Government communicators must build on past successes to meet the challenges of the future

This year, I celebrate five years leading the Government Communication Service (GCS) and find myself reflecting on how far we as a profession have come.

Alex Aiken says his personal development plan includes learning more about digital comms
Alex Aiken says his personal development plan includes learning more about digital comms

Looking back over the past five years, we have had so many award-winning and ground-breaking campaigns, campaigns that have truly impacted upon people’s lives. 

Whether it’s GREAT, people’s pensions, public service recruitment, Change4Life, modern slavery, or apprenticeships, it’s hard not to notice our work wherever you look. 

GCS is truly in a league of its own. That is something I am extremely proud of, and I hope each of you are too.

Five years ago, both Britain and its Government were very different. They had different challenges and different priorities. 

In January 2018, the Prime Minister set a new narrative – building a country that works for everyone: a Britain fit for the future. 

GCS supports this through an impressive array of campaigns that will achieve great outcomes for our society.

Within the new narrative, there are four priority themes:

  • A stronger, fairer economy.
  • A more caring society.
  • A truly global Britain.
  • A strong, new relationship with Europe.

In January 2018, I set colleagues across the Government communication profession eight challenges for the year ahead. 

Over this next year, we have a lot to do and we must continue to challenge each other, ensuring every government communicator delivers exceptional campaigns. 

Each campaign must make the best use of public funds, and generate return on investment. 

To achieve this, we must continue to partner across the public sector, and utilise the expertise of private and third-sector organisations too.

This will ensure our reach and impact, but, most importantly, the outcome of all our work.


UK Government to run more than 140 campaigns in 2018/19


GCS is the pinnacle of the Civil Service Leadership statement, no matter your grade or managerial responsibilities, we are all leaders in our own rights. 

As always, GCS remains wholly committed to continuously improving ourselves, our members and our work. 

Our challenging improvement programme and our development of each member continues with extensive training and learning opportunities and a library of resources and recommended reading lists. 

For myself, over the next year, I intend to build on my understanding of digital communications, improve my knowledge of evaluation and publish an updated framework for the profession.

Alongside this, I plan to help define strategic communication and external engagement across the profession, improving GCS and disseminating industry best practice. 

This year’s plan is a must-read for every government communicator. Every piece of our work, no matter how big or small, fits into our overall narrative and delivering the Government’s priorities. 

We all have a vital role to play in the busy year ahead and to ensure our profession continues to be one of the most renowned, both within and outside of Government.

Alex Aiken, executive director, GCS



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