GCS2020 – Making the Best, Standard

Blog post by Russell Grossman

Wednesday 16 October 2019

The Government Communication Service is the professional body for all government communications professionals. With some 4500 of us across over 350 different UK government departments, public bodies and devolved administrations, that means our work in communications must make the best, standard.

It’s no mean task, but fortunately across GCS we have a lot of talented, skilled and productive people to make this happen.  Actually, in my personal opinion, we have some of the best in the business. At all levels.

But simply ‘creating messages’ (Sending Out Stuff, even) and applying PR judgement is only the start.  Seeking relevant data, applying evidence-based insight, countering fake news and using effective measurement are just four essentials needed to help audiences understand key messages and get cut through.

So from the time in 2012 when a group of us as Directors of Communication sat down and created the GCS, to last year, we ran five annual improvement programmes.

Collectively these have created 28 different initiatives for continuous improvement. They comprise what is known as the GCS Canon of Professional Practice

The Canon includes favourites such as the Modern Communications Operating Model, now practised by the majority of our comms teams; curation of the internal communications and external affairs disciplines with their defined Heads of Profession (as one of these, I’ll declare an interest here!); and – really important – people and talent initiatives such as our Apprenticeship, Internship and GCS Fast Streamer schemes.

We’re proud of what we’ve achieved and continue to socialise this through the many conferences GCS contributes to and the professional guides we produce (all of which are on the GCS website).   There’s even international interest in our work.

However, when you’re out in the lead you must continue to keep up.  Technology and society is changing at an exciting but often bewildering pace and comms practice is always evolving.  We need more skills and better leadership to meet these challenges.

So rather than run a sixth year of the Improvement Programme, GCS senior comms practitioners agreed to a bigger ambition – GCS2020.

GCS 2020 is now operating through four challenging sets of work which will give an improved experience for everyone in government and public service communications : from recruitment, through professional development and career progression to maintaining our innovative, world class practice.  Around 100 people are involved in the work, having volunteered on top of their ‘day job’.

The four sets of GCS 2020 work are:

  • LEADERSHIP: across to our people, into the industry and for the public
  • STANDARDS: excellence, professional standards and quality
  • PEOPLE: your communications career and nurturing everyone’s ambitions
  • SCALE: using our size to maximise creativity; risk and innovation and problem solving.

Over the next few weeks, look out for blogs from my colleagues leading these, on how their work is shaping up and the specific benefits it will bring to our profession over the next year.

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