Competency Framework – technical specifications

This competency framework – technical specifications is designed for all professional communicators in government up to, and including Grade 6, and can be used for recruitment and career development.

Government Communication Professional Competency Framework

PDF, 1MB, 24 pages

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. To request an accessible format contact us.

Details

The framework can help you broaden the range of skills you have and make integrated working easier. The competencies have been structured around the four stages of a strategic communication planning process.

Use this framework in conjunction with the technical element of the Civil Service Success Profiles, and also for setting performance objectives in your personal development plan (PDP).

Contents


Introduction

Every day, government communicators deliver great work that supports communities and helps citizens understand their rights and responsibilities.

The challenge for communications staff is to deliver better communications with reduced resources. The opportunity to think creatively, review existing practices, harness the power of digital communications and run cost-effective campaigns should excite everyone who believes in our work.

Central to achieving this is a strong communications profession focused on raising standards and improving quality. Having a shared understanding of the competencies we need will be at the heart of this.

The new competencies for professional communicators complement and will be used in conjunction with the new CivilService CompetencyFramework. Together they define not just what we do but how we do it, the skills we need now and those we are likely to need in the future. I look forward to working with you as we use this framework to create an exceptional communication profession

Alex Aiken, Executive Director of Government Communication


How to use this framework

This professional competency framework is designed for all professional communicators in government up to, and including, Grade 6. It is designed to help you broaden the range of skills you have and to make integrated working easier.

These competencies can be used for:

  • Recruitment and Selection – To help determine the job/person specification for roles when recruiting. Applicants will be measured against these competencies together with relevant CivilService competencies at interview.
  • Performance Management – To define standards of performance and skill levels required for different roles.
  • Personal Development Plans – To help you plan your development and identify training needs.
  • Career Development – To inform the skills and knowledge you will need in your next role.

The competencies in this framework have been structured around the four stages of a strategic communication planning process: Insight, Ideas, Implementation and Impact.

This framework should be used in conjunction with the Civil Service Competency Framework. Each section starts with a reference to the CivilService competencies most relevant for communicators, with examples of appropriate behaviours. There might be others relevant depending upon the role.

For each competency, we have identified core skills and knowledge applicable to all communicators.

The framework then includes specialist skills and knowledge specific tofour
communication disciplines:

  • Campaigns and Marketing
  • Press and Media
  • Digital
  • Internal Communication

This competency framework is designed to be fexible; the competencies are not exhaustive. There may be some roles and responsibilities within government communication where the framework might need to be supplemented with other specifc skills and knowledge.

The competencies are cumulative – for example Grades 7/6 will be expected to demonstrate competencies at their own level as well as all those below


Competency 1: Insight

Gain an accurate and deep understanding of the issue(s). Use insight to identify target audiences and partners and to inform communication objectives, messages and solutions.

Highlighted below are competencies from the Civil Service Competency Framework relevant to the Insight stage of planning communication.

Competencies: insight stage of planning communication.

Information Officer (AIOs/IOs)

AIOs/IOs (Civil Service Levels 1 & 2) Are delivering communication activity and developing their career and key skills.

  • Setting Direction:
    • Seeing the Big Picture
      • Keep up-to-date with a broad set of issues relating to the work of the Department.
      • Gather information from a range of relevant sources inside and outside the Department to inform own work.
    • Making Effective Decisions
      • Undertake appropriate analysis to support decisions or recommendations.
  • Engaging People
    • Collaborating and Partnering
      • Demonstrate aninterest in others and develop a range of contacts outside own team to help get the job done.

Senior Information Officer (SIO)

SIOs (Civil Service Level 3) Have responsibility for managing communication strategies, projects and teams

  • Setting Direction
    • Seeing the Big Picture
      • Be alert to emerging issues and trends which might impact or benefit own and team’s work.
      • Develop an understanding of own area’s strategy and how this contributes to Departmental priorities.
    • Changing and Improving
      • Activelyencourageideas from a range of sources and stakeholders and use these to inform thinking.
  • Setting Direction
    • Making Effective Decisions
      • Identify a range of relevant and credible information sources and recognise the need to collect new data when necessary from internal and external sources.
    • Recognise patterns and trends in a wide range of evidence/data and draw key conclusions.
    • Engaging People
      • Collaborating and Partnering
        • Actively seek input from a diverse range of people.

Grade 7/6s

Grade 7/6s (Civil Service Level 4) are directing and leading larger
communication programmes. Inspiring and enabling colleagues to excel.

