Delivering Excellence in Partnership Marketing

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points: 2

The partnership marketing guide is designed to encourage Government Communication Service (GCS) professionals to further work with external partners to increase the reach and impact of their campaigns.

Delivering Excellence in Partnership Marketing

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Partnership marketing represents a significant opportunity for government communications.

As well as being a cost-effective way to reach audiences, it also has great potential to increase the impact of your communications and drive behaviour change.

This guide will help GCS members to incorporate partnership marketing into the development of their campaigns.



Alex Aiken, Executive Director of Government Communications

As members of the Government Communications Service (GCS) we look to deliver audience focused communication. One of the ways we do this is by looking at communications channels and using the most appropriate channel to reach our audience. Working with external partners who already interact with our key audiences allows government departments to increase the reach and impact of their campaigns. When done well partnership marketing has the power to have a transformational impact on government campaigns. As a result partners are playing an increasingly important role in the communications mix. By working with partners in the public, private and third-party sectors we are able to ensure both cost-efficient and effective campaigns.

Some of our most high profile campaigns have benefited significantly from working alongside trusted partners. The innovative ways in which relationships have been forged and activated across government have come to be recognised as setting the standard for what working in partnership can achieve.

I therefore urge GCS professionals to consider how they can incorporate partnership marketing into their campaigns. Speak to your colleagues across GCS who have already done this, so you can learn from what they have done and look at new ways of working. This guide acts as a source of support, advice and inspiration. I hope you find it an empowering source of information and something you can use as you set up and develop your campaigns. Alex Aiken, Executive Director of Government Communications


Partnership marketing represents a significant opportunity for government communications. As well as being a cost effective way to reach audiences, it also has great potential to increase the impact of your communications and drive behaviour change.

As such, partnerships have gained an increasingly high profile in recent years across government departments, executive agencies and public bodies. GCS professionals have been responsible for developing world-class partnership campaigns which are having a positive impact on all elements of British society, from increasing civic participation to improving health and wellbeing.

This guide has been developed to demonstrate what is possible through partnerships. By showcasing what can be achieved and sharing best practice it aims to inspire and equip you to plan and implement successful partnership activity.

If you keep in mind the Civil Service Code when managing your partnerships, especially with regards to openness and integrity, this will support you in delivering successful partnership marketing activity.

GCS partnership marketing vision:

GCS advocates collaboration with business, civil society and the wider public sector to support the government’s priorities. We champion innovative ways of working in partnership to ensure the greatest possible value and impact for government communications.

What is partnership marketing?

GCS defines partnership marketing as ‘the development and delivery of government messages via partnerships with private sector organistions, the public sector and civil society, utilising one or more elements of the partner’s marketing communication channels’.

As any successful partnership stems from common objectives, a desire to collaborate and mutually beneficial outcomes, they will predominately be negotiated on an in-kind basis. As such they do not usually involve the payment of any fee to or from the partner for their organisation and/or brand to be associated with the campaign. It is also expected that partners will provide access to their marketing channels free of charge.

While there are no upfront ‘fees’ associated with involvement in the campaign some organisations, particularly commercial partners, may provide financial support to deliver activity which delivers against shared aims.

This investment may take the form of media spend, incentivising action, a contribution towards a product or service or the creation and/or funding of events.

Types of partnership

Various types of partnership activities are undertaken by government as listed below. The partnership approach taken will largely be dependent on your objectives, with partnership marketing predominately focused on either driving awareness and/or behaviour change. The roles partners can play within these types of partnership are outlined in section 4 of this document, but broadly speaking more tactical support will raise awareness and strategic partnerships will concentrate on driving sustained behaviour change.

Partnership marking

Raising awareness

Amplifying government messages through one or more of partners’ marketing and communications channels (online and offline).

Supporting behaviour change

Providing and signposting solutions that motivate, support and sustain behaviour change.

Business partnerships

Business/policy partnerships

Government defines the policy framework, sets basic standards and facilitates partner involvement. Partners create and deliver initiatives/services that provide solutions.

Strategic engagement

Building alliances with third parties to listen effectively, share content and communicate policy messages with the aim of enhancing government understand, support and reputation.


A commercial agreement by which a sponsor contractually provides financing in order to establish an association between the sponsor’s organisation, brand or products and a sponsorship property (e.g. a government campaign) in return for the rights to promote this association.

As the above highlights, business/policy partnership activities should be seen as separate from partnership marketing. Please see the Business Partnerships Team pages on the GCS website for further illustration of how they engage and work with partners.

Differentiating between a partnership and a sponsorship

Partnerships are negotiated on an in-kind basis. Partners are not required to pay a fee to be associated with a campaign.

Sponsorships are a contractual arrangement where an organisation will pay for the rights to be associated with an activity.

Types of partner

Successful partnerships can be forged across all areas of society. Depending on your campaign objectives, campaign budget and available resource you may want to concentrate on a specific type of partner or forge relationships with a number of different types of organisation.

Partnership categories

  • multinationals
  • large national companies
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • trade bodies
Civil society
  • charities
  • faith groups
  • volunteer organisations
  • social enterprise
  • non governmental organisations
  • housing associations
Public sector
  • local authorities
  • police
  • fire and rescue
  • other government departments
  • public services and arm’s length bodies (ALBs)

Different partner types will be able to provide access to an audience on a national and/or more localised level. They will also be able to deliver access to different audiences. For example, civil society is often best placed to reach vulnerable, disengaged or hard-to-reach audiences.

Where you are looking to engage on a local level you should also consider if the GCS local team can assist (see section 5 for more detail).

Differentiating between partners and stakeholders

A stakeholder can be defined as an individual, group or organisation who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a policy/campaign.

A process of stakeholder consultation/engagement should be undertaken prior to the launch of large scale campaigns, subject to departmental policy. It is worth noting that by association with the campaign partners will be stakeholders, but not all stakeholders will be partners.

