Media, Campaigns and Digital case studies

Here, you can find case studies from GCS colleagues working in different media, campaigns and digital roles across government.

Cassie Hearn, Press Officer for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office 

Cassie HearnI joined the Government Legal Department in January 2015 following a Government Communications Service (GCS) recruitment campaign which involved online verbal and numerical tests and an assessment centre day. 30 people were recruited at the same time to Communications roles across the civil service, giving me the opportunity to choose from a variety of posts in a number of government departments.

The Government Legal Department (GLD) appealed to me because of its breadth of presence across government. GLD offered me a brilliant grounding in a range of Comms disciplines and I really enjoyed being able to take ownership of the projects I delivered.

After 18 months, I decided to go through the process again and this time chose to work at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office as a Press Officer. Working in the Media Office in the Europe team is fast-paced and everyday is different, we never know what’s going to happen in the news and have to be able to respond to anything.

Being part of the GCS is great as it provides brilliant learning and development opportunities. They run a wide range of courses, in a variety of Comms disciplines. I have learnt an enormous amount in the past couple of years not only from some excellent courses, but also from watching my colleagues and the way they problem solve.

The professional network of communicators within the GCS has also allowed me to form relationships with colleagues across government. The ability to share expertise and knowledge has been very beneficial. I’ve been able to develop skills in digital capability and content design thanks to the expertise of both online and offline communities.

Sandie McKenzie, Campaigns Officer, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

sandie-mckenzieBefore joining the Civil Service, I worked in communications and public relations agencies with big-name brands. But I wanted the opportunity to work on issues and policies I feel passionately about and so a communications role in government seemed to be a perfect fit.

I came across GCS online and was immediately impressed by the huge variety of communications experiences it offers at the full range of government departments. If you seek new challenges, enjoy working with new people, and aspire to gain new skills, GCS is a great place to be.

During the recruitment process, I was matched to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and I now work in the communication campaigns team. In the last 12 months I have worked on the Magna Carta World Tour, the Supporting Syria Conference hosted by the Prime Minister in London, the overseas voter registration campaign with the Electoral Commission, and the Global Britain campaign. I have also undertaken a short-term attachment to the UK’s Mission to the United Nations in New York to better understand the FCO’s overseas network. It’s been a fantastic year so far and I’m looking forward to the future!

Christopher Khadem, Press Officer, HM Revenue and Customs

What doChrisR you do?

I work in the press office in the strategy, planning and digital media team, which means I run some of the department’s social media feeds and am involved in planning and coordinating the digital side of various campaigns with press office involvement.

Why do you like working in government communications?

It’s cliché to say ‘the variety’, but it’s true: not only in the activities but also in the skills you use. One day, I’ll be planning something, which obviously takes a lot of research and strategic thinking, and the next I’ll be helping to formulate a reaction to a news story which broke minutes before. It’s also something of a privilege to work with some of the smartest, sharpest people I’ve known.

What issues/campaigns do you work on?

Being part of the strategy, planning and digital media team, I work on any campaign with press office involvement and a digital aspect to it, which – as HMRC has a strong emphasis on digital communications – is all of them.

What is your greatest achievement within government communications?

The tax credit renewals campaign, which is currently coming to an end, because we’ve used digital communications in press office in unprecedented ways. For instance, we’re working very closely with the phonelines to tweet when there are shorter queues, a process which has been picked up and promoted by the BBC, amongst others. Here, we’re using digital communications in a new and interesting way while also helping people, which is what government comms is all about.


Alex Schillemore, Digital Engagement Manager, HM Revenue & Customs

What dAlexSo you do?

I provide advice on how HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) can use digital channels such as websites and social media to communicate and engage with the public and other audiences.

Why do you like working in government communications?

There’s a chance to get involved in a real variety of work and on issues that really mean something and have the potential to impact positively on a large number of people. We’re responsible for making sure that money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.

What issues/campaigns do you work on?

I work on digital engagement. Tax might not seem very exciting from the outside. But every person in the UK is a potential customer – and that means a lot of engagement!

Our team looks at how to use social media and digital tools to help HMRC maximise revenue, improve its services to taxpayers, and cut costs. My day-to-day work covers lots of different types of campaigns.

What’s your greatest achievement within government communications?

Increasing digital skills within the parts of government where I have worked. For example, during the Arab Spring I worked with colleagues in the Middle East when I worked at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Geocaching – this involves finding containers (or ‘caches’) hidden by other geocachers using geographical coordinates. The coordinates are posted online and you use a smartphone app or handheld GPS to navigate to the cache. Once you’ve found the cache, you sign the log and replace it as found for the next cacher.

It’s geeky but fun – and there’s probably one a few hundred metres from your house if you want to get started!

Victoria Judd, Campaign Manager, Department for Transport (DfT)

WVictoriaShat do you do?

Alongside my team I’m responsible for the planning and delivery of the Department for Transport’s THINK! road safety campaigns. THINK! aims to influence public behaviour in order to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads each year.

A typical day involves working with our account managers/directors at our creative, media planning and media buying agencies to develop our next campaign, liaising with internal stakeholders to get their signoff, working with our external stakeholders to support local delivery of our campaigns and communicating our key messages to the general public via social media.

Why do you like working in government communications?

I enjoy being part of a large network of professional communicators. There’s lots of opportunities for career progression including a wide range of training courses, events where you can share learnings with colleagues from other departments and opportunities to take a secondment in other departments.

Our team is one of the few Government departments to have a larger marketing budget and I find it really exciting to work on national advertising campaigns that have a real affect on people’s lives.

