Scottish Government communications plan: 2017-18

This plan sets out how the Scottish Government's Communications Division will contribute to the delivery of the Programme for Government.

Communications Plan 2017-18


Good communication is part of the Scottish Government’s fabric. Internally it contributes to organisational transformation and externally it helps build trust, shift attitudes and change behaviours.

It has also never been needed more than during this period of unprecedented ambition, change and uncertainty:

  • in September, the First Minister launched a bold and ambitious Programme for Government (PfG) – we need to be clear about our own ambitions in Communications and how they will contribute to the delivery of PfG
  • the latest Ofcom Communications Market Report shows the way people consume information continues to rapidly change – we need to continue to change too so that we engage with our audiences in the most effective way
  • there remains a great deal of uncertainty in relation to Brexit and its consequences – we need to be able to adapt and react to a fast changing political landscape.

And, of course, we need to do all of this while continuing to deliver efficiencies and value for money, building on the significant savings we have already achieved in the past year.

The communications priorities set out in this Communications Plan are designed to provide strategic direction for the Communications Division and enable it to match resources to priorities. They are also designed to guide our partnership working with other parts of the Scottish Government and with other public bodies.

To deliver these priorities we will adhere to five core principles in the year ahead:

Digital first – We will place the strongest emphasis on digital and social media activity, alongside broadcast media, recognising that more people than ever are engaging with us in this way.

Evidence and insight – We will work to ensure all communications activity is based on sound evidence and rooted in audience insight; this will include a national roll-out of our pilot Parent Strategy and exploring whether a similar approach could work with other target audiences.

Robust evaluation – We will evaluate our work, measuring outcomes where possible, to test impact and continuously improve.

Collaboration – We will support effective and efficient communications across the wider organisation, reviving and empowering the engagement manager network, and across the public sector; this will include the partnership work with VisitScotland, Scottish Development International and Universities Scotland that will see a single overseas campaign to promote Scotland as a great place to live, work, study, visit and invest.

Innovation – We will continue to identify and test new ways of working, such as the communications and engagement model being rolled out in the Social Security Directorate.

And finally, to achieve all of this we need highly-skilled communications professionals. We will continue to recruit, nurture and develop talent through our new Step Up training and development programme.

Communications Priorities

Our communications priorities set out how we will make a tangible contribution to the delivery of Programme for Government, providing a framework for teams’ business plans and individuals’ objectives so that everyone understands their contribution.

Future of opportunity

Highlight the infrastructure improvements and support available to industries, entrepreneurs and businesses.

Promote the benefits of the move to low carbon to individuals and organisations, with the aim of encouraging long-term and sustainable behaviour change, as well as wider activity to support delivery of the new climate change targets.

Publicise measures we are taking to make Scotland’s transport system cleaner, greener and healthier, while doubling our investment in active travel.

Support efforts to find new ways to utilise expertise that exists within North Sea oil and gas while demonstrating the steps we are taking to support the industry.

Highlight the work underway to support the development of new bodies and services which will encourage economic growth and support employment – the Scottish National Investment Bank, South of Scotland Agency, National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland and Fair Start Scotland.

Co-create a new partnership approach to promoting Scotland internationally as a country to visit, live, work, study and invest in, working with Scottish Development International, VisitScotland and Universities Scotland.

Highlight efforts to protect the rural economy and interests during the Brexit negotiations and encourage stakeholders to submit their views to UK Government so that our circumstances and experience can inform their policy development.

Services fit for the future

Promote Scotland as the best place for a child to be born and have the best start as they grow, including the support available for families with young children such as the Baby Box, Best Start Grant and extension of free early learning and childcare.

Support the delivery of education reforms to help close the poverty-related attainment gap and raise standards for all through Pupil Equity Funding and active teacher recruitment while also increasing parent/ carer involvement in their children’s learning and development.

Highlight the positive effects of support for Higher and Further Education students associated with actions to widen access and improve student finance, and promote opportunities for young people to realise their full potential including through Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths ( STEM) and work-related learning.

Support and promote a wide programme of activity for the Year of Young People 2018 which will celebrate their achievements, value their contribution to our communities and create new opportunities for them to shine.

