My Media Day: David Grindlay, team leader (news and new media), Falkirk Council

DAVID Grindlay is team leader for news and new media at Falkirk Council. He leads on PR and social media activity for the local authority and has been with it for more than ten years.

He submitted this on Tuesday, September 24.

What exactly is it that you do?

I am part of a fabulous in-house communications team helping the Council communicate with its 150,000-plus residents, using every technique we can.

Specifically, I lead on public relations, media relations and social media in the Council but you end up contributing to other areas as well.

It can involve writing a short media reply on why someone’s bin was not lifted or pulling together a large and involved campaign to help recruit foster carers.

I love the fact that my organisation is so diverse and delivers a very important service to our communities (over 700 at the last count).

What did your working day today or yesterday comprise?

Local government is great in that you are really never sure what you come into each day – some major crisis affecting a community or something a tad more mundane; it’s all good.

First up was a quick check of the twitter feed for the Council and a look at local and national news to see if there are any implications for us.

Next was a meeting with some of the directors and leading politicians to look at forthcoming opportunities to potentially communicate some important committee decisions – it reminds us that we are an accountable organisation and it’s important to keep the public informed and engaged on how their money is being spent delivering services.

Currently, we have a graduate trainee as part of the team and I have been working with her to bring on her wider communications skills. She is only here for nine months but I passionately believe in encouraging and mentoring young people in my industry, wherever possible. Our previous graduate trainee has just landed a communications job at the Scottish Government, so I guess that some of what we are doing is working.

We are also just out of a twitter awareness session for managers explaining how twitter could work to their advantage. It was great to see how their awareness and views transformed in the matter of an hour-and-a-half, on how useful it could be in helping to communicate with our communities.

How different or similar is your average working day to when you started?

Massively different – I started at the University of Strathclyde, in their press office. At that point, we were sending out press releases by mail or by courier and actual printed images for use in newspapers.

Now we rely hugely on technology to help us to engage with our very astute audiences who (rightly) demand a far higher level of media sophistication than previously.

The range of work that I now carry out is far more involved and, consequently, rewarding; but I do miss interacting with journalists as much as I used to.

How do you see your job evolving?

It is constantly evolving, as the techniques and tools that we use as communicators change all the time. Personally, I find it interesting and, being a bit of a geek, I really enjoy keeping on top of industry trends and what’s happening with social media.

How your job evolves I think is mainly in your own hands and I take a lot of responsibility for self–learning about my profession. With a mix of traditional training and the masses of online material available for free, you can make the most of the opportunities available.

I believe that the role of communicators is becoming increasingly important across all organisations, so being ahead of your game is a must.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

Councils are about people and their communities so if I am part of a campaign or activity that demonstrably improves their lives or the local environment, I feel immensely proud.

Giving an excellent service to my clients also means a lot and hearing back that they were happy with our efforts always makes me pleased.

Of course, if we pick up a national award for our work, that always gives a nice feeling of satisfaction!