It’s important to remember that partnership marketing is a distinct discipline from stakeholder engagement.

The benefits of partnership marketing

Working with partners is a highly cost effective way to increase the reach and impact of our communications. This section highlights the key benefits of working in partnership for both parties.

The benefits for government

  1. Making campaign budgets go further
    • Access to partners’ communication channels/member base extends the reach, frequency and longevity of campaign messages
    • Potential to secure match funding for campaign activity
    • Potential to leverage high value partner assets and programmes e.g. celebrity endorsements and sponsorship properties
  2. Having a greater impact with our audiences
    • Ability to reach and influence the behaviour of unresponsive, unmotivated and unaware audiences – those who can be difficult to engage through paid media
    • Driving engagement with official government messaging in a different tone of voice and/or context
    • Accessing unique, ‘money can’t buy’ opportunities typically unavailable through paid media
  3. Supporting behaviour change
    • Ability to influence positive choices at or closer to the point of decision by incentivising and motivating audiences to act
    • Delivery of messages through inspiring and/or trusted partners leverages the power of the messenger to prompt action
  4. Delivering our activities at greater scale
    • Drive greater visibility and recognition of government campaigns/brands
    • Galvanizing a coalition of partners to create social movements for change that are government-instigated but not government-owned
  5. Tapping into insight and expertise
    • Access to existing partner research, insight and data (where permitted by data protection laws)
    • Stimulate insight generation and content which benefits the wider campaign

The benefits for partners

  1. Corporate citizenship
    • Proof point for CSR programmes/brand purpose – demonstrating a commitment to being part of a solution
    • Provides an opportunity to give back to local and wider communities
  2. Enhanced reputation
    • Prestige of an association with a government initiative with internal and external audiences
    • Provision of credibility in an area where otherwise they may not have a licence to act
    • Drive reappraisal of company products and services
  3. Improving the audience experience
    • Access to high profile government brands, campaigns and valued content
    • Enhancing their offer/adding value to their audiences
  4. Meet commercial interests
    • Creation of the right environment to drive commercial success
    • Improved brand awareness and affinity
    • Drive exposure and engagement with new audience groups
  5. Networking
    • Networking and knowledge sharing opportunities with organisations with aligned interests
    • Opportunity for individuals to raise their profile with internal and external stakeholders

Planning and delivering partnership campaigns

Campaign planning

Partner activity can be appropriate for high-profile campaigns, activity with limited budgets and everything in between. A campaign could be centred around strategic partnership or partners may be an element of an integrated campaign.

As with all campaign planning, the OASIS (Objectives, Audience insight, Strategy/idea, Implementation, Scoring/evaluation) framework should be used to ensure your campaign is effective, efficient and evaluated. OASIS is a series of steps that can bring order and clarity to planning campaigns.

You should be considering the role for partnerships in the strategy/idea phase to understand if a strategic partnership approach will help meet your objectives based on the audience insight. Additionally, during the implementation phase you can consider the role for partnerships alongside other communication channels, again drawing on audience insight to inform partner choice and to establish their role (please refer to the following step-by-step partnership marketing process).

More detailed information on using the OASIS framework is available in the OASIS Campaigns Guide.

Step-by-step partnership marketing

Once partnership marketing has been identified as a requirement, there are 8 steps to identify, engage and manage partners.

  1. Mapping exercise: Identify the relevant moments (i.e. the points in people’s lives) where you could communicate with the audience/s about the issue. This should be completed for each audience.
  2. Establish categories and brands: Against these moments outline the relevant categories (e.g. transport, housing, shopping) and then organisations and brands to develop a longlist of potential partners.
  3. Shortlisting: Assess the organisations and brands on the longlist. As a minimum this should be done against reach, relevance and impact to the target audience. Depending on the campaign subject and/ or audience you may wish to use additional criteria, for example level of audience trust or stretch across more than one issue or audience.
  4. Partner role: Determine the role for the partners – typical potential partner roles are illustrated below.
  5. Review the existing relationships: Review the shortlist of brands against any existing and previous partners for your department (engaging with stakeholder team if appropriate) and where necessary across government by consulting the Cabinet Office Business Partnerships team.
  6. Risk register: It’s vital that we only work with partners that can uphold a good reputation. Define and populate a risk register to capture issues that exist now or in the past and highlight where the partner could pose a risk and scenario plan accordingly.
  7. Recruit and negotiate: Commence recruitment of partners and negotiate activity.
  8. Activate and manage: Activate and manage partners, planning ongoing activity where feasible. N.b. management extends out of the activation period and relationships should be maintained to secure future support (see section 5: ongoing relationship management) and secure data for evaluation purposes (see section 6: measurement and evaluation).

Partner roles

There are 3 typical roles partners can play (individual partners can play one or more of these roles):


Extending reach and visibility of messages. E.g.

  • distribution of printed campaign materials
  • inclusion of key messages through partner-owned digital channels
  • cascading messages through internal comms channels


Providing a reason and a reminder for audiences to take action. E.g.

  • driving visibility close to the point of decision making through co-created point of sale
  • provision of incentives or rewards for action taken
  • use of their brand and/or assets

Solution provider

Providing an immediate way for audiences to change their behaviour


  • leveraging existing partner goods or services to support behaviour change
  • creation of bespoke initiatives to meet audience needs
  • use of their brand and/or assets

Typically where the partnership marketing ambition is to extend visibility your partners will fulfill a tactical signposting role. Where you are looking to drive behaviour change, the motivating and solution provider roles will be key.


As a general rule, the more time and resource that can be committed to developing and managing partnerships will result in stronger and more effective relationships being forged.

Many organisations, particularly businesses, will look to plan their marketing activity 6 to 9 months in advance and this should be factored into your lead times. Where strategic partners are sought, the required timeframe should take into account that negotiations can take up to 12 months. It is therefore worth considering a ‘test and learn’ approach with these partners, launching the partnership with a pilot activity (this was the approach successfully taken by PHE in developing their relationship with Disney).

