Government Communication Service works up innovation strategy

Comms service wants departments to use up to 10% of their campaign budgets testing new techniques

By Jim Dunton

24 Apr 2024

The Government Communication Service is gearing up to release a new strategy setting out how teams can "innovate with impact", using data and technology to transform work in an ethical way.

It said the plan, which will be named the Innovating with Impact Strategy, will be an "important step" in embedding a culture of innovation across GCS, by equipping teams with the skills, tools and frameworks to capitalise on new technology.

According to GCS, the plan will outline a "systematic approach" to innovation by encouraging and identifying new ideas that can drive value; rapidly testing them through "robust piloting"; and scaling the learnings across the whole service, which has more than 7,000 members.

GCS trailed the strategy in the just-published UK Government Communication Plan 2024-25, which also promises publication of a new Framework for Ethical Innovation this year.

The communication plan flags the ongoing development of the GCS AI co-pilot, which is a conversational artificial intelligence tool for GCS members that is tailored to government communications.

It brings together a high-performing large language model and overlays GCS data, frameworks and standards.

In December, GCS chief executive Simon Baugh told CSW he expected the AI co-pilot would be rolled out this year.

The comms plan sets out an aspiration for government departments to use up to 10% of their existing campaign budgets on innovative techniques that GCS can test.

It says the practice would mirror the behaviour of the biggest private sector advertisers.

More than 30 innovation projects are being piloted as part of this year’s campaigns, supported by a single change to spending controls, according to the plan.

Among the pilots is a project with advertising agency Audiomob, which GCS said enabled it to better target key audiences through "non-intrusive" in-game audio adverts.

Baugh said the plan showed how GCS would use its communications expertise to deliver results for the nation over the year ahead.

"I’m proud of the progress we’ve made to implement our strategy over the past year, achieving the majority of the commitments a year ahead of schedule," he said.

"This success is driven by a culture that supports people to test and learn, driving innovation across government. It’s the same culture that makes our trailblazing campaigns some of the most recognisable in the industry."

Among its successful work over the past year, GCS highlighted the first phase of the "It All Adds Up" energy-efficiency campaign, delivered by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. GCS said the campaign was estimated to have saved households £120m on their energy bills in 2023-24.

New work previewed in the plan includes the expansion of the "Stop! Think Fraud" campaign, a new initiative to support women to take positive action to improve their health, and awareness raising for the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings.


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