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Government Communication Plan 2019/20

Strengthening our democracy

Tackling misinformation and disinformation

The democratisation of information, and the means to exploit it, allows multiple sources to exert disproportionate influence, often in competition with the public interest. Trusted and traditional sources of information, and institutions of authority, are being called into question. In response to this, we have launched a new approach to give the public increased confidence in information they use to make their own decisions.

In April 2018, the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) was established to provide advanced digital capability to help support the reclaiming of a fact-based public debate. The RRU works to quickly identify and respond to the threat of both mis- and disinformation online. The team monitors news and information being shared and engaged with online, in order to identify emerging issues with speed, accuracy, and integrity.

Media Monitoring Unit dashboard screens

Media Monitoring Unit dashboard screens

As part of the RRU’s remit to raise the standard of online media insight, it has also been modernising the Media Monitoring Unit’s (MMU) service, successfully delivering over 6,000 digital and social monitoring alerts since launch.

In 2019, the MMU will launch a new service to provide departments and agencies with the ability to commission a wide range of additional support. The service will provide research for departments, harnessing technologies such as machine learning, social analysis, and real-time dashboard design to support continued modernisation of media operations across government.

The RRU has developed the FACT model. This is complemented by the RESIST model for countering disinformation developed by the National Security Communications Team (NSCT), which was established in March 2018. Together RESIST and FACT enhance capability in this crucial area: RESIST through providing departments with the means to create a long-term strategic response to disinformation, and FACT through empowering media and digital officers with the tools to respond to inaccuracies at speed.

The NSCT will increase public resilience to disinformation. The Don’t Feed The Beast campaign will educate and empower those who see, inadvertently share and are affected by false and misleading information.

FACT diagram


For teams with no online media monitoring capability


For teams with some online media monitoring capability


For teams with established online media monitoring capabilities


misinformation or disinformation, through continuous media monitoring

Subscribe to MMU Updates.

Sign-up to Google Alerts.

Use free tools to monitor Twitter.

Actively search for misleading social media posts and online articles. Identify longer-term narratives and trends (through in-depth analysis and social listening tools), following best practice set out in the GCS RESIST counter disinformation toolkit.


the risk of the inaccurate or misleading narrative

Use MMU Updates to:

• Judge if stories are misleading/inaccurate
• Identify key influencers measure scale of interaction

Use MMU Updates to:

• Judge if stories are misleading/inaccurate
• Identify key influencers measure scale of interaction

Use the GCS RESIST disinformation toolkit to calculate the long-term level of the risk.


HMG content to counter this risk

Share existing content.

Simple content, including:

• Departmental blog
• GOV.UK post
• Reactive social media posts

More engaging content:

• Videos
• Images / graphics
• Animations

Multi-channel content that resonates with the affected audience:

• Videos and images
• Op-eds
• Long-term campaigns
• Influencer collaboration


this content at the most relevant audiences

Organic social media targeting.

Direct response to posts/articles.

Contact publisher/ author directly.

Social media advertising activity targeted at relevant audiences. Search advertising targeted at those seeking information relating to specific topics.

Different content and messaging targeted to segmented audiences across social media and relevant digital media channels.

The development of RESIST is one component of NSCT’s work, within its broader objective to further integrate communications into national security strategy and decision-making. In 2019, NSCT will use communications to address key national security challenges to deliver real world advantage for the UK. Communications has a full role to play as part of the Fusion Doctrine, and the coordinated use of the UK’s security, economic and influence capabilities for maximum effect to protect our country and promote our interests.

Our work abroad

GCS International works in partnership with other government departments and a network of embassies to provide support to governments and institutions internationally. We deploy experts from across GCS and the wider civil service to deliver short to long term strategic communications projects that support government’s objectives overseas.

Vice President of Afghanistan

The Vice President of Afghanistan launching the first ever Government Communication Plan setting out the direction of government for the coming year.

We have worked in partnership with the Afghanistan Government to develop its communication ability and help the country engage with citizens and the international community in a more coordinated and cohesive way. We trained 50 government spokespeople as well as six media officers every month during the last 14 months and has helped to deliver a Government Communication Plan, a National Guide for Strategic Communications and a media office in the Presidential Palace.

