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Building a global standard for government communications

Blog posted by: Ashley Winter, Head of Strategic Communications GCSI, 06 October 2022.

The provision of timely information, and countering disinformation are 2 core tasks of government communicators. Current global instability, particularly through that caused by the Russian state, have emphasised how effective communication is a vital part of the armoury of modern government.  

GCS is working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a group of 38 market democracies including Korea, Columbia and Germany, to strengthen global governments’ communication functions. 

Five principles

This project has already produced a report on public information which sets out how: “to use public communication more effectively, as an instrument of policy making, service design and delivery, and democracy itself”.

It identifies 5 principles that should underpin this:

  • empower the public communication function
  • professionalise communications units
  • build work around measurable policy objectives, grounded in evidence
  • seize the potential of digital tech and
  • fight misinformation and disinformation

Next steps

The next steps in the project are to establish global standards and a network with an Academy to share learnings and best practice to embed these principles and deliver a step change improvement in public communication among the economically advanced democracies. 

There are significant benefits for the UK if administrations across the world have strong communications functions. Encouraging more transparent conversations between the public and their governments increases citizen trust, leading to resilient democracies and underpinning global security. 

A global profession for governments’ communication functions, with agreed global standards, will also raise the standing of the profession helping communicators around the world increase the impact of their public communications activity. 

Last week, (26-27 September 2022) the Cabinet Office’s Global Communications Academy team joined the OECD’s Expert Group on Public Communications and demonstrated to members the full potential of a shared Academy learning offer. 

Fiona Speirs, Tim Evans, Jessie Beham and Ashley Winter, from the Academy, led an immersive crisis simulation exercise, with more than 50 participants from over 15 countries across the world as diverse as Canada, Chile, Australia, Lebanon, and Norway joining, some from the conference in Paris, others online via the Academy platform.

Tim Evans seated on the left next to Jessie Beham seated on the right - both from the GCS Global Academy

Tim Evans and Jessie Beham from the GCS Global Academy

Alex Aiken held a number of bilateral discussions with potential partners and took part in panels on citizen-centred communications and building towards an Academy, with Fiona Speirs.

The event was a huge success, rallying support for co-building the OECD Communication Network’s Academy with the learning exercise described as “stellar” by the OECD and “excellent strategically, operationally and technically ” by participants. Over 95% of participants said this kind of exercise would be useful for their organisation indicating strong interest in the UK’s offer to a future OECD Network.

A group of 5 attendees talking during an exercise

Attendees talking during an exercise

The next step to make the global profession a reality is showcasing UK best practice as part of a ‘scan’ the OECD will carry out, interviewing select DoCs (Director of Communications) and Executive Directors across GCS. This activity is scheduled to take place from October – December 2022. 

We hope that the lessons, interactions and networks from this work will enrich the GCS and the teams we will work with, across the world.


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