  • Setting Direction
    • Seeing the Big Picture
      • Anticipate economic, social, political, environmental and technological developments to keep activity relevant and targeted.
      • Identify implications of Departmental and political priorities and strategy on own area to ensure plans and activities reflect these.
      • Bring together views and perspectives of stakeholders to gain a wider picture of the landscape surrounding activities and policies.
  • Setting Direction
    • Changing and Improving
      • Effectively capture, utilise and share customer insight and views from a wide range of takeholders to ensure better policy and delivery.
    • Making Effective Decisions
      • Weigh up data from various sources, recognising when to bring in experts/researchers to add to available information.
      • Draw together and present reasonable conclusions from a wide range of incomplete and complex evidence and data – able to act or decide even when details are not clear.
    • Engaging People
      • Collaborating and Partnering
        • Actively build and maintain a network of colleagues and contacts to achieve progress on objectives and shared interests.

Core communication skills and knowledge applicable to all communicators

Information Officer (AIOs/IOs)

  • Review existing sources of insight (including previous communication activity) to understand the overall context for communication and audience influences/influencers.
  • Use insight to identify target audiences and partners, support decision making and help inform the overall communication approach.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the communication objectives and how these support the overall policy objective

Senior Information Officer (SIO)

  • Work with policy colleagues in a timely way to examine and define policy issues to be supported.
    Commission additional research to gain insight into issues, where required.
  • Develop measurable communication objectives to
    support the delivery of policy.
  • Use segmentation and mapping techniques to identify target audiences and potential partners.
  • Ensure strategies take into account the recommendations and lessons learnt from evaluations of previous campaigns.

Grades 7/6s

  • Provide robust and deliverable communication advice to ministers and policy colleagues.
  • Promote and encourage the early integration of strategic communication and policy development.
  • Examine ministerial priorities to identify the role for communication and translate those priorities into measurable communication objectives.
  • Ensure communication objectives complement and support policy/ business objectives.
  • Build ongoing relationships with key stakeholders/ advocates/partners, to gather intelligence and build awareness of the overall context for communication

Communication disciplines: additional skills and knowledge applicable to a specific communication discipline

Campaigns and marketing:

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Interpret quantitative and qualitative data to identify stakeholder and audience insights.
  • SIOs:
    • Develop a strong understanding of customer/audience insights and how these can drive behaviour change
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Draw on behavioural insights to provide strategic advice to ministers and policy colleagues on campaigns.
    • Understand the extent of the role communication can play in supporting behaviour change, and the benefits/risks of alternative approaches (such as legislation).

Press and media:

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Maintain an awareness of the news agenda and emerging news events.
    • Understand how to optimise audience reach through a mix of media channels, including news aggregators.
  • SIOs:
    • Review communication and media plans to ensure activities reflect policy developments and the emerging news agenda.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Understand and interpret the emerging news agenda and factors which will affect this agenda.

Digital:

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Build audience insight using appropriate tools to monitor content and listen to conversations on key external digital channels, including social media.
    • Provide advice on appropriate digital channels to reach target audiences. Research where target audiences are active, including online partnership networks.
    • Gather and analyse evidence to understand user needs and appetite for digital products.
  • SIOs:
    • Use analytical tools and techniques to identify key online influencers and links between partner groups to better target digital communication.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Demonstrate a deep understanding of the digital landscape and emerging trends.
    • Apply this knowledge to lead the content development strategy and to identify and develop digital channels.
    • Reflect user needs back to the organisation to ensure content and services are designed with a user and citizen focus.

Internal Communications:

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Understand the range of employee insight sources (both quantitative and qualitative) available within the organisation.
    • Gather insight on staff communication usage, needs and preferences. Use these data to inform selection of internal communication channels.
  • SIOs:
    • Analyse and segment internal audiences to target communication effectively.
    • Develop a strong understanding of different internal audiences. Use this knowledge to ensure the tone, language and format of internal communication is easily accessible to and read by a range of staff groups.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Draw on organisational insight to advise leaders on targeted employee communication strategies and actions to improve employee engagement.

Competency 2: Ideas

Develop the communication strategy and plan. Select channels and develop key messages and content for target audiences. Identify evaluation criteria.

Highlighted below are competencies from the Civil Service Competency Framework relevant to the Ideas stage of planning communication.

Ideas stage of planning communication

Information Officer (AIOs/IOs)

AIOs/IOs (Civil Service Levels 1 & 2) Are delivering communication activity and developing their career and key skills.

  • Engaging People
    • Leading and Communicating
      • Express ideas effectively, both orally and in writing, and with sensitivity and respect for others.
  • Delivering Results
    • Achieving Commercial Outcomes
      • Be aware of and comply with Departmental procurement processes and know when to access-commercial expertise.

