There are launches and there are launches. The launch of the UK Government's Communications Plan is worth a look. The Government Communications Service has set some high standards in recent years and how they go about their business should be of interest to everyone involved in the field.
by Alex Aiken
This is our communications plan for the year ahead. It sets out the main campaigns that are designed to help deliver the priorities of the Government and the ways by which we are going to improve our professional practice.
The Government’s One Nation narrative provides a clear focus for our work, providing the framework for Government policies and programmes to help working people, spread opportunity, bring our country together and secure Britain’s place in the world. There will be major campaigns to improve public health, get young people into apprenticeships, encourage the right to buy, recruit to our armed forces and explain pension provision. In total this plan contains 77 communication campaigns, from encouraging blood donation to reducing tax avoidance.
Last week, the Prime Minister said that effective communication is central to providing the very best public service. He highlighted the need to make sure that “all our communications with the public should be human, clear, simple, helpful and professional. This means explaining complexity in everyday terms and translating jargon into simple English”. That’s a clear call to action for all public servants especially those working in public relations, marketing and internal communication.
The 2015/16 plan will provide a more unified communications profession and better value for taxpayers’ money. Already, during the last Parliament, we reduced spending by half a billion pounds a year and helped increase the effectiveness and capability of government communicators. We want to be able to deploy content across the full range of marketing channels in the pursuit of our public service goals but we should always choose the most effective means of reaching the audience, rather than relying on a blanket approach.
This new plan shows how we will go even further and faster by providing even more streamlined and effective campaigns and stronger partnerships. Departments and agencies are working more closely together and we increasingly use data and deploy behavioural science to help Ministers achieve their goals.
We are proud of our world-leading reputation, but in an ever-evolving profession we cannot afford to stand still.
This is why our evaluation work must now also be combined with robust audience insight. Our new, dedicated audience insight function will help commission audience research for new government campaigns, and a cross-government insight network will also be created to enable government insight professionals to share knowledge and ideas for communicating with specific audiences.
The plan also reflects on the last year and how we communicated on a wide range of global and national issues such as tackling Ebola and helping people save money on their energy bills. It highlights the success of long-running campaigns such as the GREAT Britain Campaign, and importantly looks at the priorities of the new government.
So our plan is clear – to deploy world-class campaigns that help to save, improve and enrich people’s lives through the provision of high quality public information. I urge all government communicators to read the plan and I look forward to delivering it with you.
Alex Aiken is executive director for UK Government Communications.