Working with the Government of Tunisia, we launched the third phase of the Innajim campaign to support young, female entrepreneurs during the first ever ‘Week of Employment and Entrepreneurship’ in March 2019. The campaign promotes the support on offer for business ownership and start-ups nationwide, and inspires, informs and engages with some of the country’s most marginalised audiences.

The #WeAreNATO campaign highlights how unity and solidarity between Allies contributes to peace and security for citizens across the Alliance. Targeting young people and women, the campaign has been launched in the UK, Canada, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Bulgaria and is expected to roll out in the Czech Republic and Montenegro over the coming months.

Union, nations and regions

The campaigns below will be delivered by the Cabinet Office, the Office of the Secretary of State for Wales, the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland, the Northern Ireland Office, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

As we mark 20 years of devolution in Scotland and Wales, our campaigns will continue to demonstrate how being part of a strong and secure Union benefits citizens living in all four nations, creating jobs and opportunities and bringing greater security.

We will adapt the Delivering for Scotland campaign model for use in Wales and Northern Ireland, to increase awareness and understanding of what the UK Government delivers for people in devolved nations. At the same time, we will promote devolved nations as great places to work, visit and invest.

To raise awareness of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, we will work with partners to demonstrate the economic and social benefits the Games will bring to the city, region and nation. Approximately 6,500 athletes and team officials from 71 Commonwealth nations and territories will attend, with over one million tickets made available for spectators and an expected global TV audience of 1.5 billion.

We will promote regional campaigns to boost local economies and encourage investment, innovation and enterprise. The Northern Powerhouse campaign will demonstrate how regional growth is being delivered and will encourage local advocacy and action to boost skills, business expansion, connectivity and international trade in the North. The Midlands Engine campaign will target business and public audiences both within and beyond the region, highlighting sectoral strengths and showcasing innovation.

Jake Berry promoting the Northern Powerhouse

The Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, Jake Berry MP, promoting the campaign.

We will also work with local authorities in ten areas on a pilot voter ID awareness campaign for the 2019 local elections, aimed at reducing electoral fraud.

GCS Local makes campaigns relevant to local audiences across the UK’s nations and regions by using local insights to adapt our messaging. Through building stakeholder relationships, using regional statistics, finding compelling case studies, recruiting advocates, and employing other low and no-cost techniques and channels, we ensure government’s actions and words are meaningful to people, wherever they live in the country.

We work in close partnership with local and regional organisations from across the public, private and third sectors to amplify government messaging, ensuring our content reaches the right audiences, and is delivered in a language and style that resonates with them. Operating from seven regional hubs around the UK, we gather local insight and intelligence to help us both deliver messaging most effectively and to feed back to campaign planners, stakeholder managers and press officers in Whitehall to inform their approaches.

As well as promoting collaboration from across the public sector, we support its network of communications professionals around the UK by delivering training and sharing best practice. We provide training sessions, masterclasses and opportunities to hear from inspiring speakers at our regional academy events, available to full and affiliate members all over the country.

Working with LG Comms, each quarter, we also jointly chair the Public Service Joint Communications Council which meets to support cross-agency communication activity across local government, health and emergency services.

Someone using the counter terrorism policing website on a smartphone

We will deliver further ACT-branded initiatives, including safeguarding and suspicious activity campaigns to equip citizens and institutions with the tools to help keep our communities safe. We will encourage vigilance, raising awareness of reporting channels and overcoming perceived barriers to reporting.

Counter Terrorism Policing will build on the successful ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) campaign to help increase public response to potential terror threats. ACT brings together all public-facing counter-terror communications, creating an overarching call to action to empower and encourage communities to be vigilant and to act on their concerns.

The Metropolitan Police Service’s communications will focus on the issues that matter most to Londoners, especially violent crime in all its forms, and knife crime in particular.

Campaigns will focus especially on knife crime, domestic abuse, and crime prevention, including moped theft, keyless car crime and burglary.