Tapping into talent in the communications industry

The new Communications Services framework has proved extremely popular with suppliers, resulting in a number of small businesses signing up to work with government for the first time. Government Business looks at the agreement in more detail

Communication Services provides a new and improved way to buy a variety of marketing and communications services, supporting a wider, centralised approach to communications. Co-developed by the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and the Government Communication Service (GCS), the procurement was undertaken following extensive engagement with industry partners, trade bodies, customers and key departments, to deliver a streamlined, up-to-date and compliant contracting solution for government and the public sector. The framework has been designed to facilitate collaborative working.

The GCS published the list of communications agencies that have been selected to help deliver ground-breaking government and public sector campaigns over the next four years earlier this month. Of the 67 agencies selected for the new framework, 69 per cent are small or medium-sized businesses (SMEs), 22 are based outside of London and 44 are new to government business. These companies will now be eligible to bid and play key roles in cutting edge campaigns on topics ranging from public health to armed forces recruitment and promoting apprenticeships.

Communicating the benefits
The Communications Services framework complements the Campaign Solutions framework announced in December, which is designed for longer term, strategic campaigns. Designed to to help public bodies tap into the very best expertise and talent in the communications industry, the two frameworks provide a flexible approach to working collaboratively with agencies to design and deliver innovative solutions for your campaigns.

Campaign Solutions offers a choice of 27 agencies, half of which are SMEs, who will be able to design, plan and deliver entire campaigns.

David Skinner, CCS’s Director of Corporate Solutions said: “A wide variety of innovative, exciting and talented agencies are now on the framework, including many small businesses. This will provide public sector bodies with the tailored, specialist and flexible advice they need to develop cutting edge campaigns.”

Both frameworks were developed in conjunction with GCS. GCS involved around 600 agencies and ran five events across the country to shape the new frameworks in a way that will work better for everyone and benefit UK citizens. In this financial year the GCS is expected to deliver around 100 campaigns.

The Communication Services framework agreement offers a number of benefits to both suppliers and buyers. Benefits include: flexibility and choice - lot structure and the diversity of agencies gives scope for flexible competitions for central government and wider public sector customers; access to a wide range of agencies with the best quality expertise to deliver innovative, best practice marketing and communications services for government and the public sector; 44 of the agencies are new to working with government and will contribute to driving innovation in government campaigns; SME inclusion - the majority of agencies on the framework are SMEs and seven are micro organisations, supporting the government’s commitment to economic growth, continuing to drive innovation in government campaigns; competitive rates agreed at framework competition to ensure customers get the best value for money; and standardised terms and conditions that have been pre-agreed with agencies - with flexibility built in for customers.

Examining the Lots
The agreement is split into 11 lots: Lot 1 - Specialist Consultancy Services; Lot 2 - Events; Lot 3 - Channel Strategy and Planning; Lot 4 - Public Relations (Specialist and Regional); Lot 5 - Proposition Development; Lot 6 - Creative Development and Delivery; Lot 7 - Digital Marketing and Social Media; Lot 8 - Data Strategy and Management; Lot 9 - Production; Lot 10 - Editorial; and Lot 11 - International.

Lot 1, covering specialist consultancy services, enables agencies and specialists to offer new and innovative communications ideas and consultancy on subjects including: thought leadership; behavioural science; neuroscience; audience specialists (e.g. youth, regional, Black and Minority ethnic, etc); and international marketing and country branding.

Agencies are also able to deliver a wide range of events services from strategic and tactical event programme management to supply of event equipment through Lot 2. This may include: strategic event programme design and management; management of and liaison with VIP; management of foreign dignitaries; delivery and support for UK and international State visits; management of mobile exhibition units, including at high profile events; development of event content; event production; roadshows; seminars; event, exhibition and conference design and production; display stands and similar equipment; event media build services; project planning and management; management of paying events, including financial reconciliation; budgetary management; delegate acquisition and delegate management services; provision of on-site resource to manage and co-ordinate events; venue sourcing, contracting and management; security, translation/transcription and host broadcasting services; customer relationship management (CRM); sponsorship activation and management; risk management; processing of grant payments; design and installation of audio visual systems for events of varying sizes; management of audio visual systems for events of varying sizes; provision of laptops, tablet computers, touch screen style devices, portable display stands and similar equipment; and international events.

