External affairs

Introduction to External Affairs

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.

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

When considering setting up or reviewing a new or existing team structure, the general MCOM team principles should also be referenced.

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)