A minimum of 12 weeks is therefore recommended for the development and delivery of a small scale tactical partnerships campaign as best practice. The below chart outlines the key milestones against this timeframe.

Mapping exerciseX
Establish categories and brandsX
Establish partner rolesX
Review existing relationshipsX
Complete and update risk
Review on ongoing basisX
Recruit and negotiateXXXX
Activate and manageXXX
Chart mapping key milestones against a timeframe.

While it may be possible for campaigns to be developed within shorter lead times (e.g. signposting activity) it is not recommended as this is likely to restrict the number of partners and the type and level of activity secured.

If a specialist agency is required to deliver a partnerships campaign on your behalf it is recommended the agency is appointed at least 6 months prior to the proposed live date, with longer lead times for strategic partnerships as highlighted above.

Timing considerations


Due to the nature of marketing partnerships, there’s often a requirement to share campaign details during an embargo period to secure and develop supporting activity. For any external engagement prior to launch, partners should be provided with the appropriate level of information and be made aware of the embargo. You should also ensure any documents shared externally are marked as ‘Confidential. Not for onward circulation’.

Restricted periods

Often restricted periods will coincide with partner negotiation or activation phases. Negotiations may continue with any partners who have previously been engaged but any new approaches will need to be placed on hold until the end of the restricted period.

Investment and resource to support partnership marketing

Resource requirements

Before embarking on any partnership marketing campaigns, the level of resource that can be committed to the activity should be considered upfront and factored into your approach.

Securing and activating support from multiple partners can be time and resource intensive, particularly where you are looking to develop a medium to long-term relationship. Depending on the campaign objectives it can be preferable to have a smaller number of partners with a deeper level of support, particularly where behaviour change is required.

Successful partnership marketing requires a unique skillset – a blend of relationship management, commercial, negotiation, integrated marketing and co-creation skills. You may have the resource and expertise in your team already or have colleagues who are willing to upskill and take on this stream of work. If you do not have the expertise or resource in house you may wish to consider commissioning a specialist partnership agency through the GCS communication framework to support the development and implementation of your campaign.

Whether you run your partnership marketing in house or through an agency, for partnership marketing to be a success you also need to ensure you are working closely with your own media, campaigns and strategic engagement teams. This should make sure you are aligned and making the most out of any partnership activity.

Budget requirements

While partnership marketing focuses on brokering the in-kind use of owned, earned and paid channels in the partner environment, meaning they are essentially ‘free’ at the point of activation, there are costs associated with planning and delivering successful activity.

Partnership marketing needs to be planned as part of the integrated channel mix, with the budget being allocated accordingly. Analysis conducted on successful campaigns has indicated that the optimum weight of partnerships spend is 15 to 20% of the media budget which can be used as a rule of thumb for budget setting.1 It is possible to undertake partnership marketing without a budget, however, as a rule, you will find it more effective if you are able to put some money behind partnership work. For example, partners may incur costs through supporting your work, for example developing collateral or amending their assets.

This provision will ensure funding is available for strategy development, creation of partner assets/toolkits, partner management and evaluation as required.

Seed fund

It is beneficial to set aside a budget for some partnership activations, particularly when looking to secure partners from civil society. This seed fund can cover the production of printed assets, collation costs etc. where support is key and otherwise unlikely if costs will be incurred by the partner. The size of the seed fund can range from hundreds to thousands of pounds depending on the scale and ambition of your activation. A civil society group may be very happy to support your work but may not have the budget and may need some help with this.

Budget approvals and clearance

As with any communications spend you need to follow your team’s usual approval process. For large campaigns with a budget over £100,000 this will include ministerial sign off and approval from the central GCS team in the Cabinet Office. You should ensure that your media and campaigns team are content with your approach and you have built in time for the necessary sign-off procedures.

Ensuring a value exchange

As the term suggests, partnerships are two-way relationships and should represent tangible value to both the government and the partner organisation. In order for partners to realise the benefits identified earlier, opportunities for partners to associate themselves with our activities should be provided in return for their support.

While the specific value exchange should meet the needs of specific partner groups/individual partner organisations, a menu of suggested options is presented below.

Partner pages

A page can be dedicated to partners on the campaign or department website. Typically this would consist of the partner logo and potentially a description of their commitments/supporting activity and relevant products and services.

This has been done in the past by PHE, NHSBT and the GREAT campaign to good effect.


Name checks of supporting partners, summary of key partner activity and partner quotes can be featured in campaign press releases.

Where a partner is issuing their own release (subject to approval) you can consider offering quotes for inclusion. This may be from the campaign lead, marketing director or, where relevant, a ministerial quote (see point 7).

In the case of strategic partnerships a joint release could be considered.

You can also consider any broader opportunities for partner involvement in PR activities where relevant and appropriate.


Inclusion of relevant partner content in campaign emails sent to database.

Please note, content needs to be appropriate to the campaign and should not be used to promote products or services unless they directly support the desired response and/or behaviour change (e.g. nicotine replacement therapies, healthier food and drink, condoms, smoke alarms, etc.)

This can be a reciprocal arrangement with engaging campaign content supplied for partners to use in their eCRM.

Social platforms

Driving visibility of partner support and activity via department and/or campaign social platforms.

Logo usage

Agreement for partners to use relevant campaign logos on their communications to highlight support of the campaign. Where this is offered it is best practice to issue brand guidelines to partners and materials are approved to ensure logos are being used appropriately. You may also wish to consider a ‘proud to support ’ version of a logo to be used by partners as a badging device. This can be more flexible in its use.

Research and insight

Access to expert government research and insight around specific audiences and/or issues. The insight packs developed by Sport England provide a good example of how this can be packaged for partners. GCS is also developing life stage marketing packs which give examples of audiences and their interests at key stages in their lives.


