When the British government put out the call for a new speechwriter to manage the troubled health dossier, they offered a salary ranging from about Â£38,000 to Â£56,543. That in turn provoked gasps of outrage throughout the British media and blogosphere (any government expenditure on communications usually does if the numbers start to resemble what the private sector wouldn’t blink before paying).
It’s good money, but it isn’t crazy good, as Joel from Hyde Park Associates points out:
Anyone who has ever worked as a speechwriter knows that you are on call, at the whim of the person you are writing for. The 18 weekly hours will not be at the convenience of the speechwriter, nor is it likely the work will be completed in just 18 hours. Finally, if the secretaryâ€™s communications staff currently outsources her speeches to a PR firm, the NHS may be paying Â£5,000 to Â£7,500 per speech, so it wouldnâ€™t take long for a fulltime speechwriter to offer a handsome return on investment.
I really donâ€™t think this salary is out of line, though I may not understand UK government pay scales. And to paraphrase an old maxim on how the government does business, I donâ€™t think anyone should have to give a speech that was written by the lowest bidder.
I remember my first political speechwriting job: I was hired for 40 hours a week and worked 60; my five days a week looked a lot more like seven.
That said, I’d actually be interested in seeing what the speech written by the lowest bidder would look like. Anyone want to take a crack at it in comments?