Information Officer, Leisure Services

As an information officer based in a local authority's leisure services department, it would be your job to make sure that people - the press, the media, the public and other council staff - know about the department's work and have a positive response to it.  In some councils the job is about providing marketing materials; in some it focuses on press and public relations; in others it involves all these roles.  So your job could involve any or all of:

  • researching and writing marketing materials;
  • providing information via phone, fax, and the Internet;
    • answering queries from the media, the public and Council colleagues or elected members;
  • making sure that stories are featured in newspapers, magazines, TV and radio;
  • building up a good rapport with journalists so you can contact the right person at the right time to have the best result.

As we become a more and more media-orientated society, so the emphasis on press coverage and public information grows - and information, marketing and publicity departments with it.  In some councils, information officers within leisure services departments may be known as 'marketing officers', 'press and public relations officers', or any combination of those (such as 'press officer' or public relations officer').

Work Environment
Information officers are based in an office environment - but where their work involves a public relations or press emphasis, they may also go out and meet journalists, as well as spending time at the events they are publicising.  In local government, the majority of information officers work the usual 37-hour week but some out-of-hours work is possible when tight deadlines need to be met or there is an evening or weekend function they need to attend.

Daily Activities
As an information officer you'd work as part of a team with the aim of:

  • conveying information about the department's services and/or keeping the leisure services department in the public's mind - that could be nationally, locally, or both, making sure that the public and the media have the right information;

your work could be proactive:

  • gathering information about events or attractions and the Leisure Services department's work;
  • writing press releases and/or marketing materials - which may include multimedia sources of information;
  • writing in-house newsletters;
  • gaining approval for them to be released;
  • sending them to journalists and others on your mailing list;
  • ringing journalists to see whether a story is of interest to them;
  • sending out follow-up information;
  • arranging photo and interview opportunities, including launch events;
  • reading through newspapers and magazines and collecting press cuttings - to show where your stories have been featured;

or reactive:

  • responding to requests for information from journalists, the public and colleagues;
  • researching facts and figures when asked - from colleagues and other departments in the council, for instance.

You may also be involved in researching new contacts, ringing newspapers and magazines, radio and TV stations to find the most appropriate person to talk to and building a rapport with them.  You're likely to have to work within deadlines, both within your department - when an event is about to happen, for instance - and with journalists when their publication or programme is about to be printed or broadcast.  When an event is being arranged, you may be responsible for finding and booking a suitable venue, tracking down celebrities and arranging refreshments.  And when it happens, you may be called upon to look after the press, photographers or VIPs.

Skills & Interests
Information officers need:

  • accuracy - it's important that information is correct;
  • good communication skills - both written and spoken.  You'd need to be able to capture the essence of a story and convey facts clearly.  When dealing with the media you'd need to catch a journalist's attention quickly and make them want to use your feature;
  • to be able to juggle several tasks at once;
  • to be good under pressure - and willing to meet deadlines;
  • an outgoing personality;
    • perseverance - to make sure your message is conveyed.

Entry Requirements
There is no one route into this job.  GNVQs/GSVQs in media studies may be useful, as may BTEC/SQA qualifications - a Diploma or Certificate in Business & Finance with a Marketing option, for example.  There are a number of university degree courses that include PR, marketing or media studies as a speciality.  There are also postgraduate diplomas and Masters degrees in Public Relations and Marketing.  Once appointed, you can work towards the professional qualifications of the Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation or the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
The number of information officers varies dramatically according to the size of the local authority, as does the job title.  It may be possible to gain promotion within the department, to manager and ultimately director.  It is also possible to move to other authorities for promotion.  There are information, press and PR jobs in commercial settings, outside local government.  Marketing and advertising roles may also be of interest.

Further Information & Services
Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport & Physical Activity
Chartered Institute of Marketing
Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation
Fitness Industry Association
Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management
Lifetime Health & Fitness
Recreation Management magazine
Sports Wales

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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