This may consist of attendance at relevant campaign events/launches or an approved quote supplied for use in partners’ press releases and information materials relevant to the campaign.

Please note ministerial access should not be guaranteed or included in any partner agreements and any attendance must be appropriate and fit with ministerial priorities.

Data requests

Partners may request access to audience data which is a highly sensitive issue. Data protection requirements must be met at all times but there may be the potential to offer an ‘opt in’ for strategic partners. This should only be offered on a case-by-case basis after consultation with senior management and ministerial sign-off.

As highlighted in section 3, government departments can also ask partners for access to their data, which can provide new contacts or information that government would not otherwise have. Again you need to be careful that this complies with data protection regulations.

Governance considerations

Having a robust governance process in place will protect the integrity of your partnership marketing activity, ensuring it can stand up to any parliamentary, media or public scrutiny.

Key principles are outlined here, along with best-practice methods, but a tailored framework meeting the specific needs of your department or organisation should be established. This can be achieved in consultation with relevant internal stakeholders, such as senior management, policy and legal teams.

Objectivity and fairness

You should be able to demonstrate that all partnership activity is being conducted in a fair and transparent manner, ensuring any potential conflicts of interest are avoided and that partners are not given (or could be perceived as being given) any preferential treatment.

Opportunity to participate

The use of an open invitation to participate is the easiest way to ensure relevant organisations have a fair opportunity for involvement in a campaign. This ‘open invite’ is a paragraph placed on a campaign/department web page which highlights the opportunity for involvement in a campaign and outlines the partner criteria for participation. Interested parties are encouraged to make contact to express their interest in participating.


Exclusivity is a sensitive area as it potentially limits the opportunities for broader partner participation in a campaign. As such any exclusivity should only be granted after careful consideration and in specific situations where the benefits significantly outweigh any limitations. Government activities very rarely offer a partnership on an exclusive basis, but do try to be sensitive when working with competing partners. It is usually preferable to offer multiple sector partners the opportunity to activate the campaign in a bespoke manner to differentiate between their support. Depending on the nature of your campaign you may also wish to consider alternating partner support so they effectively ‘take it in turns’ for high profile activities.

It is also best practice to keep partners informed regarding which other organisations have also made commitments to support your campaign.

Clarity of expectation

All parties should have a clear understanding of the individual and collective responsibilities associated with participation in a government campaign.

Written partnership agreements

Formal contracts, letters of agreement or a memorandum of understanding (MOU) are often only required where a partnership includes a financial element or there is a particular sensitivity. However, it is advisable to consult senior management and/or your legal team regarding the required level of written agreement for your partnership activity. Please see annex A for a sample MOU template.


Partner and brand guidelines

There is great value in issuing a document outlining how organisations can partner with a specific campaign to help achieve behaviour change goals. The document can also include brand and creative guidelines to ensure any co-created or co-branded activity developed by partners uses campaign assets (for example logos and imagery) correctly. The Change4Life guidelines issued by PHE are a good example of a comprehensive document.

For low-cost budget campaigns, where partners are predominately fulfilling a signposting role, any toolkits providing organisations with a suite of assets for use in their channels should include clear guidelines to support and govern their use.

Specialist guidelines

Depending on the campaign area there may be a requirement to develop specialist guidelines outlining to partners any minimum criteria which must be met to comply with a specific policy position. For example, the Change4Life campaign uses retail guidelines to ensure any food and drinks products associated with the campaign comply with nutritional policy recommendations.

Risk management

As highlighted previously, compiling and maintaining a risk register for any campaign which includes partnership marketing is the first step toward mitigating against risks.


The risk register should also be used as the basis to incorporate responses concerning partners and their supporting activity within the Q&A documents developed to support the launch of campaigns.

Approvals of activity

All activities undertaken by partners – or indeed their agencies in delivering the partnership – are ultimately the responsibility of the department. A clear approvals process should be implemented, covering 3 key stages of partner negotiations and activation to ensure any partners and supporting activity are aligned with the campaign aim and messages. This process is not only central to the integrity of your campaign but is also vital to protect the reputation of government.

  1. Proposed partner shortlist
  2. Proposed partner activity
  3. Partner materials

For stages 2 and 3 indicative response timescales should be established and communicated to partners.

When considering your approach to risk management, you can also consult the Business Partnerships team in the Cabinet Office, who manage relationships with many businesses. They will be able to advise you in terms of appropriateness and will be able to make recommendations to you.

Summary of key governance elements

  • Objectivity and fairness
  • Clarity of expectation
  • Risk management

Ongoing relationship management

Assets and access

Once campaign participation has been secured, a toolkit of assets will assist partners in implementing their support.

Typical toolkit contents:

  • Campaign briefing pack: to include a campaign overview, suggested timelines of activity and FAQs
  • Communications kit: to include key messages and press releases
  • Suggested web copy: short and long
  • Digital cheat sheet: to include key messages, milestones and social media content (suggested Tweets, Facebook posts and images/infographics)
  • Leaflet: editable artwork for personalisation/physical printing
  • Poster: artwork for personalisation/physical printing

You may want to consider having different versions of the toolkits to tailor the messages and content by partner type, for example the messaging an organisation will use with its employees will differ from how they communicate with their customers.

A central location for partners to gain ease of access of the assets is recommended and it is best practice to have this password protected/restricted access. This could be a free tool such as an online basecamp with logins or a bespoke system. If you are working with an agency partner you may wish to ask them to host access to the campaign assets.

Ongoing partnership programmes

For larger scale partnership programmes you may consider developing a dedicated online resource centre – PHE’s resource centre is a good example of this. A further advantage of this approach is the ability to capture metrics around site usage.

For any digital products Government Digital Service procedures will need to be followed – more information can be found in their service manual.

