Public Service Communications Academy 2020

The 2020 edition will take place, in a fully online setting, from Tuesday 24 November to Thursday 26 November 2020. Organised by LGcomms and the Government Communication Service (GCS), the event offers a mix of learning, expert speakers, networking, practical training and interactive sessions for communications professionals at all career levels.

This year Academy stretches over three days, giving delegates maximum flexibility to incorporate their participation in a way that best suits their busy working days and areas of interest.

For only £100, LGcomms member delegates get full access to the more than 20 sessions, webinars and plenaries on offer, and can ‘dip in and out’ as suitable.

There will also be plenty of opportunities for virtual networking through our event platform HOPIN which allows users to set up their own delegate profiles.

In year that has seen communications professionals deliver results under intense pressure, this is a unique opportunity to appreciate our industry’s achievements and build for the future.

Cost and booking

LGcomms member: £100 per person for access to the whole Academy

Non-member: £200 per person

Please note that an LGcomms membership is just £250+VAT per year for your whole organisation.

About the programme

This year’s Academy focuses on six areas of professional practice crucial for public sector communicators to continue to be effective in future: Unified, digital, direct, data driven, skilled, diverse and inclusive.

  • Unified – Collaborating across traditional boundaries to deliver integrated campaigns and communications. 
  • Digital – Designing creative and accessible digital communications and leading digital innovation.
  • Direct – Making powerful connections with our audiences through direct communication channels and tools.  
  • Data-Driven – Applying data to engage our audiences and deliver measurable outcomes. 
  • Skilled – Going the extra mile to improve professional standards, develop and future-proof our skills and the skills of other communicators.
  • Diverse and Inclusive – Committing to fostering diversity and inclusion and building community cohesion through inclusive communications. 

*Programme as of 20 October 2020

Day 1: Tuesday 24 November 2020

TimeThemeSessionSpeaker(s) / Panel Members
09.00 – 09.10Welcome and introduction to the eventAlix Macfarlane, Chair, LGcomms
09.10 – 9.25Unified, Digital, Direct, Data-Driven, SkilledOpening address: The future of our professionAlex Aiken, Executive Director for Government Communications
09.25- 10.00Unified, Digital, Direct, Data-Driven, SkilledHow Covid-19 has changed public sector communicationClaire Pimm, Director, National Resilience Communications Hub, Prime Minister's Office and Cabinet Office Communications

Eleri Roberts, Birmingham CC

Alix Macfarlane, Chair, LGcomms
10.00 – 10.15Break
10.15 – 11.15Data-Driven, SkilledUsing behavioural science to create world class campaignsAbigail Emery, Acting Head of Behavioural Science, Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office

David Watson, Deputy Director of Communication & Marketing, Department for International Trade

Rebecca Benn, Senior Business Partner (Communications) at NHS Digital
11.15 – 11.30Break
11.30 – 12.30Digital, DirectDigital & Direct: Introducing the first Hybrid House of Commons and remote votingAlice Jennings and Claire Holmes, House of Commons Communications Directors
12.30 – 13.00Lunch break
13.00 – 14.00Unified, SkilledBuilding local brands
14.00 -14.15Break
14.15 – 15.15Unified, DirectExternal Affairs: Covid Advisory Panel ReportStephen Waddington, Managing Partner, Wadds Inc.

Mandy Pearse, Director, Seashell Communications

Chris Daly, Chief Executive, CIM

Francis Ingham, Director General, PRCA & Executive Director, LGcomms
15.15 – 15.30Break
15.30 – 16.30Unified, Diverse and InclusivePanel discussion: Diversity and InclusionPoli Stuart Lacey, Director of Communications, HM Revenue & Customs and GCS D&I Lead

Florence Obinna, Consultation & Engagement Manager
Dan Beagle, Senior Consultation Officer, London Borough of Hackney
16.30 – 16.45Break
16.45 – 17.30Unified, Diverse and InclusivePanel discussion: Maintaining our resilience through the pandemicKoray Carngoz, Director of Communications and Marketing, PRCA

Matt Dolman, Senior Communications Manager, GCS Flex Team

Sara Vogt, Deputy Director, Corporate Communications, MOJ

Georgia Turner, Head of Communications and Marketing, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council

