Back to the Future: Lessons from the Future of External Channels White Paper

I recently learned about a new tool where you can create a picture from scratch. Yep, you heard me right. I asked it to give me a photo of a lion wearing a birthday hat and having a bath. A few seconds later, there it was. I was both stunned and excited. This is the future, and it is here.

Technology like this, the Metaverse, AI and more open a whole wave of opportunities. Just think of how much time we could save not hunting down random stock photos?

But where does this leave the old-school vinyl of communications?

The Future of External Channels White Paper digs deep into this very question. Focusing on real-life case studies and best practice examples, it examines how our go-to comms channels are evolving, looks at how traditional tactics are successfully being digitally remastered and gazes into the crystal ball to ask: what’s next?

Here are my top three lessons:

Old channels, new solutions

While new methods and comms tactics emerge daily, few public sector communicators are deserting the old ones. Many will still reach for the same traditional tools that have always served them well. Why? They still work.

During the pandemic, there was an urgent need to reach people quickly. Go-to channels like social media allowed announcements to be shared instantly, direct mailouts offered a way to guarantee information would land in people’s homes and websites provided a place to funnel thousands of bits of information, averaging over a million page views a month in Lewisham. These traditional channels proved their weight in gold, but not without some help.

Digital remastering has helped them stay relevant in the modern world. Take Richmond Council, which used SoCrowd to understand its social media channels better to develop a well-defined content strategy. In Brent, digital JCDecaux boards allowed messages about surge testing to be uploaded in seconds, cutting out the guy with a ladder and wallpaper paste.

Many will reach for the traditional comms tools that have always served them well. Why? They still work.

Don’t be afraid of the future

This leads me to my next lesson, don’t be afraid of the future. There are many ways the public sector can embrace emerging technologies like the Metaverse and Web3 to deepen and improve our engagement with residents.

For example, by teaming up with specialist VR provider Digital Urban, Surrey County Council engaged a younger audience on a town centre consultation. Hull Council also rose to the challenge, using Augmented Reality to add fairies and dinosaurs to their parks to encourage families to spend more time outside. Internationally, the boundaries are being pushed even further. Abba Voyage, need I say more?


What these channels, both old and new, offer is a way to attract attention, increase engagement and ultimately get your message to more people. But this is all for nothing unless you have good content to back it up. The world is oversaturated with information, so creating high-quality content relevant to your target audience audiences is crucial if you want to stand out amongst the crowd.

These are just three of my personal reflections. There are many more insights and case studies in the White Paper. Take a look and get involved… don’t be shy!

Sophie Leer is Strategy Lead (Communications) at Brent Council. She is a current LGcomms Future Leader and a contributor to the White Paper.


Lunch and learn webinar on crisis communications

LGcomms response to the death of PRCA Director General Francis Ingham


Leave a Comment