Public sector movers & shakers defy the crunch

Further evidence that the public sector offers creatives a more resilient jobs environment than the private is being highlighted by its recent movers and shakers.

A newly created vacancy posted this week by the Cabinet Office shows the government is willing to fork out as much as £160,000 for a social networking guru.

The Director of Digital Engagement role requires a digital, social media professional who is already acknowledged “by their peer group to be a leader in this field.”

Given a “small budget”, the candidate will be expected to create new ways for the state to digitally engage with the public, while liaising with policy and ICT staff.

Hinting at the scale of the task, officials said the candidate will have to develop “these relationships from scratch in a pressured environment” where expectations are high.

“The post will be breaking new ground on a daily basis, across government,” adds the advert, which promises the successful applicant a starting salary of £120,000.

“The agenda is politically very high profile and full of complex issues between and within departments that you will have to exercise very sensitive judgement on how to manage and resolve.”

Despite social media evangelists accepting that the state needs help in its digital strategy, some commentators say it should not be at such an extraordinary cost to the taxpayer.

The Conservative party reportedly said hard-pressed families would not understand why the government is spending more of their money to ‘peddle’ Labour ‘propaganda.’

And the Taxpayers Alliance said the state should mirror taxpayers during this recession by belt-tightening, rather than by spending their money on a “Twittercrat.”

Similar calls in favour of the taxpayer have been made by John Prescott MP, who is vocally leading Labour’s backbenches in denouncing bankers’ bonuses.

But not too far from the movers and shakers the ex-deputy PM is attacking, his son, David Prescott, has left his 9-to-5 at a public sector PR firm to set up as a freelance consultant.

The 38-year-old is no longer the head of media at Geronimo Communications, which declined to comment, but is instead pursuing solo PR projects, including helping Prescott Snr, The Independent reported.

His career change comes as the founder of what is regarded as one of London’s most exclusive ad agencies has been appointed as the new chief of the COI, the government’s marketing arm.

Mark Lund, the chief executive of Delaney Lund Knox Warren who is also chairman of the Advertising Association, will take over the COI’s near-£400m marketing budget in June.

There’s also top brass movement in the non-profit, public interest sectors in the US: The Centre for Media and Democracy and its publication PR Watch is searching for a new executive director.

Inviting applicants to ‘take this job and love it,’ John Stauber, the incumbent and founder of the independent titles, said a “high-energy” professional skilled in elevating the group should replace him.

The CMD’s mission is promoting transparency and an informed debate by exposing corporate spin and government propaganda, through engaging the public in collaborative, accurate and fair online reporting.


27th February 2009

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