Strategic communication capability development
Submitting InstitutionLeeds Metropolitan University
Unit of AssessmentCommunication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management
Summary Impact TypePolitical
Research Subject Area(s)
Education: Education Systems
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration
Summary of the impact
The capability development model for Government Departments and civil
service communicators, designed by Anne Gregory for the UK Cabinet Office,
was adopted across Whitehall. This work includes continuing input into the
development of communication capability in Government. It has also
underpinned best-practice policy development in the Department of Health,
and is currently being applied across the NHS as well as being used in
local government and in the private sector. Overseas governments, NGOs and
private organisations as well as the Global Alliance (the international
confederation of PR and communication management associations) have all
adopted Gregory's approaches and recommendations on capability
The research in PR capability follows two linked strands: firstly, the
development of a model for strategic communications planning and second,
capability development more broadly (including training in the use of the
model) up to Board level in a range of organisations, particularly
government departments. This is being undertaken by the Centre for Public
Relations Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University, of which Professor
Gregory is Director.
The starting point was Gregory's identification of the lack of a
systematic approach to planning communication programmes and campaigns for
large organisations. The planning process model she developed, first
published in 1996, was underpinned by research which synthesised academic
and practitioner models, the academic literature and practice experience.
The resultant text was endorsed by the professional body, the Chartered
Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and is the most widely disseminated
book in a series of 17 published jointly by Kogan Page and the Chartered
Institute of Public Relations.
The founding research began in the mid-1990s, but accelerated when
Gregory proposed a structured approach to capability development to
Government. A secondment to the Cabinet Office resulted in 2004-2005 where
she led a team which developed the Government's capability framework,
Evolve, used across Whitehall. The research underpinning Evolve took a
grounded approach and included secondary and primary research into
capability and educational frameworks generally and then focused
specifically on communication education and training. The resulting model
embedded capability within a strategic process framework for communication
- unique at the time. In 2005 Gregory became an advisor to the Permanent
Secretary for Government Communication, after providing evidence to the
Phillis Review (2004) and delivered courses based on Evolve. A further
attachment to the Cabinet Office in 2012 resulted in the articulation of
academic accreditation for Government professional development leading to
Masters and Doctoral qualifications.
Between 2005-2007 the capability work was extended by the Department of
Health (DH) who funded research to adapt and extend Evolve. It involved
further primary research into the competencies needed by communicators in
the NHS. An additional piece of largely qualitative research investigating
`What Good Looks Like' in NHS Communication was commissioned in 2009 from
Gregory and her Leeds Met colleague, Paul Willis and underpins the Good
Practice policy document `The Communicating Organisation' (TCO) issued by
DH in 2009 to all NHS organisations. This was supplemented by conceptual
research in 2010 on metrics to evaluate organisational performance in
communication. In 2011-12, Gregory, on attachment to DH, completed primary
research using the principles of TCO to frame communication capability
requirements in the wake of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
In parallel to these activities Gregory has taken an active role with the
national and global professional associations. In 2004 she was President
of the CIPR and in June 2013 she became Chair of the Global Alliance (GA),
the confederation of professional associations worldwide. In 2010 she was
responsible for co-developing the Stockholm Accords, an action-research
led, global benchmark for the profession and in 2012 co-developed the
Melbourne Mandate, an advocacy platform for the profession, which was
again action-research led. These initiatives have been used by
professional bodies, organisations, and NGOs internationally as a
benchmark for inclusion in their own capability programmes.
References to the research
Gregory, A. (1996) Planning and Managing a Public Relations Campaign,
1st Edition, London: Kogan Page (submitted in 2001 RAE). 3rd edition
published in 2010.
Gregory, A. (2006) A development framework for Government communicators.
Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp 197 - 210
submitted in 2007 RAE)
Gregory, A. (2008) The competencies of senior practitioners in the UK: an
initial study, Public Relations Review. Vol. 34, No. 3, pp. 215 -
Gregory, A. (2011). The Status of the Public Relations Profession in the
UK: a review of the first decade of the 21st century. Corporate
Communication: An International Journal, Vol. 16. No. 2, pp. 89 - 104.
Willis, P. and McKie, D. (2011). Outsourcing public relations pedagogy:
Lessons from innovation, management futures, and stakeholder
participation. Public Relations Review. 37(5), pp. 466-469.
Jointly awarded the National Communication Association 2012 PRIDE Award
for Outstanding Contribution to Public Relations Education as contributing
author to the 2011 Special Issue on Pedagogy in Public Relations Review.
Gregory, A. (2012). UK government communications: full circle in the 21st
century? Public Relations Review, Vol. 38. No. 3, pp. 167-175
Gregory, A. and Willis, P. (2013). Strategic Public Relations
Leadership. Routledge: Abingdon, UK.
