The Government is preparing to launch an upskilling programme for its marketers as it looks to position for a future where “everything is digital”.
The ‘accelerate’ programme for marketers focuses on four key areas: campaign management, programmatic, social media and paid search. It came about after the Government Communication Service (GCS) mapped the skills and capabilities of its comms departments to find areas where there might be gaps.
A team of marketing leaders from across government, including Public Health England (PHE), the Department for Work and Pensions and the GREAT campaign, led by Alexia Clifford, deputy director of marketing activation at PHE, has then been looking at how this upskilling should be delivered.
“Things are moving so quickly in digital and social and on the tech side. There was a digital capability maturity audit last year…. and there were a few areas and disciplines that were identified as being ripe for a focus on digital skills,” Clifford tells Marketing Week.
“We’re looking at the skills required of high performing teams in marketing across government, mapping those against where there might be a training or learning need, and against that we’re mapping a learning programme initially for the next 12 months but we feel this is an ongoing transformation programme.”
The programme has a number of different ways for marketers in government to learn. There will be opportunities for cross-department information sharing, online learning courses, podcasts and formal training. GCS is working closely with its new media buying agency Manning Gottlieb on this, as well as the digital platforms. There is no mandatory element, but marketers are encouraged get involved in areas they think are most relevant to their jobs and departments.
“We want as many people to be excited about this as possible and make it something people really want to do,” she says. “The message is it’s easy to be scared about all the changes that are happening, easy to not be up to speed with them. But the changes that are happening are really positive and there are loads of opportunities to make what we do more effective in terms of reaching the right people at the right time in the right mindset with our messages.”
There will also be an evaluation framework, with the programme monitored by the GCS leadership team, as well as learning and evaluation professionals. The hope is the work will make the government a “more intelligent client”.
Eventually we won’t talk about digital at all but for now we want to make sure people are embracing it and really maximising the opportunities digital offers.
“We’re trying to bring the whole of GCS up to the level of best because there are pockets of best practice,” Clifford adds.
PHE is one of those pockets of best practice and will be sharing some of the work it has done in digital and tech with other departments in the hopes they can learn from it. Clifford points in particular to voice, where PHE has seen big success with a breastfeeding voice skill on Amazon’s Alexa and Google.
The skill offers mothers hands-free advice on breastfeeding that has been developed with NHS midwives. It means that no matter the time of day, mums can speak to a voice that can offer official NHS Advice.
PHE now wants to share how it approached the tech and the lessons it learned more broadly across government in order to motivate other departments to “have a go”.
“It would be easy to move into things like voice just because the tech is there and we want to try it out,” she says. “But [you need to] choose the right business objectives and not just do it for the sake of doing the next cool thing.
“There is real value in breaking [digital] down and demystifying and painting a picture of what’s possible. Eventually we won’t talk about digital at all but for now we want to make sure people are embracing it and really maximising the opportunities digital offers.”