Government Communications executive director Alex Aiken on significant progress for the comms profession in 2017

Written by Civil Service World on 26 December 2017 in Feature
Feature

With the end of 2017 fast approaching, we asked the UK's top civil servants to look back at the year, outline their goals for 2018 – and tell us what they cannot do Christmas without

What are you most proud of achieving in 2017?

I think that the communication profession has made significant progress this year. We’ve seen 100 campaigns delivered such as Change4Life, numerous recruitment campaigns that are all on track, and the GREAT campaign, which generates £3bn benefit to Britain. I’m proud to say that the profession has achieved a green rating by the National Audit Office, plaudits from the Institute for Government and a good score from the civil service survey of functions. And we’ve done this on the hundredth anniversary of the agreement to create a government communication service, so I’m proud that we are fulfilling our mission to promote, explain and justify government policies and change behaviour for public good, 100 years after our formation.

What was your most difficult decision in 2017?

This year the prime minister invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty so the United Kingdom can leave the European Union. Naturally, external communications around this is a big challenge with significant decisions on what and how we communicate. Specifically for the communication profession, we’ve had record levels of applications for roles and many strong candidates. Turning people down is tough, and those recruitment decisions have been among the most difficult ones, and we’ve appointed some excellent candidates, including around six directors of communication this year.

What are your department’s top priorities in the year ahead?

The first priority is to ensure that we communicate the prime minister’s goal of building a Britain that is fit for the future. Getting communications around Brexit right is the key challenge. Preparing people for leaving the EU, ensuring people know what it means for the economy, for example. We want to ensure that we communicate Britain’s global role in security, prosperity and helping eradicate poverty. We’ll also be developing important counter terrorism campaigns such as ‘Make Nothing Happen’.

For you, no Christmas holiday is complete without…

Cardiff City or rugby on Boxing Day. We have family living in Wales and we enjoy being able to spend some time away from London. And watching and playing sport is one of our favourite family activities.

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