Maximising partner relationships

There are 3 key recommendations to help you develop mutually-rewarding relationships with your partners. These are relevant for any campaign but particularly important for those with an ambition to develop longer term partnerships.

1. Update and inform

Maintaining dialogue outside of key campaign periods is key to ensuring ongoing, collaborative and productive working relationships with partners. This is particularly important for those partners providing the most significant levels of support for your campaign.

Partner events give partners the opportunity to feed back and input into ongoing activity and hear forthcoming plans. These may take the form of a partner round table or roadshow, or you may wish to consider a reception to gather support or celebrate key milestones and/or progress. Irrespective of the format you choose, events are a great way to keep partners engaged and thank them for their support.

Manage expectations regarding the practicalities of working with government

As there can often be a high level of uncertainty associated with government communications, it’s important to highlight the practicalities of working with government to partners. In particular:
• Changes in government priorities, ministerial reshuffles, policy shifts and elections may result in changes to planned campaigns from changes to launch dates to revision of priorities.
• Where campaigns are not applicable to one or more devolved administrations this should also be highlighted upfront.

While this uncertainty is an inherent element of working in partnership with government, a commitment to keeping partners informed and updated will help to protect and strengthen your relationships.

2. Demonstrate a commitment to the partnership

Where partner meetings are taking place to negotiate support or provide updates, field attendees of at least equal seniority to the partner representatives.

Consider the most appropriate location for meetings. Do you need to travel to them or would they appreciate an invitation to the department?

Where an external agency is appointed to deliver partnership marketing on your behalf, a representative from the department should be in attendance at key meetings to demonstrate that the relationship is valued by government.

3. Help partners to forward plan

Partner planning timeframes are often longer than those of government, so providing a forward calendar will allow them to factor forthcoming campaigns in their plans.

When relevant keep partners informed of any pre-election restricted activity dates and what is and is not appropriate during these periods so that they are aware of what is expected and when activity may need to be curtailed.

Cabinet Office Business Partnerships Team

The Business Partnerships Team (BPT) sits at the centre of UK Government in the GCS Cabinet Office. The team build long-term partnerships between business and government to create positive social change and manage relationships with around 100 of the biggest businesses in the UK.

As an essential part of society, businesses are reliant on, as well as responsible to, the communities in which they are based. BPT promote purpose-led business, encouraging businesses to be a force for good for both the economy and society.

By addressing challenges together with industry, we can pool creativity, knowledge and resources to deliver government policies and priorities.

The team is able to advise on any existing relationships with business and in the long run will be able to inform departments where partners are supporting specific campaigns. Working with the team provides access to a cross-government picture to help you make the most appropriate and effective asks of partners.

GCS Local Campaigns Team

The GCS Local Campaigns Team are regionally based, working to make government’s priority campaigns relevant and compelling to audiences at the local level.

As part of the Number 10 and Cabinet Office communications team, they work closely with both Number 10 and departmental campaigns teams to turn national campaigns into regional and local ones, devising local campaign plans, recruiting local partners and stakeholders, capturing case studies and producing locally relevant content to help bring these campaigns to life.

Their experiences piloting local collaborative activity with local authorities and departments have been summarised in a number of case studies.

Working with local partners is one of the most effective ways of ensuring your campaign cuts through to local audiences. As digital first, no-cost/low-cost campaigners, please consider how the GCS Local Campaigns Team might be able to help you activate your campaign locally.

Measurement and evaluation

Evaluation framework

As with all communications activity, robust evaluation is vital to assess the effectiveness and impact of partnership marketing activity and to determine key learnings for future collaboration.

All partnership activity should be evaluated in line with the standardised GCS Evaluation Framework. Suggested partner metrics are included in the example provided.

It is important to involve partners in the evaluation process and to agree their role upfront in collecting, providing and analysing data. Sharing evaluation findings with partners to demonstrate the impact of their support will also serve to strengthen relationships and help to secure ongoing support.

Example for partner metrics evaluation



  • OASIS key steps
  • partner strategy
  • partner target list (prioritised)
  • partner recruitment against targets set
  • key performance indicators (KPIs) agreed
  • asset development
  • integration with x-agency disciplines
  • co-creation of new ideas


Client approval; creative testing; partner feedback.



  • reach of partners
  • ‘opportunity to see’ of message in partner channels
  • dissemination of co-created materials


Reach date from partners; corroborate externally where possible; evidence of co-created message in situ.



  • sign up/referral to campaign tools
  • awareness and understanding
  • claimed likelihood to take or have taken action
  • social engagements


Inclusion of partner channels in online tracking and end evaluation; surveys with partners in their own channels; social monitoring



  • number of individual behaviour change actions
  • proportions sustained


The results of the activity on the partner brand:

  • brand affinity
  • increase loyalty
Organisational impact


  • the quantifiable impact on the business goals
  • impact on specific issue
  • impact on wider consequences


The quantifiable impact on the partner business goals:

  • increased sales
  • approval ratings
  • donations
  • improved loyalty
  • brand perception

Value of partner support

You may also wish to look to place a monetary value on the level of partner support secured. This can provide a useful metric as one of the output measures of partnership marketing but is not always a straightforward process. The simplest method of achieving this is to ask partners to confirm the level of investment they made on the campaign, ideally not only capturing the hard costs but also the internal time spend on the partnerships.

KPI setting

KPIs should be established for all partnership activity. These can be set at the beginning of the campaign and also on an annual basis for larger, more sophisticated partnership programmes.

At a minimum partner KPIs should cover outputs: for example the type, number and reach of partners supporting the campaign. Depending on the campaign objectives and agreed partner roles it may also be appropriate to include additional metrics against outtakes (e.g. levels of audience engagement, awareness and understanding) and outcomes (e.g. attitude and behaviour change).

Benchmarks from previous campaigns should be used to establish targets. For new campaigns, comparable benchmarks from other partnership activity may be available from GCS colleagues or your specialist partnership agency.

