Head of Communications (Principal Officer) - Department of Social Protection

The Department of Social Protection is holding a competition for Head of Communications (Principal Officer) to lead its delivery of strategic communications and to support the Minister and the Department achieve a broad range of social protection objectives.

Company Department of Social Protection
Location Dublin
Apply by 3 June 2022
Position / Title Head of Communications (Principal Officer)
Contract Type The appointment is to a permanent position as Principal Officer on a probationary contract in the Civil Service
How To Apply

Please visit www.gov.ie/dspcareers for further information on the position and to download the Candidate Information Booklet and Application Form.

The Head of Communications is a key role in the Service Development Division of the Department. The Head of Communications will lead the Communications and Press Office Units in the implementation and delivery of multichannel communications to promote the Department’s objectives and inform its customers of the range of supports and services the Department provides. This will involve the use of print, radio, social media, online and other channels, including having responsibility for the Department’s website on www.gov.ie/dsp.  The Head of Communications will also have responsibility for the developing and implementing an internal communications strategy.

The Communications and Press Office Units provide support to the Minister for Social Protection and the Ministers of State with the purpose of developing and delivering strategic communication strategies and campaigns to promote the Ministers’ and the Department’s objectives. The Head of Communications will have specific responsibility for closely collaborating with business areas across the Department, working jointly with teams to advise, support and develop a shared approach in delivering high quality communication strategies aimed at informing and raising awareness of social protection services delivered by the Department.   

The Department’s Press Office function has a role in supporting the Ministers’ media objectives and ensuring communications opportunities are aligned. The Head of Communications will be responsible for delivering effective messages across the whole range of Department functions ensuring this is delivered in a coordinated way. The role will also have responsibility for working with business areas to promote awareness of key messages and priorities to the staff of the Department through the implementation of an internal communications strategy.

Key Responsibilities

The successful candidate will:

  1. Provide strategic leadership for the delivery of the Department’s communication strategic objectives both internally and externally;
  2. Deliver on the Department’s communication priorities contained in the Programme for Government, the Department’s Statement of Strategy, the Pathways to Work Strategy, the Road Map for Social Inclusion and across the broad range of other priority areas for the Department;
  3. Build a network across the Department to work collaboratively with the Department’s business areas to promote their services and deliver enhanced engagement with the Department’s services by the public;
  4. Liaise and interact with other heads of units to jointly promote key messages to Departmental staff and to enhance the awareness and understanding of the Department’s role and strategic objectiveness amongst the public;
  5. Implement and update as necessary a comprehensive external communications plan to communicate and support the Department’s work programme, encompassing media engagement, stakeholder engagement, social and digital media, media relations, web site and staff communications;
  6. Ensure a consistent, timely and proactive approach is taken in managing all press relations, with the delivery of high-quality information delivered in a proactive manner;  
  7. Contribute to the development and refinement of core messages and ensure consistent delivery across the organisation, provide advisory support on how best to communicate and achieve the Department’s strategic objectives across a range of stakeholders;
  8. Lead the development of the Department’s website on www.gov.ie and ensure that it is up to date, accurate and aligned to the Department’s strategic communications objectives;
  9. Lead the Press Office function to ensure timely, accurate and effective engagement with the press, broadcast ant other media;
  10. Manage and develop an effective structure for the Communications Unit to ensure overall delivery of the Department’s communications strategy while working collaboratively and positively with all relevant business areas across the Department;
  11. Liaise and coordinate with the Government Information Service in the Department of the Taoiseach as well as with Heads of Communications in other Departments and represent the Department at relevant fora;
  12. Support senior managers and individual business areas within the Department, to develop communication capacity to increase awareness and support the creation of key messages for the services they have responsibility for delivering;
  13. Oversee the Department’s Internal Communications and drive the implementation of the internal communications strategy.

Essential Entry Requirements

Candidates must, on the date of application, have

  • An appropriate qualification at a minimum of Level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications.
  • Significant experience in communications including providing strategic direction and developing and implementing a comprehensive external communications strategy for a large organisation. Experience should include stakeholder engagement, social media, media relations, marketing, branding and public relations and website;
  • Experience leading the development and implementation of an internal communications strategy in a large national organisation;
  • Significant experience in understanding and communicating complex content to different audiences and stakeholders, including media outlets;
  • Senior management experience in a role which involved leading, managing and developing teams and liaising with senior leaders in the organisation;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to lead and influence stakeholders on communications issues and to work collaboratively with a wide range of stakeholders to deliver common objectives including the ability to build and sustain relationships with diverse stakeholders;
  • Significant track record in media relations with a proven track record in responding quickly and effectively in relation to media queries;
  • Excellent communication, networking and influencing skills and a proven track record at working collaboratively with senior business leaders across the organisation;
  • The capability to quickly acquire an understanding of the range of complex areas for which the Department is responsible and to work in a political system;
  • A keen knowledge of the media landscape, including social media, experience in dealing with the media and managing media queries in an effective manner;
  • Sound judgement and an appreciation for public service values.
  • An ability to contribute to the overall corporate leadership of the organisation as a member of the Senior Management Team.
  • A strong understanding of the public policy context, the societal role played by the Department of Social Protection and how communications are managed in a public sector environment.


In addition, candidates should have all the abilities required of a Principal Officer. In particular, applicants must demonstrate, by reference to specific achievements in their career to date, that they possess or have the capacity to acquire those qualities, skills and knowledge required for the role of Principal Officers identified by the Public Appointments Service Principal Officer level competency framework. These include:

  • Leadership and Strategic Direction
  • Judgement and decision-making
  • Management and delivery of results
  • Building Relationships/Communication
  • Specialist knowledge, expertise, and self-development
  • Drive and commitment to public service values

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