Government places Brexit at the heart of its annual communication plan

The Government has revealed how Brexit will be at the centre of its communications over the coming year, in what Whitehall comms chiefs say is an historic moment for the profession.

Brexit will be at the centre of Government comms over the coming year (©ThinkstockPhotos)
Brexit will be at the centre of Government comms over the coming year (©ThinkstockPhotos)
In the introduction to the latest Government Communication Plan, comms directors from more than 20 major departments described "supporting our exit from the EU" as "one of the biggest communication challenges in history."

The recently released document, for 2017/18, outlined how the government will embark on a major campaign to promote the theme of a "global Britain and Northern Ireland." 

This will seek to explain "the Government’s preparations for leaving the EU and reassuring citizens and businesses that a deal will be negotiated that works for all," according to the report.

We will face one of the biggest communication challenges in history – supporting our exit from the EU.

Comms directors introduction to the Government Communications Plan 20o17/18
Securing the backing of the general population is key and Prime Minister Theresa May is quoted in the report saying that she wants an agreement "that has the greatest possible public support".

The plan detailed the roles played by different Whitehall departments to support the Government’s aim of getting "the right Brexit deal for the UK".

The Department for Exiting the European Union (DEXEU) "will explain the Government’s preparations for leaving the EU and achieving a deal that works for the whole of the UK". 

It will work with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) "to inform, reassure and influence businesses throughout the exit process".

The Department for International Trade (DIT) will "showcase the UK as a great trading nation and make the case for free trade as a driver of prosperity and consumer choice". 

It will work alongside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), VisitBritain, the British Council and 17 other departments or government-related organisations, in promoting Britain as a "world-class destination for trade, investment, education and tourism".

DIT has also been charged with running the Exporting is GREAT campaign to help British businesses "start exporting and secure business across the world". 

An international trade and inward investment campaign will encourage overseas companies to buy British goods and services and invest in the UK. 

And the DIT, through UK Export Finance, will "educate and help UK exporters make the most of export finance and insurance".

The FCO, in collaboration with BEIS, DIT and other government departments, will promote Britain "as a global force for good, an economic power and a great place to do business with and from".

Other issues that government comms teams will be tasked with supporting in the coming months include keeping Britain united, expressed as: "ensuring a secure and strong Union," as well as "developing a stronger economy" and "building a fairer society."

Last year, the Government Communications Plan - published ahead of the EU Referendum vote - sought to communicate the benefits of remaining in a reformed EU.

This year's report also looked at future improvement of the Government Communication Service (GCS). 

Speeding up the use of digital comms tools, delivering "joined-up communications to specific audiences at specific life stages" and creating best practice guidance for media relations in government are among the areas for improvement. 

The GCS has also committed to "improving the way we gather data and use insight to inform our work" and: "improving the effectiveness of our digital marketing".

Improving strategic engagement, reaching digital influencers, and reaching international audiences post-Brexit, will be among the topics covered in a GCS improvement programme due to start in November. 

On the people needed to put its plans into action, the GCS report said: "We are committed to building a diverse workforce and inclusive workplaces."

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