Communication is a key lever of policy delivery...

...but communication leaders who took part in The Leaders' Report are frustrated that it is misunderstood and underused, and that it rarely fulfils its potential.

This section of the research looks at why respondents believe this to be the case. It also suggests what could be done to increase the impact that communication can have on policy delivery. In doing so, we have drawn heavily on qualitative and quantitative research, and our audit of existing best and emerging practice.

Many of the obstacles faced are shared by government communicators around the world. However, there is significant variation between countries, regions and political systems, and the benefits of a global overview must be qualified: there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will improve the impact of government communication. We recognise the need for local adaptation and specificity. What follows, therefore, is a pragmatic starting point that warrants more localised study, trialling and testing.

While technology is fundamentally changing how governments and citizens communicate and engage, these challenges relate to fundamental basics of human communication. Our task is to relearn these fundamentals and ensure they are delivered in a way that is applicable to the 21st century.

The research enabled us to develop three common typologies to classify the performance of most government communication functions. The typologies are:

  • Marginalised megaphone. These teams face serious challenges across all five areas. Broadcast remains the primary form of communication and team skills and structures reflect this. Influence with key decision makers is distant
  • Mind, but not matter. Most countries covered in The Leaders' Report fall into this category. Communication leaders realise the need for a marked shift in how they communicate, but struggle to make the necessary improvements in their function
  • Crossing the last frontier. A small minority of participants demonstrate best practice across most of the key areas of activity. Complete integration as a fourth lever of government is not complete as they lack sufficient authority, influence and resources to fulfil their potential.

While some teams may sit exclusively within a single typology, others may sit across more than one due to discrepancy of performance across these five areas.