Case study: explaining policy on TV

10 Downing Street (No. 10) and Cabinet Office

As a press officer, you need to be able to adapt quickly, particularly in a crisis situation like the coronavirus pandemic. In March 2019, a decision was taken to establish a daily Government COVID-19 press conference to give the public regular updates on measures to control the virus.

Prime Ministers have always given traditional press conferences, but the challenges of virtual working and the frequency of briefings made this a very different task.

No. 10 press team worked with events and digital comms colleagues and media special advisers to quickly set up a virtual system that enabled Ministers to address the public and journalists to dial in and ask questions in a way that had never been done before.

We came up with a digital solution, and ran lots of tests to ensure the briefings could run smoothly on live television. Each day the press office ensured that journalists were briefed and ready to ask probing questions on behalf of the nation.

Over time, we added other elements to the briefings, including data slides, animations and questions from the public to keep up engagement. During this time, the No. 10 dining room was transformed into a temporary media studio, playing host to over 100 press conferences.