Editorial – value for money

The brief

To create training and reference materials for use by staff within the Department for Education and its executive agencies.

The background

While in an ideal world, communications specialists would be responsible for drafting and disseminating content, in straitened times, this work falls increasingly to policy teams. Though experts in their field, many have no experience of tailoring their writing for a particular medium or audience. This means the quality of the department’s communications can vary considerably, creating the following risks:

  • the department’s reputation is endangered or undermined
  • important messages are not received or understood
  • the department’s audience receives an inconsistent view of what it does and what its values are

We were asked to draft some materials that would help to raise and standardise the quality of the work produced by employees of the department and its executive agencies.

What we did

We created a clear, simple style guide, including an ‘A to Z’ of terms that could be downloaded or accessed online. We also produced reference materials for ‘writing for the web’ workshops, which were held across the department’s sites.

How our approach represented value for money

By expanding the skillset of the existing workforce, the department can rely on its own people to successfully communicate its messages rather than outsourcing work. While there will always be a place for ad-hoc commissions, depending on contractors to perform regular communications functions is expensive; by equipping civil servants with the knowledge they need to do a good job, the requirement for outside help is greatly reduced if not removed.

As the materials themselves are self-contained, i.e. they don’t need to be accompanied by training in order to make sense, they can be circulated, reproduced or revised for free.

How this benefited the client

There have been two main benefits for the client:

  • the quality of written content has improved – staff members make fewer mistakes, choose the right communication channels, and write in an audience-focused way
  • money that would otherwise have been spent on outsourcing has been saved

Referee details are available on request

Got a question?

Call Nick Spence on 01486 608224