist gives you a call. But traditional media skills will only be a small part of the job. Your attentions will be turned to social media – not just bunging on a post or two here and there but cultivating messages to the right audience. You’ll make good videos on a shoestring and you’ll be proud of what you produce.
You’ll work on communicating all the key messages in our communications plan – it’s a skill to be able to spin lots of different plates and sometimes you might drop them. Making mistakes is ok at Northwards, as long as you respond well and put it right. You’ll learn how to prioritise in the face of lots of different demands.
You are going to learn so much. You’ll find yourself in the pub with your friends, chilling out with a pint, waxing lyrical about the bedroom tax or the Housing Bill. You’ll surprise yourself and your friends by driving up the motorway, spotting different road signs and exclaiming: “That’s Nudge Theory in action!”(Yes, that’s actually happened to me.) You’ll develop an interest in psychology and graphic design. But it’s ok if you don’t have that yet, you’ll pick it up if you are eager to develop new skills and don’t mind learning from others.
The communications that you’ll develop will be targeted and you’ll learn to evaluate them to make sure they are doing their job. You’ll learn skills in customer insight and by the end of your time here, you’ll have developed an insanely geeky but limitless love of data analysis.
You’ll help write our business plan and you’ll sit with senior managers and directors to understand where the organisation is going. You’ll write the annual report and you’ll be comfortable reporting to the board, as well as giving the chief executive advice.
There are so many different things you’ll do and you’ll thrive on the variety of that.
Will there be frustrations? Of course there will. Will you become acquainted with a wide range of new and interesting swear words? I f*cking hope so. Because there will be days that you’ll be annoyed by the slow pace of change. Or you’ll find it difficult to convince people of the value of getting comms involved early, where you’ll have the most impact. Or maybe you’ll have to compromise on something, knowing that there’s more that could be done to communicate well with our tenants. It’s also tough working in a public sector environment, where money is tight and there aren’t huge comms budgets. You’ll sometimes feel restricted by that.
But those days will be rare and they’ll be far outnumbered by the days when you know you’ve made a difference. And during those tough times, you’ll be buoyed by a team who know just the right things to say to lift your spirits, who bring sweets and doughnuts and make you laugh.
Your team will inspire your creativity and challenge you to think differently. You’ll learn a lot, every single day. Your boss will challenge you and he’ll ask you to do things that are new. But you’ll be supported every step of the way and you’ll be so chuffed with yourself when you’ve accomplished your tasks.
I’ve kept the most important thing to the end. Because the biggest skill you’ll have will be the skill to get on with people from all walks of life. You’ll be comfortable out on our estates, speaking to tenants and getting case studies. You’ll know how to work hard to get people to trust you, both inside and outside the organisation. You’ll know how to win people over, armed only with a charming smile and a packet of Chocolate Hobnobs (aside here – you’ll need to be good at exercising, because you will eat a LOT OF BISCUITS).
You’ll be empathetic – you won’t get far without that skill here. You’ll be able to feel what other people feel – whether that’s tenants who are struggling to make ends meet or those who are suffering anti-social behaviour. You’ll watch our estates blossom and thrive and you’ll feel the pride of the employees who are making that happen. You’ll leave your desk at the end of the day in the knowledge that you are working in a sector that really truly matters. What’s more important to people than the roof over their head? Our homes are the sanctuaries we make for ourselves and you’ll see how important that is.
And that pride will influence how you communicate. You’ll write better, you’ll work harder. Because you know that it’s worth something – to your colleagues and to the tenants in north Manchester.
This job is a brilliant job. Please apply for it.