Digital communication

We recognise that ‘digital’ is an inherent and important strand of all communication specialisms.

You can develop your digital skills, including for example:

  • a better understanding of data and how it can be used to reach and communicate with our audiences
  • the use of social media analysis software to gain insights
  • create more relevant and impactful content
  • improve reactive media handling online
  • understand digital marketing and the targeting opportunities it offers
  • improve the evaluation of online communications activity

Use this information to discuss your professional development plan (PDP) with your line manager. Read about the different levels in our learning strategy.

On this page:

Read (introductory)

Digital accessibility

As a communications professional, you need to know that accessibility is a legal requirement, but also that it is important to make things accessible and help improve the experience for everyone. 

You should:

Create accessible social media campaigns

To help you make social media accessible, use the following guides:

Assistive technology and accessibility resources

Tools to help making content accessible:

Our blog posts:

Government Digital Service (GDS) blog posts:

GDS style guide

The Government Digital Service (GDS) style guide covers style points for content and guidance on specific points of style, such as abbreviations, numbers and acronyms.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR compliance requires that individuals be able to opt out of being subject to automatic decision making, such as the use of cookies on websites, personalised marketing and how individuals information is being processed. It is important you learn about GDPR:

Design102 blog

The official blog of Design102, a creative design studio for government departments, agencies and public bodies: Design102 blog.

Website: Think with Google

This website is regularly updated with digital marketing and audience insights: Think with Google.

Book: ‘Dataclysm – what our online lives tell us about our offline selves’

Drawing on data from OKCupid, Google, Facebook and more, Christian Rudder reveals our hopes, fears, dreams and desires.

Read (advanced)

Book: ‘Connected: The surprising power of our social networks and how they shape our lives’

Nicholas Christiakis and James H. Fowler present compelling evidence for our profound influence on one another as they explain how social networks form and how they operate.

Book: ‘Information is beautiful’

David McCandless presents a visual journey through the most revealing trends, offering inspiration on how to visualise your data.

Publication: ‘Fake news – a roadmap’

By King’s Centre for Strategic Communications and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence. Fifteen MA students studying strategic communications have collaborated with NATO to publish the first definitive analysis of the growing phenomenon of ‘fake news’ in this fascinating book.

Fake news – a roadmap

Watch or listen (introductory)

GCS Accelerate Essentials Learning podcasts

Listen to the Government Communication Service (GCS) Accelerate Essentials Learning podcasts. These podcasts are designed to accompany the face-to-face courses, as well as to be useful introductions to various areas of digital communications for those who haven’t attended the courses.

Media and marketing podcasts:

Digital accessibility

Recorded webinar: Digital accessibility: best practice essentials

Learn about making your content more accessible such as using plain English, adding alt text and video captions and checking colour contrast. 

Recorded webinar: Digital accessibility for government communicators – with the Government Digital Service (GDS)

Learn all about the digital accessibility requirements, and how to make your digital communications accessible. This is part of digital transformation programme Accelerate.

YouTube playlist: Global Accessibility Awareness Day video series (with GDS)

This video series will help you to keep up to speed with the latest on Digital Accessibility Regulations, learn about the creation of accessibility statements and how to conduct accessibility checks, and more.

  • An introduction to digital accessibility regulations Government Digital Service (34 minutes)
  • How to avoid common accessibility statement fails Government Digital Service (42 minutes)
  • How to carry out basic accessibility checks Government Digital Service (57 minutes)
  • Building digital services that work for everyone Government Digital Service (30 minutes)
  • Making accessibility accessible: the secret to engaging your workforce
    Government Digital Service (16 minutes)
  • What would Marie Kondo do? How to clear your website of inaccessible PDFs (17 minutes)

Government Digital Service podcasts

GDS is leading the digital transformation of government.

Video: The power of story

Greg Power is President of the Canadian operations of world-leading public relations agency Weber Shandwick. Throughout his communications career, his interest has been in the challenge of building the bridge between a message and an audience.

