Strategic engagement

Suggested ways to build your strategic engagement skills.

Specific areas for development within this capability include: building and maintaining relationships with influential individuals and organisations, listening and gathering insight, encouraging advocates, building awareness and coordinating and delivery stakeholder activities.

It’s worth noting that this is a relatively new discipline and entirely unique within government. Although many of the skills are similar to that of a public affairs professional, our focus is on building relationships and advocates rather than on political lobbying.

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.


  • GCS Stakeholder Toolkit: Ensuring Effective Stakeholder Engagement
    This guide will support your engagement with stakeholders and equip you with some helpful tools and advice to develop effective stakeholder communications plans within your own teams.
  • Book: ‘Public Affairs in Practice: A practical guide to lobbying’ by Stuart Thomson and Steve John
    A full guide to all aspects and tasks within the wider public affairs industry.

Read (advanced)

  • Report: Creating ‘An Architecture of Listening’ in Organisations by Jim Macnamara
    This report discusses how well organisations practice two-way communications and makes the case for creating ‘an architecture of listening’ and how to re-engage with audiences.
  • Book: ‘New Strategies for Reputation Management: Gaining control of Issues, crises and corporate social responsibility’ by Andrew Griffin
    A modern guide to reputation management, incorporating the impact of social media, and how to cultivate better reputations amongst the general public and stakeholders.
  • Book: ‘Public Affairs: A global perspective’ by Stuart Thomson
    An all round guide to public affairs and lobbying covering many aspects, and the environments within several individual countries.


TED Talk: ‘Your strategy needs a strategy’ by Martin Reeves

Business strategy expert Martin Reeves advocates transitioning from relying on a single “classical” approach to strategy and moving towards a more tailored approach to strategy and execution selecting from 5 distinct patterns of success.
Watch: ‘Your strategy needs a strategy’

TED Talk: Building stakeholder relationships by Bob Whelan

Bob Whelan, 2009 Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow, talks about the importance of building relationships with key stakeholders to achieve your goals.
Watch: Building stakeholder relationships

TED Talk: ‘Key issues in stakeholder management’ by Anne Gregory

In this short film, Anne Gregory, Professor of Corporate Communications at Huddersfield University, discusses key issues in stakeholder management.
Watch: ‘Key issues in stakeholder management’

Watch (advanced)

Panel discussion: The lost art of listening: the missing key to democratic and civil society participation

Video of a panel discussion around organisational listening held at the London School of Economics in November 2016 including Professor Jim McNamara.
Watch: The lost art of listening: the missing key to democratic and civil society participation

TED Talk: ‘How to build a business that lasts 100 years’ by Martin Reeves

Strategist Martin Reeves explains how executives can apply six principles from living organisms to build resilient businesses that flourish in the face of change.
Watch: ‘How to build a business that lasts 100 years’

Talk: ‘Corporate communications at Hitachi’ by Hans Daems

This video from an International Advertising Associations Business Lunch gives an interesting insight into effective corporate communications from one of the world’s largest technology companies.
Watch: ‘Corporate communications at Hitachi’


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

PRCA webinar: Introduction to Public Affairs

This introductory PRCA webinar is for those who would like to gain an insight into public affairs work.
Watch here

GCS Aspire course: Introduction to External Affairs

Strategic engagement is a core pillar of the Modern Communications Operating Model (MCOM). Stakeholders have the power to inhibit or accelerate achievement of our communications objectives and can galvanise resources far beyond government. The right approach can make all the difference. Stakeholders can add independent credibility to what we are trying to achieve, facilitate our access to audiences, feedback on the progress of campaigns, flag issues early, and add their expertise to the development of communications and policy.

PRCA webinar: Influencer relations

Increase the effectiveness of your influencer outreach.
Watch here

Do (advanced)

GCS Aspire courses are scheduled throughout the year, book a course.

GCS Aspire course: Partnership Training

This course is designed to increase awareness and understanding of how successful partnerships can support the implementation of Government communications. It includes best practice case studies from different GCS teams including Business Partnership and GCS Local. 

PRCA webinar: Unleash your inner creative

This training guarantees you’ll walk away with a toolkit of idea-generating techniques and a raft of ways to overcome creative burnout individually and as a team.
Watch here

PRCA webinar: Running Effective Political Campaigns – Influence the Political Agenda

This course will explore the strategies and approaches available to communications professionals who want to run a campaign designed to influence the political agenda. This webinar will help you to understand how external organisations try and influence government.
Watch here


Please 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 please tell us. Finally, once you are confident in your expertise in strategic engagement, please contact us at so that you can help others build their skills.