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Better collaboration between and within departments is crucial to our success, from delivering audience-led campaigns and ensuring a coherent and cohesive narrative to the public, to sharing insights and learnings across government.

We have made great strides in tackling organisational silos, particularly in the planning and delivering of communication to focus on audiences and policy outcomes. Notable successes include cross-government campaigns, such as ‘Help for Households’, ‘Skills for Life’ and ‘Stop! Think Fraud’, which bring together policies and services from multiple departments, making it easier for audiences to understand and access the support they need. However, we recognise that there are further opportunities for join-up and we remain focused on ensuring our communications are clear, consistent and audience-led. 

The central GCS team, based in the Cabinet Office, is now built around the things that we alone can do, and that benefit our members and the public the most. This means improved training, inclusivity and networking opportunities for our members and greater capability to deliver on the government’s priorities. 

Our members-only online portal, GCS Connect, makes it easier for communicators across government to build networks and access GCS products and services. But we want it to do a lot more. In the coming months we will start to include information on jobs, locations, and individual communications disciplines. And it will be the host for both GCS Advance training and our in-house AI virtual assistant. We also want it to be our network for innovation – allowing people to share what has worked and what hasn’t, to virtually develop and share ideas and to ask for help.

Heads and Deputy Heads of Discipline have been selected from across the GCS community to represent and convene each of the seven core communications disciplines, helping to raise standards, share best practice and promote continuous improvement, alongside the central GCS team:

DisciplineHead of DisciplineDeputy Head of Discipline 
MediaAndrew Darby, Department for EducationFiona Richards, Department for Transport
External AffairsKate Whitty-Johnson, Department for EducationRecruitment ongoing
MarketingChloe Saklow, Department for EducationJo Parry, Office for National Statistics
Strategic CommunicationsSarah Clark, Department for Culture, Media and SportGemma Taylor, HM Treasury
Internal CommunicationsRussell Grossman, Office of Rail and RoadSara Vogt, Ministry of Justice
Digital Ed Bearryman, GCSZara Farrar, No10
Data and InsightPamela Bremner, Home Office Recruitment ongoing

In the year ahead, we will build on this progress by driving even stronger links between the different professions within departments. The improvements we are making in evaluation across the government communication profession mean our work is better understood and valued by colleagues and leaders across the Civil Service. And thanks to our rich audience insights, communication teams are uniquely placed to support ministers to make more informed decisions both on policy and communications.

As well as fostering internal collaboration, we will continue to partner with external organisations and individuals who can help extend the reach of our communications beyond owned and traditional media channels. This includes influencers, who offer a powerful way to authentically reach and engage our target audiences by creating personalised and engaging content for our campaigns. Our new guidance encourages and supports communication teams to work with influencers effectively and transparently.

Communicating in a crisis 
One area where we are already seeing the value of a more integrated approach across communications and policy is in our response to crises. Last year, GCS published ‘Prepare-Respond-Recover’ – a new operating model for government crisis communications. We are now building a surge team of over 100 trained volunteers from across GCS and further embedding communication into crisis management alongside those responsible for policy and operational planning. After all, communication is one of most important things the government does in a crisis – reassuring and providing information to the public.