External affairs

External Affairs teams are responsible for building and maintaining relationships with influential individuals and organisations for the public benefit.

On this page:


New on-demand webinar (July 2022)

This webinar is for communicators who want to learn how to build third-party advocacy to help deliver government priorities.

Meet the Top Team: We make ministers’ media moments

Hand Shake Concept Businesspeople Team

The Cabinet Office External Affairs and Engagement team reveals what goes on behind the scenes to get our ministers out and about meeting people, making tomorrow’s headlines.

External affairs in government

We need to communicate directly with people and via trusted advocates to provide credible voices that can rise above the noise, which we see as the core purpose of External Affairs.

Government policy matters to millions around the country. That’s why we need trusted advocates to cut through the noise and reach out to priority audiences.


Building and maintaining relationships with influential individuals and organisations for the public benefit:

  • Listening:
    • allowing us to gather intelligence to inform internal thinking, horizon scan and provide early warning.
  • Dialogue:
    • obtaining balance (encourage supportive voices, mitigate criticism) and disseminate messages through stakeholder channels.
  • Awareness:
    • explaining government policies to influential individuals and organisations for public benefit.
  • Best practice:
    • co-ordinating high-level stakeholder engagement, providing advice based on gathered intelligence and evaluating impact.

Our standards

External Affairs Operating Model

The External Affairs Operating Model is an introduction for those considering setting up an External Affairs function or building their current capability in this area.

It develops the ‘strategic engagement’ content in the GCS Modern Communication Operating Model (MCOM), focusing on the importance of building alliances with partners and third parties to disseminate messages and share content. Find out about:

  • what are external affairs?
  • Strategic Engagement versus External Affairs
  • external affairs best practice
  • case studies

External Affairs Operating Model

What your colleagues have to say about external affairs

Watch the video (1 minute 52 seconds).

Learning and resources

Start learning at your own pace and build the skills you need, using our curriculum.

    Image credits:
  • Shutterstock/ProStockStudio (1)
  • GCS (2)