Digital communications

Suggested ways to build your digital communication skills.

Specific areas for development within this capability include: better understanding of data and how it can be used to reach and communicate with our audiences, increase skills and capability in the use of social media analysis software to gain insights, create more relevant and impactful content, improve reactive media handling online, understand digital marketing and the targeting opportunities it offers, and improve evaluation of online communications activity.

This list is not exhaustive and should be used in conjunction with discussions with your line manager about your professional development plan (PDP). You should also look at what is on offer from Civil Service Learning and any professional body that you belong too.

All GCS courses and PRCA webinars are available for free to GCS members. Book a course.

Read, watch/listen, do

Clearly you have high level skills in this area but it is essential you still continue to build your expertise. At this level, it is most effective to network with colleagues, keep abreast of current thinking and contribute to senior practitioner groups both within the profession and across industry. As the GCS Professional Development Performance Management Standards specify everyone at Grade 7 and above should be actively helping to up skill others.

We also encourage colleagues with this level of expertise below Grade 7 to do the same. Contact if you are interested in being a trainer.


  • Website: Think with Google
    This website is regularly updated with digital marketing and audience insights.
  • Report: Edleman Digital Trends Report 2018
    This 2018 report features subject matter experts from around the globe to define nine strategic trends happening in the digital space.
  • Book: ‘Dataclysm – what our online lives tell us about our offline selves’ by Christian Rudder
    Drawing on data from OKCupid, Google, Facebook, and more, Christian Rudder reveals our hopes, fears, dreams and desires.

Read (Advanced)

  • Book: ‘Connected: The surprising power of our social networks and how they shape our lives’ by Nicholas Christiakis and James H. Fowler
    Christakis and Fowler present compelling evidence for our profound influence on one another as they explain how social networks form and how they operate.
  • Book: ‘Information is beautiful’ by David McCandless
    This is a visual journey through the most revealing trends, offering inspiration on how to visualise your data.
  • Publication: ‘Fake news – a roadmap’ published by King’s Centre for Strategic Communications and NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence
    Fifteen MA students studying strategic communications have collaborated with NATO to publish the first definitive analysis of the growing phenomenon of ‘fake news’ in this fascinating book.


TED Talk: ‘The power of story’ by Greg Power

Greg Power is President of the Canadian operations of world leading public relations agency Weber Shandwick. Throughout his communications career, his interest has been in the challenge of building the bridge between a message and an audience.
Watch ‘The power of story’

TED Talk: ‘How to get your ideas to spread’ by Seth Godin

Marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting our attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones.
Watch ‘How to get your ideas to spread’

BBC Academy Podcast: ‘The truth about fake news’

The BBC’s media editor Amol Rajan asks James Ball, Special Correspondent at BuzzFeed News, and Mark Frankel, Social Media Edtitor at BBC News, about the different meanings of ‘fake news’ and how journalists should respond to it.
Listen to ‘The truth about fake news’

Watch/listen (Advanced)

BBC World Service Podcast: ‘The past and future of fake news’

The past and future of fake news – what can be done about social media misinformation and what impact does it have around the world? Mike Wendling asks a panel of experts from Buzzfeed, the Poynter Institute, and First Draft News.
Listen to ‘The past and future of fake news’

TED Talk: ‘What Physics taught me about marketing’ by Dan Cobley

Physics and marketing don’t seem to have much in common, but Dan Cobley is passionate about both. He brings these unlikely bedfellows together using Newton’s second law, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, the scientific method and the second law of thermodynamics to explain the fundamental theories of branding.
Watch ‘What Physics taught me about marketing’

TED Talk: ‘The Secret to Successful Crisis Management in the 21st Century’ by Melissa Agnes

Melissa Agnes discusses the impacts that the digital landscape have on crisis management and the key to successful crisis management.
Watch ‘The Secret to Successful Crisis Management in the 21st Century’


GCS Aspire courses are scheduled throughout the year, check which courses are currently available and book.

GOV.UK training

To be able to publish any kind of content on GOV.UK, you have to first attend a 2 day-long course on ‘Writing for GOV.UK‘ and ‘Using Whitehall publisher’ which you can book through your department’s head of digital publishing.

GCS Aspire Course: Creative Content – Photography 101

This Photography 101 course comprises tutorials and practical sessions covering key photography skills using a DSLR camera, top tips for storytelling and lessons learned for those taking photos for Government communications.

Google analytics for beginners training

Free online training course in how to use Google Analytics to understand how people are interacting with your websites.
Visit Google Analytics

Do – (Advanced)

GCS Aspire courses are scheduled throughout the year, check which courses are currently available and book.

GCS Aspire Course: Online Crisis Response and Media Relations

This course will include real life examples from the public private sector as well as some useful models and checklists. In three phases spread through the day participants will be asked to work in teams to handle an unfolding fictional crisis scenario using a private online crisis simulation platform, Crisis90. Participants will be guided through three stages where they will be able to compare their strategic responses, key messages and tactical approaches.


Share what you have learnt with those you work with so that we can all continuously improve and if you come across other great sources of learning to read, watch or do, tell us. Finally, once you are confident in your expertise in digital communications, contact us at so that you can help others build their skills.