Case study: digital media

Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)

In recent years, GCHQ has been on a journey to demystify, soften and humanise our brand to build trust in the organisation to help maintain its licence to operate, inspire the next generation of recruits and demonstrate how GCHQ is at the heart of national security.

Alongside explaining how our missions help to keep the country, one of the ways we’ve done that is to play on our proud history of our diverse “mix of minds” solving seemingly impossible national security challenges. We’ve given our younger target audiences a taste of the skill set they might need to work for us by publishing 2 puzzle books, selling more than 400,000 copies and raising £500k for the mental health initiative Heads Together. We also push out weekly puzzles through our popular social media channels.

To mark the fundraising milestone and enhance awareness of the GCHQ brand, we devised a social media influencer-led campaign called #PuzzlePose to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, promoting the healthy mind healthy body concept during lockdown with a special puzzle.

For this digital-first campaign, we worked with social media influencers popular among one of our key target audiences – young women. The campaign saw a BBC Radio One DJ, the Most Influential Woman in UK Tech Winner 2020, a Channel 4 presenter, comedians, actors, authors and cyber security influencers all strike a #PuzzlePose on Twitter, showing their support for Mental Health Awareness Week while promoting GCHQ’s fundraising efforts in a playful way.

Through these influencers, we reached 4 million people in our target audiences who are unlikely to have interacted with our brand before, encountering an organisation with a sense of fun, good corporate social values while also maintaining intrigue. Our own content reached two million people with double the number of impressions than our usual puzzles and overwhelmingly positive sentiment.

The social media conversation generated also sparked media interest with a number of national online media outlets picking up on the story creating a renewed circular drive of social media interest, culminating with our chief puzzler doing an interview on BBC R4 Today programme.

We gained hundreds of followers on both Twitter and Instagram as a result, helping to shift the makeup of our audience on the latter to a more female-focused audience. We also saw a small uptick in the number of people visiting our careers website on the day of the campaign.

Josh P, GCHQ