Head of News & Digital, NIO (Ref:43430)

Northern Ireland Office

Apply before 11:55 pm on Monday 17th May 2021


Reference number



£52,119 - £76,000
Salary will depend on location


Grade 6
MoJ Grade 6

Contract type

Fixed Term

Length of employment

Up to 2 years with the possibility of a third by mutual agreement

Type of role

Communications / Marketing

Working pattern


Number of posts




About the job


Please refer to Job Description

Job description

We welcome and encourage applications from everyone, including groups currently underrepresented in our workforce and pride ourselves as being an employer of choice. To find out more about how we champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice/about/equality-and-diversity


Post Vacant
Grade 6 – Head of News & Digital

Belfast (preferred) or London
If the candidate does not live in Northern Ireland, please be advised that very regular travel to Belfast will be required.

The post is offered on a two year loan/ secondment for existing civil servants and a two year Fixed Term Contract for external applicants with a possibility of an extension for a further year.

Applications Invited From
Existing Home Civil Service staff at Grade 6 or analogous grades on level transfer or at Band A on temporary promotion. External candidates with comparable skills or experience.
(Salary scale: Inner London £60,295 -£76,000 and National £52,119 -£72,000)
(A Recruitment and Retention Allowance is available for Belfast-based staff up to a maximum of £6,000 for Band 6, bringing the effective band minima up to £58,119. New entrants to the Civil Service are expected to join on the minimum of the pay band advertised for the respective locations of the role.)

Closing Date
12 May 2021

Who we are

Inclusion and diversity

The Northern Ireland Office is committed to being an inclusive employer with a diverse workforce. We encourage applications from people from the widest possible diversity of backgrounds, cultures and experiences.
We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates, as they are under-represented within the NIO at this level.
The Northern Ireland Office strives to be an inclusive employer and is recognised by its staff and externally as being an employer where Diversity and Inclusion are valued.
We hold a Diversity & Inclusion Charter Mark and are an accredited Disability Confident Leader organisation.

In March 2018 we won the award for Best Employer for Diversity & Equality in Northern Ireland (small employer category) in a Gala Award ceremony hosted by Legal-Island, a multi-award winning workplace compliance company based in Northern Ireland.
We have an active D&I network supporting colleagues through D&I Advocates, championed by our Directors.
We want all our people to feel valued for who they are and we are confident that you will find the NIO a warm, welcoming and inclusive place to work.

What we do


The Northern Ireland Office represents Northern Ireland interests at a UK Government level and UK Government interests in Northern Ireland. We have a wide range of responsibilities, including: underpinning political stability in Northern Ireland; overseeing the Northern Ireland devolution settlement; leading on national security policy in Northern Ireland; addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past; delivering elections and constitutional reform in Northern Ireland; playing a key role in rebalancing the NI economy; representing NI interests, including on the border with Ireland, as the UK exits the EU. Our small size and diverse portfolio create a stimulating, fast-paced and challenging working environment, with regular engagement with a range of Ministers and senior officials. We support flexible working and have a modern, flexible IT system which helps enable this.

About the role:

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) is recruiting for a Head of News & Digital (G6). This is a crucial role for delivering the UK Government’s priorities for Northern Ireland. It provides a great opportunity to work at the centre of government, on a fast-paced agenda to deliver tangible results for Northern Ireland. The successful candidate will be a visible ambassador for the NIO.
The Head of News & Digital is crucial to the NIO senior leadership team. You will be expected to hit the ground running, quickly becoming a trusted adviser to the Secretary of State, Ministers and Special Advisers. You must be capable of making a significant contribution to the smooth operation of the whole Communications Directorate
We are looking for an experienced communicator with a highly developed news sense, political nous and experience of dealing with complex issues in a fast-paced environment, subject to significant media attention and public scrutiny. You will have the confidence to brief the media on thorny issues and be responsible for a high-quality 24-hour media operation that delivers fast, accurate, co-ordinated responses to media queries.

You should have demonstrable experience of acting as a digital lead or specialist within a communications environment, knowing how to commission and use research and insight to deliver high quality outcomes. You will be responsible for developing and delivering high quality digital communications, integrated with wider communications activity to support NIO priorities.
You will also work with partners across the Territorial Offices and the wider Government Communications Service (GCS) community in the Cabinet Office to build a joined-up approach to communications, using your experience in digital media evaluation and expertise in a range of channels to effectively target key audiences.
You will be a trusted voice at all levels within the department, providing advice to ministers and senior officials, and acting as a strategic adviser to deliver targeted, integrated communications across digital and traditional channels.
This is a fantastic opportunity to work in an area demanding strategic oversight, leadership, and innovation. We can offer you a competitive package, an excellent range of training and development opportunities, a friendly and supportive team and, above all, the chance to play a key role in communicating the most important issues in Northern Ireland today.