Through Lot 3 agencies are capable of translating communications strategy into, and producing, actionable, effective, cost efficient and measurable communications channel plans across all relevant channels, including online, offline, owned and earned, as well as paid-for. This may include: providing detailed media recommendations; building audience models using client and industry data; using data and analytics to justify investment decisions; developing channel recommendations in light of both audience data and creative content fit with channel; briefing our media buying partner to the standard Government Communication Service format; and enabling government departments to sponsor and promote content beyond traditional bought media across a number of channels and digital platforms.

Lot 4, concerning public relations, provides the opportunity for agencies are to offer public relations services and products either as a sole service element or bringing together different elements into one sustained campaigning approach. These service may be required on a regional or specialist basis and may include: the development of public relations themes, strategies, plans and tactics across relevant campaigns; regional or specific sector or specific audience insight and expertise; the implementation of campaign public relations activity, online and offline; message definition and articulation; press release writing and distribution; content development; user communities; reputation management; crisis planning and communications; management of key opinion leaders; and management of interaction with relevant journalists and media channels.

Proposition development is the subject of Lot 5, in which agencies are able to produce concepts and communications propositions across all channel options, developing and testing new communications ideas prior to production. This may include: the development of creative propositions, inclusive of relevant research; creative development across both art and copy; and development of identities, core messages and values.

Lot 6, covering creative development and delivery, dictates that agencies are able to provide a full design service across all types of project. This may include: creative direction and management; developing design concepts suitable across all media channels; developing brand propositions, inclusive of relevant research; designing brand identity; defining brand values; developing/producing multi-channel brand guidelines; typesetting, proofing and pagination; and liaison with printers.

Detailing digital marketing and social media, agencies are capable of providing digital marketing services and products via Lot 7. In addition to the creation of specific products, the agency shall be capable of managing all aspects of production for all digital platforms. This may include: web design, development and build; content creation and management; digital advertising; Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS); Search Engine Optimisation (SEO); usability testing; social media execution/implementation; viral marketing; and electronic Customer Relationship Management (eCRM) and solutions.

Lot 8, covering data strategy and management, enables agencies to provide data services. This may include: data strategy development; data development; database management; data analytics and modelling; and campaign management.

In the production focus of Lot 9, agencies are able to offer development and production services on a standalone basis. Agencies are invited to bid based on capability to produce one or more of the following: moving picture and video (TV, cinema, viral etc); sound; out-of-home advertising; stock imagery - sourcing; digital media - advertising; other channels where appropriate and as required; and animation and motion graphics.

Lot 10, encompassing editorial, allows agencies to provide a wide range of editorial services across multiple media, and may include: copywriting for advertising; copy production for leaflets, booklets, annual reports and other related items; copy checking; and technical writing for specialist audiences.

Agencies are able to deliver communications campaigns overseas through Lot 11, including in major economic markets and areas where the media landscape is limited or nonexistent. Sectors may include trade, inward investment, education, tourism and public diplomacy. Services may include, but are not limited to those services listed above under the following lots: Lot 2: Events; Lot 4: Public relations (on an international rather than domestic basis); Lot 5: Proposition development; Lot 6: Creative development and delivery; Lot 7: Digital marketing and social media (on an international rather than domestic basis); and Lot 10: Editorial.

Campaign Solutions
Campaign Solutions is an innovative marketing and communications framework covering the services you will need for end-to-end campaigns. It is a single lot agreement that includes a broad range of agencies with different specialisms to help you tap into the very best expertise and talent in the communications industry. The new approach is more flexible than before and allows you to work collaboratively with your agency to encourage innovative solutions to your campaign.

There are 27 agencies on the framework and CCS has identified different areas each agency has a specialism in. All agencies hired through this framework will be able to design, plan and execute entire campaigns, with half of the agencies being SMEs, further ensuring they have a real opportunity to compete for government and public sector business, in line with the government’s SME agenda.

Campaign buying can be complex and costly but this agreement can reduce the time and costs associated with the procurement by offering a facility that has already been competitively tendered, representing a shift from traditionally prescriptive campaign buying to a solutions focussed approach, encouraging innovative approaches for your campaign.

The objective of the agreement is to provide a selection of agencies in a single lot who offer a variety of quality services, drive innovation and deliver savings. The benefits of identifying specialisms rather than splitting the framework into lots is that your requirement can cover more than one specialism in a single further competition. The six specialisms covered are: strategy development; creative for campaigns; digital marketing and social media; public relations; direct marketing; and partnership marketing.

Please register to comment on this article