Reflecting on the experiences of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, this OECD working paper illustrates selected international trends that are driving innovation in the practice of public communication across the OECD to make it more inclusive, responsive and compelling. These include advanced uses of 'big data' and analytics to power precise, targeted communication, collaboration with trusted third-party messengers in diverse communities, and the application of behavioural insights (BI) to communication. In turn, these trends can help promote the use of public communication for policy, openness and dialogue. The paper reflects on the implications of these international trends for four countries in Southeast Asia, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. It looks at local lessons from the pandemic response and identifies avenues for adopting global good practices more widely. The paper focuses on a set of institutional prerequisites, including fostering a culture of innovation in public communication mandates and approaches, ensuring access to specialised skillsets, and strengthening ethical guidance in the use of new technologies and BI.