Guilford County government is hoping to enhance its public image and that’s one reason right now that Guilford County Manager Mike Halford and Human Resource officers are sifting through candidate resumes for the brand new high-paying Guilford County public relations officer job. 

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners approved the position in the fiscal 2021-2022 budget adopted in June, and now county officials are looking for the right person to fill the job – which will pay somewhere between $91,590 and $159,690 a year.

Guilford County Manager Mike Halford said that improving communications is a priority and he noted that the county has had to do a whole lot of communicating lately, during the time of COVID-19. 

According to a note in the county’s online classified ad, the first review of applications was to be conducted in mid-September.

The county’s public relations director will, according to the official job description, “oversee Guilford County’s comprehensive public relations and communications strategy, working closely with County Administration to define, develop, and unify County branding, maximize media value for the County, and cultivate community engagement and high visibility for the County with consistent voice.”

For years, Guilford County has had something of a public relations inferiority complex when compared to the state’s two largest counties ­– Wake and Mecklenburg – since both those counties have highly polished PR capabilities, while Guilford County has never funded a full-fledged, dedicated public relations office.

Years ago, one former county manager, David McNeil, found an old podium with the county seal on it in storage.  Staff dusted it off and polished it up, and, for a while, when commissioners held press conferences or made public statements, they did so behind that podium.  But even that small step toward branding and professionalism went by the wayside. 

Former County Manager Marty Lawing, while he was manager from 2013 to 2020, wanted more attention shown to the matter and it is somewhat ironic that this is happening in the year after he left Guilford County government.

The Guilford County Clerk to the Board’s Office has handled the lion’s share of the public relations for the county through the years. At times, however, individual departments have handled their own public relations responsibilities.

For the new public relations officer, the county is looking for someone with a “Bachelor’s Degree in a related field with a combination of education and experience that would provide the necessary knowledge, skills, and competencies to perform the essential duties and tasks of this position OR Bachelor’s degree in Communications, Journalism, or a related field and considerable experience in public relations and eight years of experience overseeing a public relations function in a complex local government organization with at least three of those years in a supervisory capacity.”