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100 Years of Government Communication

In ‘100 Years of Government Communication’, historian Alexander McKenna uncovers the story behind the headlines and charts the development of the communications function from the First World War through to the present day.

McKenna examines how, during the First and Second World Wars, the “mastery of information was crucial to victory and with it the preservation of the ultimate ‘truth’ of the nation’s parliamentary democracy”.

As well as introducing the many personalities who helped shape what is now called the Government Communication Service, the author looks at claims of propaganda in the first half of the century, and spin in the latter half.

Most recently, government communications has seen a shift to “a system of tracking online content based on the extent to which it is liked, shared or commented on and then taking immediate action if it is deemed necessary”. This has taken the form of the Rapid Response Unit, set up in April 2018, dealing with what is commonly referred to as ‘fake news’.

There is a particular focus on the importance of the Downing Street Press Secretary and shows how the role has evolved as the media has become all encompassing, with exclusive interviews with a press secretaries old and new.

The use of advertising through the ages is also explored, demonstrating that while it has dramatically changed, the underlying communications’ principles of educating the public has remained the same.

Click here to read Alexander McKenna’s 100 Years of Government Communications History.


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