Case studies

Focus on Change4Life: creation of a social movement to tackle childhood obesity

Change4Life was launched in 2009 with an aim to inspire a social movement, through which the Government, the NHS, local authorities, businesses, charities, schools, families and community leaders could all play a part in improving children’s diets and activity levels to tackle obesity.

A strong partnership marketing strategy, requiring the early, active and ongoing involvement of partners has been vital to creating and maintaining this social movement for healthier lives. A sophisticated partnerships programme, across commercial and public sectors, delivers the practical, financial and inspirational support required to incentivise and sustain behaviour change in the busy and challenging world of a Change4Life family.

To date over 200 national organisations have collectively provided millions of pounds of in-kind support, including The Walt Disney Company, Asda, The Co-op Food, Aldi, Danone and Britvic.

Driving innovation in partnership marketing

Public Health England embrace the opportunity to develop new and innovative partnership marketing initiatives to support behaviour change. A relationship with ITV resulted in the first ever all-healthy advertising break, which reached over 8 million people. The ‘We’re In’ press campaign galvanised 4 large supermarkets to time their sugar reduction activity to coincide with the launch of the ‘Sugar Swaps’ campaign. More recently manufacturers of healthier food and drink products funded their presence on Change4Life digital out-of-home advertising to drive awareness of lower sugar products and use of the Be Food Smart App. Beyond advertising platforms increased presence in supermarkets has helped people make healthier choices at the point of purchase from the provision of ‘swapping lists’ to the creation of Change4Life branded chillers promoting healthier breakfasts.

A long term, strategic partnership with Disney has inspired kids to get more active

The strategic partnership forged with Disney represents a step change in the approach and success of Change4Life physical activity campaigns.

By leveraging the emotional connection kids have with Disney characters and stories, Change4Life are able to offer a package of fun, active and engaging games which motivate kids to get more active. Over the last 4 years ‘10-Minute Shake up’ has received significant cash investment and support for the programme from Disney, including character licences, funding of family packs and programming content. In the first year alone the campaign resulted in the nation’s kids being active for an extra 104 million minutes in the summer of 2014. Disney is committed to working with Change4Life in the future and PHE are discussing how 10 Minute Shake Ups can be a year-round solution, not just for summer.

Essential grassroots support

Vital ongoing support continues to be provided by schools and a network of local health champions (public-spirited individuals or professionals) who are committed to combatting obesity in their communities. The focus of relationships with local authorities has moved from distributing campaign materials, to supporting them in the development of their own initiatives under the Change4Life brand.

  • Over 125 local authorities used ‘10 Minute Shake Up’, co-branding over 2,500 summer events and activities across the country
  • Over 70,000 local health champions, including schools, general practices, charities and leisure centres support Change4Life activity each year
  • 30 million leaflets, posters and other Change4Life materials have been distributed for free by the NHS, schools, local authorities and other public sector partners
  • 56% of community venues (e.g. schools, town halls, general practices, leisure centres and pharmacies) display Change4Life materials at no cost

An evolving role for schools

The enthusiastic participation of teachers and schools has been one of the great successes of the Change4Life movement with over 16,500 primary schools receiving dedicated resources each year. Understanding and meeting teachers’ needs by providing easy access to curriculum based, flexible materials via a dedicated website has seen subscription levels by individual teachers double in recent years.

Research highlights the approach taken is highly valued by the teaching community. Change4Life is viewed as a highly trusted, helpful brand which has resulted in strong levels of advocacy.

The evolution of the schools engagement approach is outlined in this except from the 2014 – 2017 Public Health England marketing strategy:

‘Over time, we have moved from thinking of schools as a distribution mechanism for Change4Life materials, to thinking of schools both as a target audience in their own right and as a venue for interventions. This has meant creating more tailored materials that meet the needs of schools as well as our own (for example, weaving Change4Life messages into materials that deliver aspects of the curriculum, rather than expecting schools to run a special Change4Life module)’.

NHS Blood and Transplant: disruptive organ donation messaging on a cultural platform

One of the biggest barriers to signing up as an organ donor amongst young people is that it’s not really talked about in everyday life and therefore isn’t on their mind. NHSBT’s approach to increasing registrations among this audience looked at how being registered as an organ donor could be normalised by increasing visible social proof.

NHSBT sought a popular social platform which offered an appropriate mechanic to hold an organ donation message. The act of ‘finding a match’ on Tinder was identified as the perfect way to serve disruptive messaging to this audience. It allowed NHSBT to raise awareness of a key issue in organ donation, how hard it is to find an organ ‘match’ for those in need on the waiting list, whilst normalising the topic.

Three specially-created celebrity profiles were served to UK Tinder users as they swiped through potential matches. When a user swiped right and ‘matched’ the celebrity, they received a message stating: “if only it were that easy for someone in need of a life-saving organ to find a match…whilst you wait for your next date say ‘yes I donate’”. A web link to the Organ Donation Registration page was also included.

All celebrities provided support for free and the in-kind partnership with Tinder included full funding for the profile builds.

This partnership proved extremely successful. In 2 weeks the low-budget campaign achieved global reach with over 24 million social media impressions. Over 1,000 people signed up to become a donor in the first few hours of the activity with a total 92% uplift in registrations year on year. A high volume of press coverage also drove a significant increase in social conversation, in turn inspiring more sign ups.

Why it worked

Tinder was the perfect partner to reach young people with disruptive messaging. It raised awareness of a key issue in organ donation, whilst starting to normalise the topic.

HMRC: Leveraging trusted partners to drive tax credit renewals

To encourage tax credits customers to renew their claim ahead of the deadline and to drive online applications, HMRC partnered with high profile organisations with direct relationships to their target audiences.

Partners included commercial employers, parenting organisations and housing associations. To encourage engagement, a toolkit to make multi-channel support as easy as possible for partners was created.

