Communicating digital – what is the role of comms?

7 min read Written by: Victoria Ford

The terms digital and IT are often used interchangeably, but digital transformation is so much more than just technology. It’s designing services around the needs of your users, it’s creating an organisation with the culture and skills for change to succeed. It’s about people.

This week I joined a meeting of the Community of Practice for Communicating Digital set up by the newly created Centre for Digital Public Services.  It’s a group brought together to share good practice, provide support and work collaboratively.  It’s one of those places where the conversations are happening. We were joined by Adam Palmer from Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and Ross Gregory, my colleague from Perago.  The idea was to bring in two agile delivery managers to give their experience of working with comms teams. Rather than comms people talking to comms people in a bubble we were given the perspective of those directly involved in delivering digital change.

  • An effective delivery mechanism
  • Effective ways of working
  • Effective communications
  • Comms need to be part of the strategy discussion.  Include comms from the outset and give them a head start.  Delivery managers need to focus on outcomes and comms people can help bring clarity to those outcomes by being involved in the conversations where strategy is developed and tested.
  • Think about how to engage internally.  Adam and Ross gave an example of working with the comms team to create tangible prototypes of the change they were delivering that could be shared with colleagues to get feedback and bring the change to life.  That way colleagues started to feel part of the change that was happening and could engage as the changes progressed, providing support and helping embed new ways of working.
  • Trust the comms expertise in the room.  Allow comms to be proactive in delivering the solutions they know will work. Comms is a specialism so let them lead and let them deliver as part of your team. Adam admitted that in the past he had been guilty of asking comms teams to ‘send out an email’ or ‘publish a tweet’, but now he approaches it differently, talking about what he’s trying to achieve, the outcomes, and using expertise of the comms team to help him achieve it.