Day 2: Wednesday 25 November 2020

TimeThemeSessionSpeaker(s) / Panel Members
09.00 – 10:00Digital, SkilledWorld-class digital capabilityPeter Heneghan, Deputy Director of Digital,
Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office Communications
10.00 - 10.15Break
10.15 - 11.15SkilledThe role of communications in tackling climate change issuesCraig Woodhouse, Director of Communications, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy

Kate Horner, Deputy Director – Head of Campaigns, Partnerships & Brand, COP26, Cabinet Office
11.15 – 11.30Break
11.30 – 12.30Skilled, Diverse and InclusiveThe role the communications professional as the ‘fixer’ with influence across an organisation#colspan#Claudine Munro-Lafon, Deputy Director, Strategic Communications, HMRC

Mark Fletcher-Brown, Director, Reputation Counsel
12.30 – 13.00Lunch break
13.00 – 14.00Direct, Data-DrivenCovid-19: Communications in a pandemicAlice Pelliccia-Bourke, Senior Campaigns and Stakeholder Manager, Prime Minister's Office and Cabinet Office Communications

Sarah Rochester, Service Manager, Communications and Marketing, Aberdeenshire Council
14.00 -14.15Break
14.15 – 15.15Digital, Data-DrivenThe Inclusive Economy Partnership: national and local recovery and renewalShevaun Haviland, Deputy Director, Business Partnerships Team, Cabinet Office
15.15 – 15.30Break
15.30 – 16.30Skilled, Data-Driven, Diverse and inclusiveInternal communicationsRussell Grossman, Director of Communications, Office of Rail & Road, Head of Government Internal Communications Profession

Harriet Small, Internal Communications Lead, Hackney London Borough, the role of internal communication in diversity and inclusion
16.30 – 16.45Break
16.45 – 17.30Digital, Data-DrivenDigital campaigns: low cost/no cost basicsDarren Caveney, Founder of Comms2Point0

Day 3: Thursday 26 November 2020

TimeThemeSessionSpeaker(s) / Panel Members
09.00 – 10.00SkilledCreating crisis communications strategiesCreating crisis communications strategies
10.00 - 10.15Break
10.15 - 11.15Digital, Direct, Diverse and InclusiveSocial media: ways to make an impactKatie Williamson-Walsh, Response Lead, Rapid Response Unit, Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office Communications (Countering Disinformation with the Rapid Response Unit)
11.15 – 11.30Break
11.30 – 12.30Data-Driven, Skilled, Diverse and InclusiveAudience segmentationTom Carney, Deputy Director, EU Exit Communications
12.30 – 13.00Lunch break
13.00 – 14.00Unified, Digital, Direct, Data-Driven, Skilled, Diverse and InclusiveThe Public Service Communications 2020 AwardsAlex Aiken, Executive Director for Government Communications
14.00 -14.15Break
14.15 – 15.15Skilled, Data-DrivenQuantifying the impact and benefits of our workRichard Bagnell, Co-Managing Partner & CEO of Europe & Americas, CARMA
and Chairman, AMEC


Catherine Hunt, Head of Insight and Evaluation, Government Communication Service
15.15 – 15.30Break
15.30 – 16.15Unified, Diverse and InclusiveDigital campaigns: Best practice accessibilityChristina Mallon, Head of Inclusive Design, Wunderman Thompson

Stephanie Hill, Digital Content Producer, Professional Standards team, Cabinet Office Communications

16.15 – 16.30Break
16.30 – 17.20Unified, Skilled, Diverse and InclusivePanel discussion: What makes a good communications leader?Alex Aiken, Executive Director for Government Communications

Amrita Devaiah, Head of External Affairs and Engagement, Cabinet Office

Richard Etienne, Deputy Head of Internal Communications & BAME Network Co-Chair, Department for International Trade

Polly Cziok, Director of Communications, Culture, and Engagement - London Borough of Hackney
Alix Macfarlane, LGcomms Chair
17.20 – 17.30Closing RemarksFrancis Ingham, Director General, PRCA & Executive Director, LGcomms

About the Public Service Communications Academy

The Public Service Communications Academy (Comms Academy) is a well-established annual event for public sector communicators from across the country to come together, develop key skills and share ideas, with a focus on low and no-cost campaigns. Organised by LGcomms, and the Government Communication Service (GCS), the event offers a mix of learning, expert speakers, networking, practical training and interactive sessions for communications professionals at all career levels.

The event is supported by the PRCA and the Local Government Association (LGA).