Foreign & Commonwealth Office

NixonMcInnes is working with the FCO on bringing digital into the heart of its day-to-day work supporting British nationals abroad.

The FCO’s Consular staff are the first port of call for Brits abroad when things go wrong, usually picking up the pieces and trying to help people when they are at their most vulnerable.

It’s a tough but essential job, and it’s carried out by dedicated staff in posts all over the world, as well as teams of desk officers in a round-the-clock operation in London.

Face-to-face, phone and email are already deeply embedded in the day-to-day work of Consular, but NixonMcInnes is now helping the FCO understand how to build social media into these established working practices.

This is about integration and efficiency as much as it is upskilling staff. Social media will be used to signpost people to the best possible channel for their query – whether that’s self-help via the website or face-to-face contact for on-the-ground emergency assistance.

Learning through innovation

To help realise this ambition, NixonMcInnes is working with the FCO on a series of pilot projects that start with staff in London. We are using the insights gained from each phase to design the next stage of the project, aiming to eventually roll out to the global network.

This iterative process allows us to learn through innovation while minimising risk.

So far the project has:
● Audited existing structures, guidance and skills around use of social media.
● Delivered new training and governance to build support and confidence.
● Designed new operating models, structures and groups to support the change.
● Launched a public facing pilot group of assistance staff, Tweeting to the public.

While focusing on business needs and drivers, we’re also keeping people and the culture at the FCO central to this project. Successful change requires understanding their needs, attitudes and behaviours, as well as the technology and processes that will help them successfully embed new ways of working.

We’re working collaboratively with the FCO’s existing Digital and Consular Communications team so that we can build capability, supporting organisational development and learning.

Making sure the right people get the right help when they need it, means knowing where and how to deliver it. This pilot project is the first stage in changing the way we work to make social media a central part of how we interact with our customers. NixonMcInnes have worked collaboratively with the FCO in creating bespoke training for our staff and we’ve been very impressed with the progress made.

Steve Jewitt-Fleet, Head Communications Consular Directorate