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7.1 Communications planning and evaluation

Principles

Communication is an integral part of the development, management and delivery of government policies, programs and services. As such, communication requirements should be fully accounted for when budgeting for new initiatives.

Communications is a shared responsibility that requires the support, co-operation and interaction of various personnel throughout an agency (see section 9 - Roles and responsibilities).

Communications planning – through the development of a communications strategy or plan - identifies the communication objectives of a project, the means by which they can be achieved, and methods of monitoring and evaluation.

It is particularly important that communication issues are considered in drafting and developing Cabinet submissions likely to generate public interest. The inclusion of a communications strategy with Cabinet Minutes (see Requirements) aims to provide Ministers and Cabinet with a basic outline of how agencies intend to communicate particular decisions to the public. It also provides evidence that communication issues have been properly considered.

The Government Communications Office reviews Cabinet Submissions prepared by agencies to ensure appropriate measures and adequate resources are recommended to meet planned communication objectives.

Policy requirements

Agencies must:

  • Ensure all Cabinet Minutes involving policy changes, public announcements, new initiatives and major decisions include a communications strategy that has been approved by the relevant agency’s communications manager or their delegate. Exceptions to this must be approved by the Government Communications Office. The communications strategy will also be attached to the signed Cabinet decision communicated to the responsible Heads of Agency.
  • Pre-test and evaluate advertising campaigns valued at more than $50 000 (see section 8.1 Advertising).

It is recommended that:

  • a communications strategy or plan be developed at the initiation of a project
  • qualitative and quantitative research (including concept testing) be used to inform the development of a communications strategy (see section 8.12 Social and market research)
  • agencies seek the advice of the Government Communications Office on issues and themes that may have whole-of-government implications that require co-ordination of communications planning across multiple agencies
  • communications activities be monitored to allow improvements or adjustments to be made as needed during implementation
  • communications strategies are formally evaluated to assess their effectiveness (including cost-effectiveness).