External Affairs teams are responsible for building and maintaining relationships with a range of influential individuals and organisations.
However, our purpose isn’t simply to get them to share our messages, but to listen to what they have to say. Genuine two-way engagement improves our understanding of what our audiences are thinking and creates true advocates in the longer term.
We build awareness and understanding of government policies by explaining what we’re trying to achieve away from the noise of the media. This dialogue can help achieve a better balance – encouraging supportive voices, but also answering concerns and mitigating criticism before the debate plays out in the public eye. Pre-briefing trusted partners under the same embargo as we do the media also allows them more time consider their response.
Of course, we work in close partnership with our colleagues in policy who regularly engage with a range of different individuals and organisations. Our role is not to micromanage every external conversation and meeting, but to coordinate high level and Ministerial engagement and to encourage best practice; seeing the bigger picture and considering the wider impact we can have.
By doing all this, we not only open up new and more direct channels of communication (many organisations are far better placed to speak to consumers and businesses), but demonstrate the true value that the Civil Service puts on listening to people’s views and working in partnership for the public benefit.
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.
Read the External-Affairs-Operating-Model (3.6mb)