Working with policy

Policy and communications are mutually dependent - they should work together right from the start and should be developed in tandem.

Policy delivery isn’t a linear process that starts with the development of a policy and ends with its communication to the target audience.

Developing effective partnerships with your policy and delivery colleagues is central to effective communication. How we communicate is as important as what we communicate.

Communications should never be an afterthought. In fact, good communications could discover useful insights that kick-start a new policy or help form a case for developing or amending policy.

The processes that departments use to integrate policy and communications differ across government, but close partnership is essential to any model. Here you will find prompts that you can use on a day-to-day basis to get the most from working with your policy teams.

Why have an integrated approach?

By prioritising strategic communications within policy development, government is putting people’s needs at the heart of its work. The way we communicate policy is just as important as the policy itself.

Without an integrated approach, the policy will be ill-informed, poorly communicated and will fail to meet departmental objectives. Joint planning by policy and communication teams can:

  • promote shared objectives
  • help form accurate strategies and budgets
  • improve processes and relationships in departments
  • improve understanding of each other’s work
  • reduce duplication
  • improve efficiency
  • make it easier to work to joint procedures

How strategic communications can contribute to better policy-making

Insight generation can help inform policy developments and suggest how policy can best meet the needs of the public.

Good communications can help make successful policy delivery happen.

Segmentation and targeting can help identify what the target audience thinks about a particular issue or policy, and help assess the impact of policy decisions on audiences.

Communicators work at the interface between the department and the public, with their fingers on the pulse of both. They are also tuned in to wider moves across government as a whole. Policy and communications teams often have access to different networks both within and outside the department – so close working can bring great benefits to both.

Creative input can add a new dimension to policy development and can contribute channels to successful delivery.

Development of an early core script helps to focus the ‘story’. The communications team often acts as the keeper of key messages.

Example: Adding value

Communications can add value to White Papers:

  • By inputting to specific policies in the White Paper
  • By boosting the numbers responding to the consultation
  • By maximising media opportunities for ministers
  • Using effective stakeholder engagement
  • By activating the role of the local/regional network
  • By extending the reach of launch messages to key groups
  • By using real-life case studies