Working with policy
In government, communications teams and policy teams tend to sit separately, but they have to work very closely together to deliver public services and promote government policy and achieve common goals.
On this page:
- Tips for policy officials, on working with communications colleagues
- Tips for communications officials, on working with policy
Tips for policy officials, on working with communications colleagues
Meet your communications colleagues as early as possible to discuss your policy development, especially if you’re planning to make a public announcement.
In government communications, a press or communications officer will have a responsibility for a particular portfolio, region, or area of work. Ask who is responsible for your policy area and build a good working relationship with them. Creative input from communications can add a new dimension to policy development.
Government communicators are busy. It helps them if you can remove jargon from policy documents and background without compromising on accuracy.
Collaborate to decide on how to communicate:
- Do you want proactive or reactive press engagement on your policy? The former might require a press release, the later will need prepared quotes to respond to an emerging story about your policy.
- If you’re announcing your policy or want to promote it on social media, you might need to commission the digital team to make content for social media.
- Events and visits:
- Think about if you will need to plan a Ministerial visit around a public announcement.
Use communications to assess the impact of your policy. 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.
Tips for communications officials, on working with policy
Learn about policy
If you’re assigned a specific policy area or region to cover in your communications role, proactively build professional links with the relevant policy officials and learn about what they’re working on. Developing policy expertise, and contributing with your creative insights, will help colleagues deliver their policy more effectively.
Help policy craft their narrative
Policy is complex and the language can get complicated too. Your job is to help the public understand it, and ensure that it lands appropriately. Your fresh eye to a policy brief can help remove jargon and improve the way we communicate it with the public.
To ensure your communications are accurate and relevant, always make sure that policy colleagues are content with the language and approach.
Track and share public insights on policy announcements, or be able to advise on how to consult the public to make sure policy lands appropriately
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
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.
Some communications professionals will sit with policy teams. This is typically called embedded communications. In these roles, communicators have to develop policy expertise and collaborate closer with the departments main communications team.