Digital skills vary according to Modern Communications Operation Model (MCOM) specialism and include: creating content, managing platforms, securing third-party influence, digital marketing, data modelling, coding, and open-source anonymised social listening.
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A central GCS Digital team sets the benchmark for government digital communications activity. Operating across the Cabinet Office and No.10, we provide cutting-edge digital communication services for central government and Downing Street. We also lead cross-government transformation programmes to enhance GCS digital capability throughout the profession.
We work closely with the Government Digital Service (GDS), which leads the Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) function, to ensure our transformation of government communication operations and practice is fully aligned with their wider digital transformation of government services and infrastructure.
Our remit currently includes:
- Digital transformation programme: Accelerate
- Rapid Response Unit (RRU)
- Media Monitoring Unit (MMU) Modernisation
- Media-Buying Transformation
- Digital Centre of Expertise (DCOE)
- Web-based Development
Digital transformation programme: Accelerate
In 2018, we set up the Accelerate programme. It offered industry-leading professional development, consultancy, and training across government to ensure that GCS is leading the way digitally.
The programme drove innovation and helped communication professionals commit time, resources, and energy to personal and team upskilling.
Since December 2020, we offer digital learning through the GCS Academy.
Rapid Response Unit (RRU)
Launched in April 2018, the RRU works to counter misinformation and disinformation and reclaim a fact-based public debate.
We achieve this by using the FACT model to monitor, assess and respond to online news and (public) social media activity round the clock, coordinating with National Security teams when necessary.
We are also delivering secondments and media toolkits through the Accelerate programme to build media capability in press offices across government. We continue to innovate and develop our approach.
Media Monitoring Unit (MMU) modernisation
The RRU is also radically modernising the MMU, delivering a range of new daily, weekly and commissioned online news reports and tailored social media insight products to press officers and media specialists across government. We are also enhancing the pre-existing MMU service.
Sitting within the GCS Digital team, a Media and Marketing Data (MMD) unit leads the digital, data and tech transformation of government advertising. This follows the transition of our £600 million four year media-buying contract to Manning Gottlieb OMD in November 2018.
Our new partnership (‘OmniGov’) is built on pillars of transparency and value for money, with a collaborative focus on real outcomes and a commitment by us to become smarter clients.
Digital Centre of Expertise (DCOE)
The DCOE is a cross-government forum, managed by the central GCS Digital Content team. It facilitates the continuous coordination and amplification of central government digital content and publishing activity, and hosts monthly sessions for industry experts and government content and publishing leaders to share best practices. Membership is open to all central government Heads of Digital.
The GCS Digital team identifies emerging trends and provides guidance on how government communications professionals should respond. Launched at the 2018 GCS & LG Comms Academy, our latest report (‘5 Trends in Leading-edge Communications’) is available. We also work with industry experts to run immersive workshops across government, sharing best practice and research and analysis of the latest communications trends.
Our Development team designs and hosts a variety of innovative micro-sites, tools and online platforms to support government campaigns, enhance data infrastructure and analysis, and provide specialist applications for our transformation programmes. Alongside this, we manage and deliver the TV & Radio Fillers Marketing Service, securing free airtime on local and national channels to promote government campaigns. The team also works very closely with GDS to support the management and governance of cross-government campaigns sites and GOV.UK.
Why digital matters
The purpose of the GCS is to deliver world-class communications that support government priorities, enable the effective and efficient operation of public services, and improve citizen’s lives. In order to achieve this we cannot merely keep-up with the pace of change, but must actively lead the way.
We need a fundamental shift in how digital is positioned in government communications.
This shift is as much about mindset as skillset. A strong digital attitude depends upon a broad awareness of technological advances, an understanding of the implications of current changes in communication for government, and active consideration of emerging opportunities for innovation.
Digital means the application of contemporary data and technology to all specialisms set out in the GCS Modern Communication Operating Model (MCOM), and the use of web, mobile, social media and other non-analogue channels for communication with the public.