Increase awareness of the rights of children and young people and the change of law on physical punishment.

Illustrate how we are creating stronger and safer communities through modernisation of the justice system.

Increase public understanding about the nature of violence against women and girls and challenge harmful attitudes including highlighting legislation to strengthen responses to incidents of domestic abuse.

Promote the role of the police and other emergency and public services as they work to keep people safe from harm, including responding to emerging challenges around terrorism and cyber crime.

Promote the benefits to individuals, communities and organisations of planning for disruptive events or emergencies, including severe weather, cyber-attacks or disease outbreaks, and publicise the work of the Scottish Government to support national resilience to these challenges.

Help to improve road safety behaviour with the aim of reducing injuries and deaths on our roads and create awareness of a new drug driving offence which will come into force in 2019.

Demonstrate the work already under way to reduce obesity and persuade people to adopt a healthier diet, including proposed restrictions on the marketing of high fat, sugar, or salt products.

Explain the aims of our refreshed Alcohol Framework in fostering a healthier attitude towards alcohol and what further action we intend to take to discourage alcohol abuse in light of the Supreme Court decision on minimum pricing.

Support action designed to prevent ill-health, including work to reduce smoking, increase physical activity levels, encourage earlier detection and diagnosis of cancer, and raise awareness of the dangers of sepsis.

Showcase, in partnership with NHS boards, the impact of investment in the NHS and the implementation of the Health and Social Care Delivery Plan that aims to ensure the NHS continues to develop and evolve to meet patients’ needs.

Highlight increasing levels of investment in improved mental health services, including implementation of our new Mental Health Strategy.

Publicise the move to a soft opt-out approach for organ donation ahead of the introduction of legislation and persuade people to continue to join the Organ Donor Register and discuss their intentions with family members.

Communicate and engage with SG staff internally on our SG2020 programme with its vision of a more open, capable and responsive organisation.

Building a fairer Scotland

Increase awareness and take-up of benefits, including those devolved to us and delivered via the new social security agency, while highlighting work to explore a citizen’s basic income and investigating other innovative ways of supporting people in need.

Demonstrate the actions taken to tackle child poverty, including £50 million of investment over five years in a new Tackling Child Poverty Fund to meet targets set out in the Child Poverty Bill.

Highlight actions which address fuel poverty, including the new Warm Homes Bill and its statutory fuel poverty target and new energy efficiency targets for the private rented sector.

Illustrate progress being made towards building 50,000 good quality, affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament as well as action to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

Demonstrate the work we are undertaking, in partnership with Scotland’s new Land Commission, to accelerate land reform to help Scotland make the most of its land, support the tenanted sector, and ensure better engagement with communities in decisions relating to local land.

Showcase how our work, reforms and investment in local decision-making in communities is enabling them to take greater control of their own projects and contribute to a better future.

Demonstrate the action we are taking to protect and implement human rights for everyone by ensuring equality, dignity and respect are embedded into everything we do, including progress towards gender parity on all our public boards as part of the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill.

Promote the launch of a scheme to fund access to free sanitary products for students in schools, colleges and universities so that everyone who needs these essential items can get them.

A confident, outward-looking nation

Publicise a new Culture Strategy for Scotland where everyone has the opportunity to take part in, or contribute to, cultural life and where inequalities and obstacles do not hinder that experience.

Highlight continuing investment in culture and heritage infrastructure, and our backing for the screen industry through the creation of a new Screen Unit within Creative Scotland with a budget for the sector of £20 million a year.

Maximise the communication opportunities for Glasgow and Scotland to shine on a world stage via the Glasgow 2018 European Championships.

Publicise the rationale behind and impact of international development and humanitarian aid directed by Scottish Ministers to fight global poverty, inequality, and injustice, and promote sustainable development.

Demonstrate the range of activity across government to develop and improve our international relationships.

Set out the positive case for immigration to meet Scotland’s economic, demographic and cultural needs and counter negative rhetoric and beliefs so that more people will choose to live and work in Scotland, and migrants living here are able to remain and feel welcomed.

Highlight the benefits of the Scottish Government’s aim of continued membership of the European Single Market and Customs Union and support the case for new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament in the wake of Brexit.



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