The future of public sector communications

Blog post by Selvin Brown, Programme Director, GCS Improvement Programme

Thursday 30 July 2015

Last week, the Government Communication Service published the new Government’s first annual communications plan. While our focus is on delivering world-class communications that support the Government’s priorities today, it is just as vital to we start to prepare

The game is changing. The pace of technological change will only quicken – Google told us during this project: “Technology will never be as slow as it is today”. This is radically changing the social and economic foundations of how the public live and consume communications. So unless public service communications in the UK changes profoundly, one thing that can be said for certain is that it will be left behind [and not heard].

Communications Futures was one of 12 GCS Improvement Projects in 2013/14, bringing together external experts from academia, media, local government, the public and private sector to consider how we will meet the challenges of this social, economic, and technological revolution. Also, importantly how the GCS can seize the opportunities identified and continually keep ahead of this extraordinary pace of change.

The Future of Public Service Communications report (PDF, 420kb) sets out the key trends and transformative technologies (the big 14 game changers) shaping our profession, and how the GCS will respond, do things differently to achieve our ambition to be world leading by 2018. Also how the GCS will continuously improve and become a crucible for innovation that will ensure we continue to be fit for the future of communications.

This means communicators increasingly requiring different and more technical skill sets; such as data analytics, content creation and behavioural science techniques. It means developing new relationships with our audiences, building trust through two-way and open engagement, and nurturing a network of third party groups to amplify messages. It means creating responsive media centres producing ready to publish technologies, prioritising new technology and retaining talent.  We must position GCS at the forefront of digital communications and become one of the innovators, not just simply adopt the latest digital channels.

Communications teams will have to accelerate their move to collaborate with partners, use insight to identify and nudge audiences and communicate across a range of platforms. As the evidence in this report conclusively shows, communication must be built around the citizen delivering information to them in the way they want, which fits in with their lives.

The key findings of the report  forms the basis of  GCS planning for 2015/6 and beyond;  creating a modern communications operating model that is fit for purpose, equips our people with the skills they need, and which builds public trust through communications.

The future of communications will be about science, not art, run by communicators who are fit for this future…that means communicators remaining at the forefront of the latest thinking, constantly updating skillsets in order to keep ahead of the extraordinary pace of change. We have no time to lose if we want to keep pace with change, and be part of a world leading team by 2018.

Thanks again to all the contributors to Communications Future and we hope more of you will join in the discussion #GCSfuture. It is vital we start to prepare for the future…today.

Read the full report: The Future of Public Service Communications (PDF, 420kb)