SIOs

SIOs have responsibility for managing communication strategies, projects and teams.

  • Engaging People
    • Leading and Communicating
      • Take opportunities to regularly communicate and interact with staff, helping to clarify goals and activities and the links between these and Departmental strategy.
    • Delivering Results
      • Achieving Commercial Outcomes
        • Consider, in consultation with commercial experts, a variety of ways of working with partners and contractors to identify more efficient outcomes, balancing cost, quality and turn around times.
        • Managing a Quality Service Work with team to set priorities, goals,objectives and timescales.

Grade 7/6s

People at these grades are directing and leading larger communication programmes. Inspiring and enabling colleagues to excel.

  • Setting Direction
    • Making Effective Decisions
      • Analyse and evaluate pros and cons and identify risks in order to make decisions that take account of the wider context, including diversity and sustainability.
  • Engaging People
    • Leading and Communicating
      • Clarify strategies and plans, giving clear sense of direction and purpose for self and team.
      • Confidently engage with stakeholders and colleagues at all levels to generate commitment to goals.

Core communication skills and knowledge applicable to all communicators

AIOs/IOs

  • Develop outline communication plans, identifying the most effective channels and tools to engage audiences and maximise reach.
  • Design and develop engaging, targeted content and messages suitable for use across a range of channels.
  • Demonstrateanawarenessof how channels work together and complement each other.
  • Explore opportunities to use low/no cost channels, including earned, owned and paid-for channels.

SIOs

  • Demonstrate flexible, creative thinking. Test and refine ideas to develop innovative solutions.
  • Confirm segmentation to ensure audiences are targeted effectively.
  • Design integrated communication strategies and examine it with existing plans.
  • Ensure the most appropriate and cost-effective channels mix and maximise the potential of digital channels.
  • Develop plans, considering resources and budgets. Identify risks and plan mitigating actions.
  • Embedevaluationandtracking into communication strategies. Determine evaluation criteria and consider how to assess the impact of communication.
  • Work with policy teams to produce quality Efficiency and ReformGroup(ERG)submissions. Follow the agreed process, incorporating realistic timetables.

Grade 7/6s

  • Lead the development and implementation of innovative communication strategies that meet objectives.
  • Review communication strategies to ensure integration across communication channels and identify any gaps.
  • Review communication strategies for overall context and register, to protect both Departmentalreputationand establish ft with government communication priorities.

Communication disciplines

Campaigns and marketing

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Advise on appropriate use of different channels or campaigns, ensuring an integrated approach and using digital technologies to full potential.
  • SIOs:
    • Developanintegratedcampaigns approach, ensuring owned/ earned/bought channels work together to achieve communication objectives.
    • Construct marketing briefs and tendering documents to an agreed standard, applying rigour and robust financial management throughout.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Demonstrate robust knowledge of the industry, media and wider communication and marketing landscape.
    • Draw on this expertise to deliver innovative campaign strategies and provide recommendations to ministers and policy colleagues.

Press and media

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Demonstrate a practical understanding of how print, broadcast and digital media work, including the media cycle, circulation and deadlines.
    • Work up ideas for stories and case studies that support communication and business/policy objectives.
  • SIOs:
    • Initiate and lead the development of both reactive and proactive, integrated media campaigns that build on insight and tracking data. Work constructively with policy colleagues and partners to gain expert opinions.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Demonstrate a robust knowledge of the media landscape. Draw on this expertise to develop innovative, proactive press strategies. Advice on press actions at a senior level and support teams to develop campaigns.
    • Influence the media agenda through proactive forward planning. Develop strategies to protect and improve corporate and government reputation.

Digital

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Demonstrate a practical understanding of emerging digital services, tools and trends, including techniques for optimising digital content. Actively engage with partners in online networks.
  • SIOs:
    • Develop innovative digital communication strategies. Draw on knowledge of emerging trends in digital services and social media and apply this knowledge when developing content and channels.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Lead on the use of digital and social media to engage and involve citizens, staff and all other partners to encourage community participation.

Internal communications

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Demonstrate a practical understanding of organisational functions, roles and communication requirements, to enable the design of contextualised and tailored content for internal audiences.
  • SIOs:
    • Draw on audience insight to develop innovative internal communication strategies, selecting the most appropriate channel mix and ensuring content is both topical and timely.
    • Establish two-way and face-to-face communication channels where possible to build employee engagement. Reinforcethesechannelsduring organisational change.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Demonstrate a robust knowledge of internal communication best practice. Draw on this expertise to provide recommendations to organisational/business leaders on communicating the business/change agenda.
    • Ensure the organisational infrastructure (tools, channels and processes) is in place to deliver high-quality and creative internal communication.

