Strategic communication

The strategic communications areas for development include for example:

  • horizon-scanning
  • understanding the context in which your team operates
  • strategy and message development
  • gathering insight, setting SMART objectives and evaluation
  • in some departments, teams will also need capability in programme and account management.

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)

GCS OASIS Campaign Guide

The OASIS Campaigns Guide outlines the five steps you need to create a campaign (Objectives, Audience/Insight, Strategy/Ideas, Implementation, Scoring/Evaluation). It should be used by all government communications professionals regardless of discipline, department or grade.

Guide to campaign planning – OASIS

Insight guidance

The GCS Insight guidance is essential to government communications. By finding out more about audiences’ attitudes, habits and preferences, insight can help ensure government communications are as relevant, meaningful and effective as possible.

Insight guidance

Evaluation guidance

The GCS Evaluation Framework and guidance supports a more consistent approach to evaluation across GCS where outcomes are aligned to objectives. The framework is a quick, easy reference tool to ensure we measure what matters.

Evaluation guidance: monitoring and evaluating government communication activity

Read (advanced)

Book: ‘The Art of Statistics: Learning from Data’

Getting a basic grasp of statistical literacy is more important than ever, especially for data-driven marketeers. The author, David Spiegelhalter, guides the reader through the essential principles we need in order to derive knowledge from data.

Book: ‘Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The difference and why it matters’

In this book, Richard P. Rumelt explains the logic of good strategy and the sources of power that talented strategists have tapped as well as the pitfalls to avoid.

Book: ‘Organisational Listening: The missing essential in public communications’

Professor Jim MacNamara argues that improved organisational listening is key to citizen, customer, and stakeholder engagement.

Book: ‘Strategic public relations leadership’

Anne Gregory and Paul Willis provide a framework for communications professionals to be able to clearly articulate and demonstrate their own contribution to organisational effectiveness.

Book: ‘Communication Excellence: How to Develop, Manage and Lead Exceptional Communications’

Based upon Ralph Trench, Dejan Vercic, Ansgar Zerfass, Angeles Moreno, and Piet Verhoeven’s analysis and the insights it generates, the research team tackle a range of issues including strategic communication, the impact of reputation, crisis, mediatisation, organisational culture, as well as the development of professionalisation.

Book: ‘On Grand Strategy’

John Lewis Gaddis offers a series of case studies from history about the useful impact of strategy – a “plan informed by the past, linked to the present, for achieving some future goal”. Gaddis sets out some of the key concepts underpinning strategy and how they have been applied at various moments of crucial decision-making.

Book: ‘The Art of Statistics’

David Spiegelhalter’s important book helps us to understand how statistics are created, how to properly interpret them and how they can be presented in a way that people will understand.

Book: ‘Narrative Economics: How Stories Go Viral and Drive Major Economic Events’

Robert J. Shiller’s book examines the fashions ideas and rumours that have driven economic behaviour in America over the past hundred years. Schiller identifies nine perennial economic narratives which are essentially public shortcuts for explaining what is happening in the national economy.

Watch or listen (introductory)

Webinar: Digital landscape for PR

From the changing face of the media and how it uses the digital platforms to communicate through to the advent of social media platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook – there is a new backdrop to the practice of communications. This webinar examines the landscape against which we must operate.

Watch PRCA recorded webinar: Digital landscape for PR (1 hour 24 minutes)

Video: ‘Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how you make a toast’

Making toast doesn’t sound very complicated – until someone asks you to draw the process, step by step. Tom Wujec loves asking people and teams to draw how they make toast because the process reveals unexpected truths about how we can solve our biggest, most complicated problems at work.

Watch the TED Talk: ‘Got a wicked problem? First, tell me how you make a toast’

Webinar: Measuring and evaluating PR

This webinar provides an overview of the latest thinking concerning evaluation and how to apply it to your campaigns.

Watch PRCA recorded webinar: Measuring and evaluating PR’ (1 hour 43 minutes)

Watch or listen (advanced)

Video: Crisis Management Strategies

‘Successfully Managing Crises’ author and crisis management expert Ian Mitroff talks about crisis management for today’s business world.

Watch YouTube: Crisis Management Strategies (5 minutes YouTube)

Webinar: Getting maximum impact from a disappearing PR & Communications Budget

The online seminar will take you through the ways to develop public relations on a shoestring but still make an impact and see the opportunities that lie in front of you.

