Five principles to make your campaigns more inclusive

All government and public communication must be clear, comprehensible and accessible for all audiences. These principles should be used at the planning stage of communication campaigns to ensure that inclusivity is woven into all elements of the OASIS plan.

On this page:

  1. Creative
  2. Channel selection
  3. Community engagement
  4. Language
  5. Accessibility

1. Creative

Creative is often at the forefront of a campaign. We can help to ensure that our creative approach is inclusive to all groups by considering the following points:

  • wherever possible, use case studies and imagery that reflect our diverse society and show examples of ‘people like me’
  • promoting authenticity and accuracy by encouraging media partners to record and create campaign messages in their own voice
  • collaborating with relevant radio, TV and print and online media outlets and using their expertise and experience to develop bespoke content that is more likely to resonate with their audiences


2. Channel selection

It is a given that channel selection will depend on the aim, nature and target audience of the campaign – but the points below should provide a helpful starting point when considering inclusivity:


  • social media, TV and radio should be prioritised over print media to take into account possible lower literacy levels in English and/or other languages
  • radio can be challenging to record multiple versions of adverts in different community languages: teams should consider working with community radio stations to combat this

Specific non-English speakers, in specific areas

  • alongside local authorities, teams should consider working with other groups such as community and faith organisations, large local employers and charities
  • these channels will depend on the local area or community that is being targeted, and should be ongoing, as opposed to over a limited time period, to ensure good relations are maintained


3. Community engagement

We know that some audiences have lower levels of trust in government than others. Community engagement is vital to build trust and can include:

  • co-creating materials alongside those in the local community
  • ensuring community engagement is ongoing throughout a campaign, particularly when evaluating the impact
  • collaborating with internal colleagues from diverse backgrounds to undertake media interviews, highlighting their role
  • recruiting advocates within your team and externally who can support in taking a particular message out to specific communities
  • using insight to identify any specific barriers to building trust with certain communities, and engaging with that community to overcome them
  • providing extra support by creating webinars, local outreach, buddying and workshops as appropriate to engage groups
  • applying the EAST framework when campaigns have a behaviour change element: has the desired behaviour been made Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely for the community?

4. Language

Translating material into different languages to suit the target audience is often a key requirement:

  • major assets from coronavirus (COVID-19) campaigns are translated into 10 languages as standard, chosen using data on language prevalence and populations in the UK
  • local authorities can request that assets are translated into other languages to reflect their local communities
  • any agency translations should be checked with a speaker of the language to be sure of any nuances in the translation
  • content relevant to Wales should be created in both Welsh and English


5. Accessibility

Making our digital and written communications accessible is vital. GCS has clear parameters for accessibility for digital communications, which include:

  • Readability:
    • writing messages simply
    • avoiding large chunks of text, stylisation and non-standard symbols, for example, use of italics, large areas of bold text and overuse of capital letters – see the GDS Style Guide for a complete list
    • using Easy Read versions where possible (noting significant turnaround times on these)
  • Colours:
    • avoiding the use of just colour to distinguish information, and using a colour contrast checker to ensure that information is readable – you should aim for a contrast ratio of 4.5:1
  • Images:
    • posting key guidance messages in copy (not just using an image) and ensuring any images of printed documents have links to HTML versions or Open Document Formats
    • providing alternative text (alt text) for images and graphics featured on digital platforms, including social media
  • Videos:
    • considering users who are Deaf or hard of hearing (for example, ensuring voiceovers mirror any on-screen copy)
    • considering users who are blind or partially sighted (for example, describing any significant visual-only information in the video, applying subtitles or closed captions and providing written transcripts) as well as users with photo-sensitive epilepsy or cognitive impairments (for example, by avoiding flashing images).
    • using animations or step-by-step instructional videos to clarify key messages – applying the accessibility good practice described above
  • Testing:
    • working with digital colleagues to thoroughly test any pages to ensure that they fulfil these criteria

For further details on inclusive communications across the entire range of protected characteristics under the Equalities Act, colleagues should consult this Government Equalities Office assessment:

Download the Inclusive Communications Assessment Template (GCS members only) ask the development adviser in your department for the GCS password or contact us for their details.

Learn how to publish accessible communications