Competency 3: implementation

Develop and implement effective communication strategies and plans. Work with stakeholders and partners to deliver communication.

Relevant competencies when implementing communication strategies

AIOs/IOs

  • Engaging People
    • Leading and Communicating
      • Write clearly in plain, simple language and check work for spelling and grammar, learning from previous inaccuracies.
      • Express ideas effectively, both orally and in writing, and with sensitivity and respect for others.
  • Delivering Results
    • Achieving Commercial Outcomes
      • Check suppliers and partners are providing relevant and timely data to monitor contracts.
      • Delivering Value for Money Monitorresources against plans and budget, identify and flag up variances.
  • Delivering Results
    • Managing a Quality Service
      • Promote adherence to relevant policies, procedures, regulations and legislation, including equality and diversity and health and safety.

SIOs

  • Engaging People
    • Leading and Communicating
      • Communicate in a succinct and engaging manner and stand ground when needed.
      • Communicate using appropriate styles, methods and timing, including digital channels, to maximise understanding and impact.
    • Collaborating and Partnering
      • Establish relationships with a range of stakeholders to support delivery of business outcomes.
  • Delivering Results
    • Achieving Commercial Outcomes
      • Work with commercial experts in engaging effectively and intelligently with delivery partners in order to define and/or improve service delivery.
    • Delivering Value for Money
      • Recommendations to achieve value for money and efficiency.
    • Managing a Quality Service
      • Make effective use of project management skills and techniques to deliver outcomes, including identifying risks and mitigating actions.

Grade 7/6s

  • Engaging People
    • Leading and Communicating
      • Clarify strategies and plans, giving a clear sense of direction and purpose for self and team.
      • Confidently engage with stakeholders and colleagues at all levels to generate commitment to goals.
  • Delivering Results
    • Achieving Commercial Outcomes
      • Work effectively with different organisations such as private sector and voluntary groups (in tandem with commercial experts) to commission and source solutions to achieve organisational and policy goals.
    • Delivering Results
      • Delivering Value for Money
        • Achieve the best return on investment and deliver more for less on specifc budgets by managing resources and maximising use of assets.
        • Balance policy aspiration and delivery, outline risk and benefits of different options to achieve value for money ensuring all submissions contain appropriate financial information.

Core communication skills and knowledge applicable to all communicators

AIOs/IOs

  • Adhere to all relevant policies, legislation and guidance for delivery of communication (including for example propriety, diversity, language, social media, and corporate branding guidelines and requirements).
  • Demonstrate good written and oral communication skills. Write clearly, concisely and accurately.
  • Select appropriate visuals to improve the impact of communication (for example, photography and infographics).
  • Monitor plans and provide status updates to ensure communication plans are delivered on time and to budget.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of value for money in communication delivery. Ensure that suppliers are delivering quality communication products.

SIOs

  • Adhere to all aspects of approved Efficiency and Reform Group (ERG) submissions.
  • Gather evidence to assess impact and effectiveness throughout the delivery of communication.
  • Demonstrate strong written communication skills.
  • Provide advice and guidance to colleagues on writing clearly for target audiences.
  • Ensurecommunicationproducts are cost-effective and delivered to a high quality, representing value for money. Ensure supplier relationships are cost-effective.

Grade 7/6s

  • Take overall responsibility for developing and implementing communication/media strategies and campaigns from the strategic planning stage onwards.
  • Develop strong relationships with ministers, policy colleagues and key stakeholders. Build influential networks to enable communication teams to deliver quality solutions.
  • Demonstrate excellent written communication skills and set standards for communication.
  • Provide overall editorial control to ensure appropriate content, messaging, tone and consistency in all communication.
  • Continuously review and provide quality assurance for communication and media campaigns.Ensure communication strategies represent value for money. Identify and act on opportunities for improvements to current activity

Communication disciplines

Campaigns and marketing

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Manage the logistics and support delivery of marketing implementation.
  • SIOs:
    • Manage the delivery of campaign plans, including deplying resources and integrating solutions.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • successfully direct and oversee implementation of high-value, multi-audience campaigns to meet organisation objectives.

