Communicating digital – understanding the challenges

Man using smart phone and laptop

Written by Sally Meecham, CEO, Centre for Digital Public Services, Wales

Open communication has been a key principle for us from day one. To really deliver better public services, organisations need to communicate effectively both internally and externally. We’ve used the principle of communicating openly in everything we have done in the Centre so far, but we also want to understand how public sector organisations across Wales are using communications to support delivery of their services, where good practice is happening and what support they may need.

To help start to understand this we’ve kicked off a short piece of work to look at some of the challenges and how the Centre could offer support around communicating digital transformation.


What does this look like?

Working with the local authorities involved with our digital squad project on accessing adult social care, we’ve partnered with Perago to:

  • 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


Early days

We’ve started our conversations with the teams at Neath Port Talbot Council (NPT). It’s still only a few days in, but the work and conversations so far have given us a really good insight into the planning that NPT has done around their digital services and the impact of Covid on these plans.

As well as a focus on planning, insight and strategy, we’ve also covered off:

Channels – it’s sometimes a challenge to identify channels that are easily accessible by all colleagues due to the wide variety of roles and work locations. Understanding what channels work best for what content and which audiences is key. We’ve spoken about working more with video (both recorded and live) to help portray complex messages. We’ve also spoken about using other Office365 products like Teams Live Events to increase leadership visibility and facilitate Q&A sessions.

Content – authentic, timely engaging content is always key, but the teams are also considering how content is categorised to help the ‘cut through’ of important messages. We’ve discussed developing a few themed items or regular features to help develop consistent content with a rhythm and routine.

Style and Tone – people like hearing from people so we’ll be exploring more about how we bring out the people behind the digital services and their users. There’s a lot of good work being done by good people – to make it appealing to the broader audience (internal and external) it may work to share a bit more of the personalities involved in delivery of digital.


Next steps

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be working closely with the team at Neath Port Talbot and picking up conversations with Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent to get a wider view of the challenges and needs of the teams delivering digital services.

Nita Sparkes from Neath Port Talbot Council’s digital team said, ‘This is a great opportunity for us and I’m really looking forward to seeing the output from this work and how it will help us to strengthen our comms strategy for the digital transformation / service design work currently underway.’

We know there’s some great work going on in public sector organisations in Wales and their comms teams and this year has been more challenging than ever. As part of this work we want to look at how we can share ideas, approaches and challenges. 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.

Originally posted here

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