WEEKLY WEB WATCH: GICS bible gives on-line PR guidance

Organisation: The Government Information and Communication Service (GICS)

Organisation: The Government Information and Communication Service


Issue: revamped web site

At: www.gics.gov.uk

The Government Information and Communication Service has updated its web

site to make it more useful to Government information officers, and make

the GICS more attractive to potential recruits.

The site, which kicks off with an introduction from GICS head Mike

Granatt, is now the primary publication vehicle for the GICS annual

report and the Red Book. The annual report itself, on-line for the first

time this spring, has been updated to include more information about

future developments in the service and specific achievements.

The Red Book is the GICS ’bible’ for government information officers -

the guide to how to do the job of being a press officer according to

best practice - and was 70 A5-sized pages when last revised in Sir

Bernard Ingham’s time. It has now been updated, and renamed the Handbook

- the hard copy version is now an A4 ring binder. The most significant

change to the Red Book is the introduction of the Toolkit, a series of

40 ’best practice’ articles covering working practices and issues, aimed

primarily at new recruits or people switching between specialisms. The

Handbook and the annual report both have plenty of hyperlinks to

relevant sites.

The site will be updated as new case studies and reports are produced,

such as a forthcoming report on the handling of Y2K, and more guidance

on the use of new media.

Other new sections on the web site deal with the structure and history

of the GICS; the latest version of the Civil Service Code and the work

of the GICS; career advice; and promotion and recruitment procedures,

including a sample application form.

The site works hard on recruitment. Among the key messages are that the

GICS is becoming more high-profile as ’presentation becomes ever more

important in policy-making’, and that the work is fun, exciting, and


It also stresses the variety of roles in the service and that recruits

could end up working anywhere, from a Whitehall press office, to

gathering news in Bosnia for its magazines for the armed forces. There

are a number of ’day in the life’ pages on the site covering a selection

of jobs in different departments, from the Cabinet Office to the Inland

Revenue, as well as details of vacancies.

The site won the finals of the Government Website Awards 2000 in


It is easy to navigate, and written in a fairly informal way, although

the official documents have not been ’dumbed down’. Putting key

documents on line is the logical way for such an enormous department to

go, and it succeeds in making what could be seen as one of the less sexy

areas of public relations into a serious contender for PROs considering

a change of direction.

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