Press and media

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Develop and nurture excellent relationships with journalists and contacts (eg bloggers) in all forms of media, to improve story placement and check progress.
    • Demonstrate techniques and strategies for handling journalists. Respond quickly to media requests and agree points of escalation.
    • Draftqualitypressreleases, press packs, and lines to take and issue within agreed protocols.
  • SIOs:
    • Handle high-profile and sensitive media issues. Adhere to confidentiality and provide a clear, trusted brief to media and other partners.
    • Demonstrate strong editing skills to ensure quality and timely press releases, rebuttals and lines to take in response to developing stories.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Display clear, authoritative and sensitive spokespersonship.
    • Actively oversee high-profile, sensitive, high-risk subjects and manage contacts with lead journalists.
    • Lead the press planning and advice in crisis scenarios and manage the press team in developing the crisis response strategy.

Digital

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Demonstrate a good understanding of accessibility and usability issues.Create content that meets accessibility requirements.
    • Support the delivery of online events including podcasts, live chats, broadcasts, blogs and tweets.
  • SIOs:
    • Manage online events including podcast, live chats, broadcasts, blogs and tweets.
    • Edit, revise and optimise copy and content according to latest search engine optimisation best practice, for use/re-use in digital channels.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Be an advocate for digital engagement and social media, and share expertise to build capability across communication teams and the wider Department.
    • Lead the development and implementation of digital content management strategy.

Internal communications

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Support the delivery of internal communication content and staff events, ensuring products are delivered to a high quality.
    • Align internal communication to keychange programme delivery milestones.
  • SIOs:
    • Manage and co-ordinate all activity in internal communication plans, including deploying resources and managing risks.
    • Provide support and clarification to managers to ensure they are confident in delivering key messages and to strengthen the internal communication cascade.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Provide support and guidance to departmental and Directorate leadership in the delivery of internal communication. Coach leaders on their communication style and on how to engage and build dialogue with staff.
    • Ensure consistency of voice and message across all internal channels.
    • Lead internal communication planning and provide timely advice to ministers and leaders in response to crisis scenarios.

Competency 4: Impact

Assess the impact and effectiveness of communication. Review achievement of objectives. Identify lessons learnt and share feedback.

Relevant competencies when assessing the impact of communication strategies

AIOs/IOs

  • Delivering Results
    • Managing a Quality Service
    • Identify common problems or weaknesses in policy or procedures that affect service and escalate these.

SIOs

  • Delivering Results
    • Managing a Quality Service
      • Develop proposals to improve the quality of service with involvement from a diverse range of staff, stakeholders or delivery partners.

Grade 7/6s

  • Engaging People
    • Building Capability forAll
      • Ensure that individual and organisational learning and talent development opportunities are fully exploited in order to enhance organisational capability.
      • Identifycapabilityrequirements needed to deliver future team objectives and manage team resources to meet these needs.
  • Delivering Results
    • Managing a Quality Service
      • Establish how the business area compares to customer service expectations and industry best practice and identify necessary improvements in plans.

Core communication skills and knowledge applicable to all communicators

AIOs/IOs

  • Support the design and delivery of techniques to assessthe
  • effectiveness and impact of communication.

SIOs

  • Develop and deliver the overall evaluation approach for communication, using relevant tools and guidance (such as the GCS guidance ‘Evaluating Government Communication Activity’).
  • Develop appropriate dashboards to support timely, effective evaluation.
  • Analyse evidence to assess effectiveness of communication and identify lessons learned.

Grade 7/6s

  • Lead on identifying evaluation criteria.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of communication against objectives. Review lessons learnt and compare with industry best practice to identify areas for improvement for future communication strategies.
  • Report on evaluation of communication strategies to ministers and policy teams.
  • Make recommendations and share learning for future communication activity.

Communication disciplines

Campaigns and marketing

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Advise on, monitor, summarise and provide analysis of campaign effectiveness indicators (eg partner opinion).
  • SIOs
    • Manage and deliver the evaluation of all campaign plans, including defining clear metrics that relate to measurable communication and policy/ business outcomes.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Assess the impact of campaigns across a range of measures including output, outtake, outcome and return on investment.
    • Identify recommendations for future campaigns.

Press and media

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Conduct media monitoring to assess reach to target audiences and delivery of key messages.
  • SIOs
    • Analyse media monitoring results to assess the effectiveness of media strategies and inform future proactive and reactive media campaigns.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Evaluate impact to shape direction of future media campaigns and lead on the implementation of best practice across the press office.

Digital

  • AIOs/IOs
    • Advise on, monitor, summarise and provide analysis of effectiveness indicators for digital communication.
  • SIOs
    • Assesstheeffectivenessof digital communication. Use the results of user feedback, tests/pilots and effectiveness indicators to improve digital communication and the user experience.
  • Grade 7/6s
    • Ensure effective monitoring of, listening to and action on feedback from users, clients and partners of digital products and services. Ensure digitaland social media expertise and skills are shared across the Communications team and wider Department to build organisational capability.