Communicating digital – get involved
To really deliver better public services, organisations need to communicate effectively both internally and externally. In March we did a short piece of work to explore some of the challenges for organisations when it comes to communicating digital and whether there’s a role for the Centre to support in this space.
In partnership with Perago, we worked with the local authorities involved with our digital squad project on accessing adult social care. We wanted to:
- Get a better understand the barriers to communicating digital service delivery
- Explore how communication teams can support ‘working out loud’ in digital change
- Test the concept by providing hands on practical support
- Share good practice
What we found
Many of the priorities for communicating digital are the same as for any other topic or campaign. Clear objectives, an understanding of your audience, transparent planning, measurements and a clear delivery approach are a must. Some of the additional themes we found are:
- Communicating digital change is difficult, with different terminology, roles and ways of working that are new to some organisations. This is an area that’s also new to many communications professionals who are now focusing their personal development in this area, seeking advice and guidance.
- Working in the open doesn’t always come naturally for organisations and is often a new way of thinking. This shift needs more interaction across teams. It can be useful to start with smaller groups or projects, learning from this and adapting as you learn.
- Positive and clearly defined relationships between comms teams and digital teams help when experimenting with new channels and new ways of communicating.
- Communicators need to have as clear an understanding of their users as the service owners and broader digital teams do. Who is your audience, what do they need to know, when and how?
- Audiences generally prefer to hear from people, particularly about things they don’t yet trust or understand. Sharing content so that people can attribute information to an actual person, or group of people, helps keep attention and build understanding. It also builds trust and opens up conversation.
- Digital and communications teams will need to become more comfortable in using two-way communications channels to encourage conversation, ideas and challenge. Their input actually becomes part of the progress. Providing the audience with a way to directly engage with the delivery teams, service owners or stakeholders helps the audience have a sense of ownership or involvement in the change and this will help drive real behaviour change.
We also took the opportunity to provide some hands on support and share good practice. This led to the development of a short playbook, or guide, with tips, resources and practical advice. This will now be developed to form a ‘Communicating Digital’ playbook that will be openly available through the CDPS website.
This forms one of three immediate recommendations, all of which have been accepted and will now form part of the work of the Centre over the next 12 months.
These are to:
- Develop a ‘Communicating Digital’ playbook to be hosted on the CDPS website as part of the ‘Toolbox’.
- Develop a Community of Practice for communicators working with digital teams.
- Test communications support as part of digital squads.
Would you like to be part of our community?
The first recommendation we’ll be looking at is developing a community of practice for comms people working with digital teams or in organisations going through digital change.
We want to share ideas, approaches and challenges and hope that the community will be a starting point for that. If you have any thoughts or ideas on communicating change around public services in Wales or have any good examples you’d like to share then please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.
If you’d like to be a part of this community and get involved drop us a line at https://digitalpublicservices.gov.wales/communicating-digital/