Watch the TED talk: The power of story

Video: How to get your ideas to spread

Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones.

Watch the TED talk: How to get your ideas to spread

Podcast: The truth about fake news

The BBC’s media editor Amol Rajan asks James Ball, Special Correspondent at BuzzFeed News, and Mark Frankel, Social Media Editor at BBC News, about the different meanings of ‘fake news’ and how journalists should respond to it.

Listen to the BBC podcast: The truth about fake news

Watch and listen (advanced)

BBC World Service Podcast: ‘The past and future of fake news’

The past and future of fake news – what can be done about social media misinformation and what impact does it have around the world? Mike Wendling asks a panel of experts from Buzzfeed, the Poynter Institute, and First Draft News.

Listen: The past and future of fake news

‘The Secret to Successful Crisis Management in the 21st Century’

Melissa Agnes discusses the impacts that the digital landscape have on crisis management and the key to successful crisis management.

Watch TED talk: The Secret to Successful Crisis Management in the 21st Century

Do (introductory)

The Academy courses are scheduled throughout the year, check our listing to book upcoming courses, webinars and events.

Our digital skills transformation programme: Accelerate

January 2020 update:

GCS Accelerate was an industry-leading digital skills transformation programme at the forefront of making digital integral to the work of government communicators.

Digital learning is now integrated in the GCS academy curriculum.

The programme aimed to empower, equip and engage us as government communicators in driving digital transformation within our profession. As a result, the training sessions are free to GCS members.

Digital communications (in partnership with GCSI)

The Academy courses are scheduled throughout the year, check our listing to book upcoming courses, webinars and events.


Digital Communications is a 6-module online course designed and delivered by GCSI (Government Communication Service International). The course teaches learners about the important role digital communications play within government and how they form a crucial part of a modern communications strategy.

What’s expected of you?

You must be able to commit 2 hours per module for 6 modules across 6 weeks.

What’s expected of your line manager?

You must speak with your line manager to approve your place on the course and ensure they understand the commitment that comes with completing the course.

What will you learn?

This course:

  • gives insight into how to use digital communications strategically to target audiences, tailor content and make messages go further;
  • demonstrates how digital communications give governments access to new sources of data to develop great insights, and the ability to innovate to drive real behaviour change;
  • is highly interactive with participants learning from UK Government experts who share their experiences via case studies.

How will you learn?

The course uses digital learning technology including a range of video case studies and interactive activities. You will be learning from experts from across the UK Government.

OmniGOV Academy

The OmniGOV Academy is a bespoke training portal covering all core media disciplines needed to work effectively and collaboratively with the Government’s media buyer, OmniGOV (Manning Gottlieb OMD).

Find out about the OmniGov Academy

GOV.UK training

To be able to publish content on GOV.UK, you have to first attend a 2 day-long course on ‘Writing for GOV.UK‘ and ‘Using Whitehall publisher’.

Book your training through your department’s head of digital publishing or read the cross-government content community training information.

Course: Introduction to content design

Run by the Government Digital Service (GDS), discover the fundamentals of content design. Learn about user-centred content that’s easy for everyone to understand and access.

Join the course for free on FutureLearn

Course: Google analytics for beginners training

Free online training course in how to use Google Analytics to understand how people are interacting with your websites.

Google Analytics for beginners

Do (advanced)

The Academy courses are scheduled throughout the year, check our listing to book upcoming courses, webinars and events.

Course: Online Crisis Response and Media Relations

Details: 1 day face to face for grades assistant information officer (AIO) to grade 6 (G6).

Learning objectives:

  • This course will include real life examples from the public private sector as well as some useful models and checklists.
  • In three phases spread through the day participants will be asked to work in teams to handle an unfolding fictional crisis scenario using a private online crisis simulation platform, Crisis90.
  • Participants will be guided through three stages where they will be able to compare their strategic responses, key messages and tactical approaches.


Share what you learn with your colleagues. If you are interested in becoming a trainer on a course, contact us at  

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