Watch PRCA recorded webinar: Getting maximum impact from a disappearing PR & communications budget (1hour 31 minutes)

Video: Political Campaigning in the digital age

Lucian Despoiu is an influential person in the political marketing world and discusses how voters can and should influence political parties in the new digital era.

Watch the TED Talk: ‘Political campaigning in the digital age’

Do (introductory)

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

Academy: Introduction to Strategic Communications


This course will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to design and implement strategic communication campaigns. It is based on the Government’s model for Strategic Communication called OASIS (Objectives, Audiences, Strategy, Implementation and Scoring) and you will have the opportunity to explore its five stages in depth.

Learning outcomes:

  • understand and follow a strategic planning cycle
  • understand and use the OASIS framework confidently
  • define the aim, objectives and tactics of a strategic plan
  • write SMART objectives (S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound)
  • identify research needs and ways to source information
  • categorise audiences and design comms relevant to them
  • identify influencers and partners
  • recognise and scope risks
  • know what can be evaluated and how to evaluate.

This course is worth 5 CIPR and CPD points.

Watch the recorded webinar: Introduction to strategic communication (GCS members only)
Watch our webinars by asking the development adviser in your department for the GCS access code or contact us for their details.

Academy: Communicating Locally


The course will introduce you to the essentials of local campaign planning including building successful local stakeholder networks; listening to the voices in your area; working with key partners (including devolved and national governments); identifying effective local channels; tailoring your campaign messaging for local audiences, and making the most of traditional and digital low and no-cost platforms.

Learning outcomes:

  • how to build successful local stakeholder networks
  • understanding the various voices in your area
  • how to work with key partners (including devolved and national governments)
  • how to identifying effective local channels
  • how to tailor your campaign messaging for local audiences
  • how to make most of traditional and digital low and no-cost platforms.

This course is worth 5 CIPR and CPD points.

Watch the recorded webinar: Communicating locally (GCS members only)
Watch our webinars by asking the development adviser in your department for the GCS access code or contact us for their details.

Academy webinar: Horizon Scanning


Horizon Scanning enables communicators to be better prepared and to take the opportunity to alter plans in light of potential risks and emerging issues.

Learning outcomes:

  • in this webinar, you will hear what Horizon Scanning is and learn how to implement it with a strong process of intelligence gathering, filtering and reporting
  • you will also learn some of the academic models that back up the concept and put it into practice in interactive exercises

Academy webinar: COM-B: Using Behavioural Science to Communicate Strategically

The Capability, Opportunity, Motivation, Behaviour (COM-B) model is one theory of behaviour.

This course is part our communication essentials, find out details to access the recorded webinar or the next date for live webinar.

Do (advanced)

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

Academy: A Practical Approach to Planning, Insight and Evaluation


This course will demonstrate the value and importance of good audience insight as you work through every stage of the OASIS model. This will give you the knowledge, tools and tips that you need to identify, gather and analyse data and apply insightful thinking that will improve your planning and evaluation skills.

Learning outcomes:

  • develop in-depth knowledge of how to evaluate previous communication campaigns
  • learn how to understand how an audience behaves, why and how can you get them to change their minds
  • how to make use of the OASIS campaign model and the process of evaluation

This course is worth 10 CIPR and CPD points.

Academy: Advanced strategic thinking, leadership and communication


This live on-line course is designed for experienced GCS professionals responsible for leading others in the delivery of strategic communication programmes. It focusses on the mindset required in complex environments introducing various tools, checklists and rules of thumb which allow communicators to better understand their context while adapting to fast moving conditions.

The course content further supports the new GCS Leadership Framework. It highlights that many of the challenges confronting senior communicators in strategic planning and delivery require the application of a wide repertoire of leadership competencies alongside technical communication knowledge.

Learning outcomes:

  • Understanding the implications of complexity for strategic communication programmes
  • Appreciating the importance of strategic modes of thinking which go beyond fixed planning templates like OASIS
  • Being clear about your strategic contribution to the organisation
  • How to make sense of the world for yourself and others
  • Applying robust forms of contextual analysis
  • Developing new ways of understanding the stakeholder environment
  • Identifying how to unpack the essence of the communication challenge
  • Creating engaging methods of strategy development
  • Understanding the key requirements of large scale projects
  • Applying a reflective orientation to planning and your wider leadership practice

This course is worth 10 CIPR and CPD points.


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