Details of the impact
The impact of this body of work has been far-reaching. The book on
strategic planning was the first of a series of 17 published by Kogan Page
and the CIPR — edited by Gregory. Since 1996, it has been the core text in
strategic planning for the CIPR's professional courses taught in the UK
and overseas, and a recommended text for the CIPR's 57 approved UK
University courses. It has been translated into 10 different languages,
including Chinese. A shortened version of the book forms the basis of a
chapter in Europe's best selling edited textbook on public relations
(Tench and Yeomans, 2008). Professional-body approval denotes that
strategic planning is recognised as a corner-stone of practitioner
competence. In addition, as President of the CIPR, Gregory led the
Institute to Chartered status with professional development being a
mainstay of the application to the Privy Council. In recognition of this
work she was awarded the Sir Stephen Tallents medal in 2009 for her
outstanding contribution to the profession, one of only 30 ever recipients
of this honour.
Secondly, following the work done with the Cabinet Office in 2004-2005,
all Whitehall Departments reframed their approach to communication
capability development. While the original version of Evolve has been
superseded, the most recent iteration (March 2013) was reviewed by Gregory
and returned to the process approach first designed by her in 2005. The
courses on Strategic Communication and Stakeholder Engagement developed
for the Cabinet Office and delivered by the Centre for PR Research (Leeds
Met) from 2004 became part of the core offering for Government Departments
until it was taken over by the National School for Government on the basis
of cost in 2009. As a result there has been a notable up-skilling and
upgrading of the communication function in a number of them, for example,
the Departments of Work and Pensions, Health, Transport and Her Majesty's
Revenues and Customs. A number of Ministries commissioned the Centre to
deliver bespoke sessions for them, including Scottish Office, DEFRA,
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Welsh Office. Gregory, on
attachment to the Cabinet Office in 2012, benchmarked their CPD courses
for academic accreditation which lays the ground for them being part of a
full Masters, with the framework allowing study up to doctoral level.
In 2013, Gregory was appointed by the Cabinet Office as a communication
capability Reviewer of Government Departments and was also one of five
Livechat Panelists (including the Executive Director of Government
Communication) launching the Government Communication Service, the
successor to the Government Communication Network.
Thirdly, the impact of work done for the DH has been extensive. NHS
Evolve (developed 2005- 2006) provided a web-based capability framework,
purpose built for the NHS and developed from the Cabinet Office research.
An enhancement was research on the specific competencies of senior
communicators which formed the basis of the first paper on communicator
competencies (Gregory, 2008) published in the field's foremost academic
The research underpinning the DH Best Practice policy document, TCO,
issued to all NHS organisations has been the subject of academic and
practitioner conferences around the world, including in Europe,
Scandinavia, South Africa, Australasia and the World Public Relations
Forum in Stockholm in 2010 where Gregory was a plenary speaker with Klaus
Schwab of the World Economic Forum and Professor Mervyn King. This
capability research was drawn together in a co- authored book by Gregory
and Willis (2013) which is the world's first on public relations
leadership. TCO remains the communication policy guide in the NHS and
formed part of the Authorisation process for Clinical Commissioning Groups
in 2013. Its principles are currently being used by the Trust Development
Authority to assess Trusts aspiring to Foundation status. The content has
also been adapted for a range of different professional audiences
including communicators from local government and the private sector.
The research underpinned a closed Masters programme in Strategic
Communication for the NHS which ran from 2009 - 2012 (withdrawn since the
changes in the system). It drew delegates from up to Board level and was
delivered using an innovative co-creation methodology (see Willis &
McKie, 2012). Three graduates from the programme moved onto the NHS Top
Leaders programme for future CEOs. The Centre for Public Relations
Research also secured the NHS pilot Graduate Trainee Scheme in
The work done to date has led to the Centre being involved in the
development and delivery of on-going Executive development programmes for
UK local authorities and private sector firms, the South African
Government (recently secured in association with the University of
Pretoria as partner), Swedish Institute of Public Relations (Professional
body) and leadership development for the New Zealand professional body.
The impact of the research with the Global Alliance has also been
significant. The principles behind the Stockholm Accords and Melbourne
Mandate initiatives have been embedded in professional body curricula
across the world, therefore every practitioner who takes a professional
qualification benefits from Gregory's research. Global Alliance represents
160,000 working practitioners worldwide.
Sources to corroborate the impact
Details for Individual Named Sources are supplied separately by the
identifiers listed below.
- Executive Director for Government Communication, the Cabinet Office UK
(Identifer 1) corroborates the work undertaken for the Cabinet office.
- Corroboration for the work undertaken for the Department of Health can
be obtained from the Director of Communications, NHS CSU South
- Further corroboration for the work undertaken for the Department of
Health can be obtained from the Former Director of Communications for
the NHS (Identifier 3)
- Identifier 4 is a source of corroboration for work undertaken for the
South African Government.
- For the impact on the Global Alliance, the former Chair of the
organisation is a corroborating source (Identifier 5).
- Evidence presented to the Phillis Review, see Phillis R. 2004. An
independent review of Government Communications. The Stationery Office:
- Gregory, A. (2011) The Capability Requirements for Communicators in
the `new' NHS. Report commissioned by the Department of Health.
- The Communicating Organisation at