The first OECD Report on Public Communication: The Global Context and the Way Forward
examines the public communication structures, mandates and practices of centres of
governments and ministries of health from 46 countries, based on the 2020 Understanding
Public Communication surveys. It analyses how this important government function contributes
to better policies and services, greater citizen trust, and, ultimately, stronger
democracies in an increasingly complex information environment. It looks at the role
public communication can play in responding to the challenges posed by the spread
of mis- and disinformation and in building more resilient media and information ecosystems.
It also makes the case for a more strategic use of communication by governments, both
to pursue policy objectives and promote more open governments, by providing an extensive
mapping of trends, gaps and lessons learned. Finally, it highlights pioneering efforts
to move towards the professionalisation of the government communication function and
identifies areas for further research to support this transition.
5 key principles for effective public communication
1. Empower the public communication function by setting appropriate mandates and developing strategies to guide the delivery of communication in the service of policy objectives and of the open government principles of transparency, integrity, accountability and stakeholder participation; and separating it, to the extent possible, from political communication.
2. Institutionalise and professionalise communications units to have sufficient capacity, including by embedding the necessary skills and specialisations that are leading the transformation of the field, and ensuring adequate human and financial resources.
3. Transition towards a more informed communication, built around measurable policy objectives and grounded in evidence, through the acquisition of insights in the behaviours, perceptions, and preferences of diverse publics, and the evaluation of its activities against impact metrics.
4. Seize the potential of digital tech but responsibly: Digital tools, data, and AI can facilitate greater engagement and inclusion if used ethically and with respect for privacy.
5. Fight mis and disinformation. Government must be equipped to pre-empt and debunk mis and disinformation through clear practice and guidelines.