Published: 31 October 2014

The new comms insider – The ever expanding job description

After some years mooching around the communications departments of a number of organisations I’ve decided to take the plunge and share some observations with my esteemed CharityComms peers under the anonymity of the comms insider! So take five minutes and see if any of this sounds familiar…

How often have you found yourself tasked with a piece of work that quite clearly sits in another part of the organisation?

If it’s something no one is quite sure what to do with, or no one else wants to do, it will end up at comms’ door. It usually comes with the seemingly thrilling opportunity to ‘make it what you will’.  How exciting! We’ve been gifted a ‘clean slate’ – the cleanliness of the slate turning out to be something of a double edged sword as it is married, almost inextricably, to the vagueness of job description and role expectation.

These additional jobs often come down to ‘PR opportunities’. Imagine the scene: Under duress from a CEO who has developed a desire to ‘be in the media’ having recently returned from a ‘Getting yourself on Radio 4 now!’ seminar, you find yourself doing the bidding of a marketing director who has developed a well-intentioned but vague plan to ‘increase profile’. Sadly, they haven’t considered how it will work strategically or how it will operate within the current function of the team. These activities might range from managing a London Marathon team, organising a corporate event or even the office Christmas party.

The clever marketing director will pander to your ego and desire for progression by telling you, “you’re so GOOD at it.” And of course, it’ll be great for your internal profile – although as we know, credit is not always forthcoming. Of course, we have the opportunity to respond with a tentative “I’m just not sure how this fits into my remit…” or an even braver, “this is really much more of a fundraising thing isn’t it?” With the decision already made by the powers that be you’re Googling ‘cheap, breathable running vests’ in colours from the brand palette before you know it.

Have you ever successfully extricated yourself from a spot like this? How did you do it? What’s the most unrelated to comms activity you’ve been asked to manage – and how did it work out? Do you have an amazing success story of how what seemed like an extraordinary job description stretch actually turned out really well for you, your organisation – or both? I’d love to hear your ever expanding job description tales.


Anonymous, Mystery UK charity

The comms insider is an anonymous comms professional working at a UK charity. S/he wishes to remain incognito so as to be able to write frankly about his/her experiences and opinions.