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EP#150: UK Government Communication Tactics, Disinformation and the Ukraine War

GovComms Podcast is back with brand new episodes.

Our first episode of the season welcomes back Alex Aiken, the Executive Director for Government Communications in the UK, who was our very first guest when the podcast debuted in 2015 as the 'InTransition Podcast'. The landscape of government communication has evolved since then, and this episode dives into the latest developments.

Host David Pembroke and Alex Aiken explore the collaborative efforts between the UK Government Communication Service (GCS) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Alex sheds light on the OECD's role in auditing and evaluating the UK's government communication practices, sharing insights into the process.

“One of the things that the OECD asked us to do was submit UK Government Communications to a what they call a country scan. What they really mean is an audit of UK Government Communications and the report we published next month early in February. Now that takes a degree of courage.” – Alex Aiken

The episode also delves into the UK Government's communication response to the war in Ukraine.

“When it was inevitable that the Russians were set to invade then we set up what we call the Government Information Cell. This was to bring together all the specialists that you need to deliver modern high volume communications into one place so we could have a fast, coordinated, and effective UK Government Communications response.” – Alex Aiken

In a world where disinformation is rampant and synthetic media is an emerging threat, Alex emphasises the importance of compelling storytelling.

“I think that the absolutely central point is unless you can tell your story brilliantly, you will fall victim to disinformation. On the 24th of February 2022, I listened to Boris Johnson thinking through the challenges we faced... 'Putin must fail.' That is our policy. Putin must fail." And that in a sense is a story that we told then and a story we're telling now"​ – Alex Aiken

Furthermore, Alex discusses the potential of artificial intelligence, and how the UK government seeks to use it as a ‘force for good’.

“The London Summit recently had a whole range of countries around the world looking at the threats but also the opportunities. As the Government Communication Service, we are seeking to bring together all the plans, the strategies, the knowledge that we have and create a large language model where we can plug all that in" – Alex Aiken

Tune in to gain insights into the UK Government’s strategic communication frameworks, such as OASIS and PITCH, and much more.

Stream the episode on Spotify:

Watch the episode on YouTube:


Discussed in this episode:

  • The evolving role of government communication.
  • Impact of technology and the challenge of mis- and disinformation.
  • OECD's involvement in government communication.
  • UK Government’s strategic frameworks: OASIS and PITCH.
  • The importance of international collaboration.


Show notes:



A transcript of this episode can be found here.

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