The toolkit included background information about the campaign, a timeline of suggested activity, campaign copy, social media posts and FAQs.

Support was secured from 30 partners, with a total of 119 pieces of activity which built and maintained momentum towards the 31st July deadline.

Why it worked

HMRC were able to leverage the trust the partner groups had with communities to reinforce the campaign messages, encourage conversation and drive action.

Premier League: Global reach for grassroots causes

The Premier League is the most-watched football league in the world, broadcast in 212 territories to 643 million homes and a potential TV audience of 4.7 billion people. The moments it produces are unrivalled and the Premier League has had a partnership with GREAT since 2012 through their international work with VisitBritain, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, British Council and Department for International Trade.

Visit Britain

VisitBritain have a non-commercial partnership with the Premier League which is now in its 9th season and focuses on converting football fans into visitors to Britain. Research highlights the mass international appeal of Premier League football and its increasingly valuable role as a global draw for visitors to Britain.

• The research shows that 800,000 international visitors came to Britain in 2014 to watch a football match, spending a total of £684 million.
• Norway, Sweden and the US are amongst the top 5 markets for football visitors to Britain.
• 2 out of 5 visitors to Britain watch live sport during their trip and 73% choose live football.

VisitBritain positions watching a Premier League game live in Britain as an #OMGB (Oh My Great Britain) moment supporting their brand campaign promoting Britain as the home of amazing moments.

Recent examples of activity include:

• bringing three top US influencers to Britain generating coverage on football regions such as the North West, North East and Wales with global PR and influencer content reaching over 132 million people last year
• partnering with official broadcasters in China and Norway
• giving away a ‘money can’t buy’ football trip to Britain for international fans

This season we will be running a contest to find the biggest Premier League fan in US, China and Norway and would welcome the chance to work directly with the clubs to support this activity or explore opportunities to work together.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The Premier League works continually with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office during inbound delegation visits from overseas football leagues or associations, as well as internationally around major events such as its Premier League Live fan parks and Asia Trophy tournaments.

British Council through Premier Skills

British Council and the Premier League run a programme called Premier Skills, a partnership that uses football to develop a brighter future for young people around the world. Its aim is to integrate some of the most vulnerable in society in to local communities and to develop their skills for employability, as well as raising self esteem.

• Under Premier Skills, Premier League club coaches provide face-to-face training for grassroots coaches and referees, giving them the skills and support to develop their own community football projects. Teachers and learners of English are provided with a range of football-based learning materials, accessed through face-to-face training and digitally, including a dedicated website
• Since Premier Skills began in 2007, 7,600 coaches and referees have been trained in 29 countries, who in turn have reached 1.2 million young people. The programme will continue up until 2019.
• Premier Skills has just recently extended for a further 3 years, taking the programme up to 2019. Initial activity has already begun under this latest phase, with courses recently delivered in China and India.

Contacts and further information


Written on behalf of the Cabinet Office. The author wishes to thank all those consulted in the development of this document.

Partnerships glossary

Assets – marketing materials which enable partners to support marketing campaigns and/or run their own activity. Also known as resources.

Channel – the communication channels available to deliver your message to your end audience. Often categorised as either ‘paid’, ‘owned’ or ‘earned’.

Civil society – the public space between the state, the market and the ordinary household. Civil society includes charities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), religious groups, campaigning organisations, international bodies, voluntary organisations and community groups.

Co-creation – collaboration process with individual or multiple partners to develop assets or initiatives to meet shared objectives.

CRM – customer relationship management. Any (personalised) communication from an organisation directed to members of their database. Also known as database marketing.

CSR – corporate social responsibility. A business commitment to practices and initiatives that either benefit/reduce negative impacts on society.

Earned – the publicity gained through means other than paid-for advertising or own channel.

eCRM – electronic customer relationship management. Any (personalised) digital communication from an organisation directed to members of their database – frequently used to refer to email newsletters.

Influencer – delivery of messages via a key individual who have influence among specific target audiences. Predominately associated with bloggers and vloggers.

In-kind support – activity delivered and access to marketing channels provided without charge by the partner.

Impact – the quantifiable effect of partnership activity on the audience.

Media partnership – a paid-for opportunity where an organisation and a media owner collaborate to generate bespoke content which is distributed by the media owner.

NGO – Non Governmental Organisation. A not-forprofit, voluntary citizens group, which is organised on a local, national or international level to address issues in support of the public good.

Opt-in – where personal data cannot be shared with a third party for marketing purposes unless an individual has given permission. An opt-in is considered best practice.

Opt-out – where permission to share personal data with a third party for marketing purposes is assumed unless an individual requests otherwise. An opt-in is considered best practice.

Owned – owned media refers to channels that a partner has complete control over such as their website, blogs, email newsletters, social media and internal communications.

Paid – covers all paid media, including TV and radio advertising, display, programmatic, search, media partnerships and sponsorship.

Partnership – an arrangement where two or more individual parties cooperate to advance their mutual interests.

Partnership marketing – the development and delivery of government messages via partnerships with private and public sector organisations utilising one or more elements of the partner’s marketing communication channels.

Partner universe – a list of potential partner organisations who are able to reach a defined audience before prioritisation has taken place. As per long list.

Partner long list – a list of potential partner organisations who are able to reach a defined audience before prioritisation has taken place. As per partner universe.

Partner shortlist – a prioritised list of partner organisations to be approached for campaign support.

Reach – the number of people reached by partner activity.

Relevance – how relevant it is for a brand or organisation to be talking about a specific issue.

Resources – marketing materials which enable partners to support marketing campaigns and/or run their own activity. Also known as assets.

Risk assessment – a process of reviewing the current and potential risks of association with a specific organisation. The identified risks should be collated in a risk register.

Risk register – a document capturing issues that exist now, in the past and highlight where a partner could pose a risk in the future. The document should also outline mitigation measures.

