NOTE: This is a fictional piece of writing, although it may appear to have items that appears to be from real life. This is part of an assignment where we had to write about our dream job and how the school program I’m in right now would help me in that dream job.
Today I had a day that by most accounts would make people’s heads spin, and yet to me it just seems like another day at the office! Being the spokesperson for the Prime Minister of Canada is a job that not many people could handle – yet it’s something I’ve been striving towards for many years.
The truth is, there is no typical day. There are always qualifiers; is the House in session? Is in Question Period day? Is there a special or significant vote? Does the Prime Minister have to rush off to an event this evening? Is there official party business to attend to? But as many who have held this position before me know, this club is not for the faint of heart. Individuals generally last between 12 to 24 months in this position, simply because of the crazy hours and lifestyle. I think my work as a flight attendant prepared me for this, because I never had the same shift and was always on the go. Looking back, that’s one of the things I really liked about the position – the constant variety and interaction with different people. Although that is also one of the toughest things to do; interact with different people!
Today’s focus was on the speech the Prime Minister gave last night. It was an incredible speech, and I’m not just saying that because I helped write it! I really enjoy working with the PM as he’s such an incredible writer; but his having been a teacher means he’s also a hard marker! Our minds seem to mesh on things he wants to say and the way he wants to say it. As passionate as he is, the speech also had the potential to ignite the online community and that happened almost immediately. Thankfully I had worked with the communications team in advance to prepare responses. My media relations class really came in handy in going through every potential angle our opponents could attack us from, and working to build responses that keep us on message while showcasing the differences between our party and the others.
The writing classes I took in my public relations program helps me every day, as I craft messages from simple tweets to complex policy announcements. When they told us that we would have to write for a grade five comprehension level, I laughed. I realize that it is now more likely to be a grade THREE comprehension level! I also struggle to remember that this is something I deal with day in and day out; I understand the jargon and the lingo and even though it is completely foreign to me, there are plenty of people out there who don’t know what ‘proroguing Parliament’ means or even what Question Period is. Let me give you a hint, it’s not a time where MPs ask questions and get actual answers!
This afternoon was a good one in that we actually had scheduled a debriefing about the speech, and we managed to keep that appointment. The senior staff sat down with the PM to go over the good, the bad, and the ugly. We often debrief major announcements and speeches so that we can see where he’s making traction, where he can improve, and where we need to cut our losses. He had done well at the speech, there was only a couple points where he seemed to stumble on his words. It’s amazing to see the transformation from his speaking style before he was a Member of Parliament to now – and I know it’s because of practice on his part, and debriefings on the part of the staff.
I have learned to deal with many different personalities and management styles while in this position, but the biggest thing I’ve brought to this job is the fact that even though I’m dealing, quite literally, with matters of state, life goes on. It’s all about staying calm, taking a deep breathe, getting through the moment, and realizing that there will always be another issue. Tomorrow is another day, and trust me – there will always be another crisis. All I can do is my best, and I know that I have the skills I need.
I’ll leave you with a clip from one of my favourite shows: The West Wing. CJ Cregg is the White House Press Secretary and she just has to most insane job. This is what I would love to do. Canada is not quite like that. I hope you enjoy the clip!