What issues/campaigns do you work on?

I’m specifically responsible for delivering our motorcycle, country roads and child and teen safety campaigns. Our country roads campaign is a brand new campaign that aims to motivate drivers to take bends more slowly following statistics that show that 60% of fatal road accidents occur on country roads. I’m really excited to be managing the launch of a new campaign and working on an advert using Lidar scanning, a technique that’s never been used in an advert before.

I also manage our Think Biker Facebook page which has over 57,000 likes and am particularly keen to develop our presence on Twitter.

What is your greatest achievement within Government communications?

I’ve only been in my role and part of the civil service for 5 months however in that short time I’ve succeeded in increasing our engagement on social media, particularly our Think Biker Facebook page where I’ve increased our organic reach by 326%.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy socialising with friends and keeping fit by playing hockey for the East London Hockey Club.


Mohammed Hussein, Senior Press Officer in the Prime Minister’s Press Office

WhMoat do you do?

I work on issues concerning HM Treasury, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), Department for Transport (DfT) and Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).

Why do you like working in government communications?

I like working and communicating issues that matter to and affect a lot of people.

What issues/campaigns do you work on?

I work on issues such as High Speed 2 (HS2), fracking, consumer bills, energy policy and campaigns such as Apprenticeships, infrastructure and Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

What is your greatest achievement within government communications?

Working on the the first ever visit of a British Prime Minister to northern Sri Lanka and travelling with the Prime Minister there.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like going to Secret Cinema.

Sarah Whyte, Media and PR Officer, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT)

Media and PR Officer

What do you do?

I work in the press office at NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT). We are responsible for providing a reliable, efficient supply of blood, organs and associated services to the NHS. Our aim is to save and improve lives.

On a day-to-day basis I work with regional, national and specialist media to promote blood and organ donation to the public. This involves working both proactively and reactively.

A typical day involves anything from providing a local paper with a quote about the benefits of organ or blood donation, working closely with external partners to increase the number of registered blood and organ donors in a particular area or briefing a senior member of staff about a more controversial issue in advance of an interview with a national broadcaster.

Why do you like working in government communications?

PR is often seen as a ‘fluffy’ job with product launches, press days and awards ceremonies. Working at NHS Blood and Transplant is nothing like this.

We work in a fast paced environment and it is rare for any two days to be the same.  I like the fact that the work that I do has a positive affect on the lives of people all across the UK. In the press office we hear from and meet a lot of people whose lives have been saved or improved by blood or organ donation and it really makes me proud to work in an organisation that helps save lives on a daily basis.

What is your greatest achievement within government communications?

The piece of work I am most proud of is a double page spread in the Sunday Mirror. In an episode of Holby City, the organ donation process was portrayed incorrectly and in a very damaging light. As organ donation is such an emotive subject, negative portrayals of the process in the media can often have a big effect on the public’s confidence in us as an organisation.

I worked closely with the journalist at the Daily Mirror to point out the inconsistencies between what was shown on screen and how the process works in practice. The resulting piece had a comment from us about why it is necessary for more people to become organ donors, a comment piece from a donor family who explained how hurt she was by the episode and illustrated the full organ donation process as shown in Holby City and what would happen in real life.

It was a great piece of coverage and I really enjoyed working on it.


Indira Pereira-Lopes, Marketing Manager, HM Revenue and Customs

IndyRWhat do you do?

I deliver high profile paid-for marketing campaigns, working closely with teams across HMRC. I work with key clients to understand their needs and provide communications advice, solutions and support. I ensure campaigns are delivered on time and to budget.

Why do you like working in government communications?

It is an exciting opportunity to get involved in a real variety of work that affect a lot of people. I enjoy the dedication and passion of working with other teams across HMRC and across the Government Communication. There are also great opportunities available to develop my skills.

What issues/campaigns do you work on?

I am currently working on the Tax Credits Renewals campaign. It is a high profile campaign encouraging customers to renew as soon as they receive their renewals pack. I also work on all paid – for media campaigns including Self Assessment, Evasion and Offshore.

What is your greatest achievement within government communications?

I was given the opportunity to be media trained and have given a number of live radio interviews, including 22 radio interviews back to back, a live TV interview for Sky News regarding bogus holiday clubs and a live TV interview for Newsround regarding the Just Tick It campaign.

Tamsin May, Marketing and Campaigns Manager, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), Bristol

What do you do?

My role is to prTamsinMayomote blood, organ, stem cell and tissue donation.

I help develop engaging campaigns that use offline and digital channels in an integrated way to highlight the urgent need for more donors and to encourage more people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register and British Bone Marrow Registry and give blood. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is outreach to, and collaboration with, faith and local community leaders to build support for our work.

Why do you like working in government communications?

Working for NHS Blood and Transplant means I use my communications skills to make a difference and help save lives. I like that my job brings me into daily contact with colleagues from across the NHS – including those working at the frontline caring for and treating patients and donors.

There is also increased contact now between different government communication teams offering opportunities to share good practice and network and for career progression.

What issues/campaigns do you work on?

One issue my team and I are working on is around changing public behaviour to prompt people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register and share their donation decision with their family and friends. Market research helps us to understand drivers and barriers to organ donation and we use this insight to develop, implement and evaluate new marketing and campaign strategies.

What is your greatest achievement within government communications?

The drive for increased efficiency coupled with the political context means the environment in which I work is incrediably dynamic and constantly changing. My greatest achievement has been to build a team that can adapt to this change, innovate in the absence of big marketing budgets and consistently exceed targets.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy body boarding and swimming in the sea.