Sponsorship – a contractual arrangement where an organisation will pay for the rights (exclusive or nonexclusive) to be associated with an activity. This may be financially or through the provision of products or services.

Stakeholder – an individual, group or organisation who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a campaign and/or policy.

Trust – the level of trust a category/individual organisation has with a defined audience.

Toolkit – a set of campaign assets/resources provided to partners to facilitate their support.

Touchpoints – any place a consumer can interact with an organisation and be exposed to a message.

Value exchange – ensuring that each side is content with what they are receiving from the relationship relative to what they are giving.

Marketing Annex A: Sample Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

The below MOU has been successfully used by government to manage partner relationships. You may want to use the below as a template for any MOU’s you wish to draw up.

This is not a legally binding document, and instead sets out how both parties see the partnership as working and manages what one expects of the other. However, it is recommended you get your legal team to take a look at your MOU to ensure this is in line with your department policy. Some partnerships will require a more detailed legal document, especially if partner brand assets are involved. It is best to discuss upfront with a partner the legal side of the relationship, most partners will be happy with an MOU but some will ask for something more legally binding.

Occasionally organisations or businesses will not be happy to sign an MOU, should this be the case it best to discuss with them their reservations (sometimes this is a policy in large companies that span multiple countries rather than an issue with the MOU) and then it is for you to decide if you are happy to take the risk. One alternative can be an email between yourself and the company’s partnership manager that outlines the spirit of working and collaboration. However, by using an MOU this clearly states the purpose of the partnership and how this is managed which prevents any surprises down the line.

Sample MOU

Campaign name Partnership Memorandum


Secretary of State for XXXX/Chief Executive for ALB acting on behalf of department/ALB name


Partner name


Here you should summarise briefly the role of your department or ALB

Follow this with a sentence that explains the policy aim that has resulted in your campaign.

Expand to state how the campaign aims to meet the policy and why you want to work with partners to do this.

State specifically why you want to partner with the organisation/business. This can often be taken from their website and states the aims or goals of the organisation/business.


Expand on the nature of your campaign so the partner can fully understand what it is looking to achieve. Make sure this includes a behaviour change element and how you plan to deliver this.

This partnership memorandum seeks to encapsulate the spirit of collaborative working and capture the commitments both partners will make across the spectrum of programme activities, including: PR/comms, events, offers/promotions, delivery of advice and support.

Department/ALB commitments:

  • produce and supply a partner toolkit including campaign branding and advice on its use, plus PR and social content for use across name of partner own channels, subject to a licence agreement to use the branding
  • where appropriate, deliver namechecks for name of partner HMG PR and provide spokesperson opportunities with media.
  • support name of partner PR activity about partnering on campaign name, across our channels.
  • share our events schedule with name of partner, offering opportunity to support and participate where appropriate.
  • share appropriate market research and insights (subject to any confidentiality issues or intellectual property rights). 28 Delivering Excellence in Partnership Marketing
  • Offer relevant opportunities to partners, as appropriate
  • where possible, work together with name of partner appointed people to develop and deliver agreed activities in key areas, such as PR and market communications, social media, events for businesses and business development.
Workstream areaFor name of partner:For campaign name:
Comms/PRStaff member leading on thisStaff member leading on this
EventsStaff member leading on thisStaff member leading on this
Social mediaStaff member leading on thisStaff member leading on this
WebsiteStaff member leading on thisStaff member leading on this
BrandingStaff member leading on thisStaff member leading on this
PartnershipStaff member leading on thisStaff member leading on this

You may have other areas specific to your campaign to add to the above.

  • commit to support name of campaign, including a pledge from CEO in the form of a public endorsement.
  • senior representation (C-suite/board level) at any (as appropriate and TBC) future campaign refresh events, again with public endorsement, and be willing to support media opportunities.
  • signposting to the name of campaign within partner name relevant communication channels (e.g. partner name is a proud supporter of name of campaign).
  • PR & Communications collaboration. Includes identifying and agreeing possible moments, paid for media, long term communications support, etc.
  • support broader regional events, as appropriate. This could take many forms e.g. content or a speaker for events
  • collaborate around future potential joint development opportunities
  • consider promotional offers for campaign target audience
  • agree not to conduct SEO optimisation for the term name of campaign (partners are however encouraged to optimise around other export terms to help signpost businesses to useful content and services to help them start exporting)

Name of partner commitments:

You may have other specific asks you wish to insert.


This Partnership Memorandum may be modified by mutual consent of authorised officials from name of department/ALB and name of partner. The Memorandum shall come into operation upon signature by the authorised officials from name of partner and department/ALB and, unless modified or terminated on notice by either of the partners by mutual consent, will remain in effect until insert date appropriate to the length of the campaign, this may be a few months or years.

Review period

Over the term of this Partnership Memorandum, and as we jointly evolve the programme, there will be numerous future development opportunities. Working in the spirit of collaboration department/ALB and name of partner will establish regular reviews, to review progress and develop new joint initiatives as appropriate.

This Partnership Memorandum is not intended to be legally binding, nor are any legal obligations or legal rights intended to arise between the participants from this Partnership Memorandum.

Department/ALB and name of partner shall bear their own costs in relation to this Partnership Memorandum.

All issues in connection with the application of this Partnership Memorandum will be examined jointly by department/ALB and name of partner. Any disputes concerning the interpretation or application of this Partnership Memorandum will be settled exclusively between the department/ALB and name of partner. For the avoidance of doubt, nothing contained in this Partnership Memorandum shall be construed as requiring either department/ALB and name of partner and/or any affiliate to enter into any further contractual or business relationship with the other participant and/or any of its affiliates.

Contact Information

Partner name:
Name of campaign/department/ALB

Partner representative:
Staff member name

Position: usually head of campaign

Telephone: insert

Email: insert
Partner name:

Partner representative:






Department/ALB (print): Name above

Name of company/organisation (print): Name above