Duties and Responsibilities:

Manage a modern media team in developing proactive longer-term handling strategies that set the agenda across the full range of channels, while managing a busy and reactive newsdesk.
Oversee media handling advice on policy briefs to the Secretary of State, Ministers, senior officials and colleagues on sensitive, complex and high-profile issues.
Understand departmental and Ministerial priorities and convey them to your team so they can communicate the key messages clearly, accurately and creatively to the media.
Anticipate and spot breaking news stories and drive your team to issue swift, robust and appropriate responses.
Have personal impact in the full range of media work, from briefing journalists to advising ministers face-to-face.
Ensure the team is using the full range of channels in promoting our priorities, maximising digital tools and using relevant insight to get the best possible results.
Play a full part in the press office senior management team. Act as a leader in the office, delivering the NIO communications strategy and help the smooth running of the Communications Directorate in and out of hours.
Provide support and direction to the team, with particular attention to their learning and development.
Take responsibility for upskilling the team to achieve the best output and performance based on changing priorities.


Oversee digital communication and media plans to ensure activities are targeted, measurable and deliver on NIO priorities.
Initiate and lead development of reactive and proactive digital media campaigns that build on insight and tracking data.
Demonstrate excellent written communication skills and set standards for communication. Provide overall editorial control to ensure appropriate content, messaging, tone and consistency in all communication.
Evaluate the effectiveness of communication against objectives. Review lessons learnt and compare with industry best practice to identify areas of improvement.
You will also be expected to participate in a management back-up rota for the out-of-hours duty press officers

Personal attributes and skills

As an experienced communicator with a proven track-record in digital and press office activity, you will:

• have proven experience of leading teams in a high profile press office and have demonstrable evidence of leading a team of digital specialists within a busy communications environment.
• have a sharp news sense, be politically savvy and possess outstanding media skills garnered from relevant press office experience.
• have experience of leading large teams and be able to show evidence of driving high performance. You will have the ability to thrive under pressure, take tough decisions in your stride, and the credibility to instantly impress senior stakeholders.
• have excellent organisational skills and be nimble enough to work at a fast pace, prioritise competing tasks and meet tight deadlines.
• be proficient in leading and developing digital communication strategies: setting measurable communication objectives, KPI’s, measuring outcomes and ROI to evaluate the impact of a comms activity or campaign.
• have experience of budget management and financial planning.
• be confident in thinking innovatively to create no cost and low cost opportunities to engage our target audiences.
• be able to develop strategic alliances with key external partners to co-create and collaborate on content and campaigns - amplifying our messages to increase the reach and impact of our campaigns.
• be able to translate complex policy aims into measurable communication objectives and provide advice and guidance to policy officials, ministers, agencies and other colleagues to help develop and deliver coordinated strategic communication strategies.
• support the team in their shared ambition to be high performing through a strong emphasis on professional development and capability building
• deputise for the Deputy Director of Communications and Director of Communications


Please refer to Job Description


We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Communicating and Influencing
  • Delivering at Pace
  • Leadership

Technical skills

We'll assess you against these technical skills during the selection process:

  • Impact - Core
  • Insight - Core
  • Ideas - Core


• Access to learning and development

• A working environment that supports a range of flexible working options to enhance your work life balance

• A working culture which encourages inclusion and diversity

• A civil service pension

• Annual Leave

• Public Holidays

• Season Ticket Advance

For more information about the recruitment process, benefits and allowances and answers to general queries, please click the below link which will direct you to our Candidate Information Page.

Link: https://justicejobs.tal.net/vx/candidate/cms/About%20the%20MOJ

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.
Successful candidates must meet the security requirements before they can be appointed. The level of security needed is security check.

See our vetting charter.
People working with government assets must complete basic personnel security standard checks.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours, Experience and Technical skills.

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

  • UK nationals
  • nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK
  • nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  • nationals from the EU, EEA or Switzerland with (or eligible for) status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals working in the Civil Service
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals who have built up the right to work in the Civil Service
  • certain family members of the relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals
Further information on nationality requirements

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.
The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

Apply and further information

Once this job has closed, the job advert will no longer be available. You may want to save a copy for your records.

Contact point for applicants

Job contact :
Name :  SSCL Recruitment Enquiries Team
Email :  Moj-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@gov.sscl.com
Telephone :  0845 241 5359
Recruitment team :
Email :  Moj-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@gov.sscl.com

Further information

Appointment to the Civil Service is governed by the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles. I you feel a department has breached the requirement of the Recruitment Principles and would like to raise this, please contact SSCL (Moj-recruitment-vetting-enquiries@gov.sscl.com) in the first instance. If the role has been advertised externally (outside of the Civil Service) and you are not satisfied with the response, you may bring your complaint to the Commission. For further information on bringing a complaint to the Civil Service Commission please visit their web pages: http://civilservicecommission.independent.gov.uk/civil-service-recruitment/complaints/

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