Effectiveness: A client judge's perspective

By Sharon Sawers

Head of Marketing, Strategy and Insight, The Home Office

Effectiveness is a hot topic for everyone working in Government communications. It has been for some time – long before the announcement about funding new health policies from the Department of Health's communication budget. It isn't new for politicians to promise to cut back on Government advertising spend. Or for the media to compare the combined Government advertising spend to the cost of building say, a new hospital wing. It certainly isn't new for Government departments to have to justify marketing expenditure to members of the public or Members of Parliament. Having to demonstrate effectiveness and value for money is not a new challenge. However, it is still my number one priority.

In today's economic climate, communication budgets are viewed by many as a luxury we can live without. In the private sector, a marketing director's biggest campaigning effort is often aimed at the board or the director of finance. It's no different in a large Government department, especially if there is a centralised marketing budget. In 2004, The Home Office made a smart move to centralise several smaller communication budgets into a central pot, which could then be allocated to strategic priorities. The central marketing pot is managed by experienced marketeers and evaluated to within an inch of its life (we have an IPA Effectiveness Award for Best Dedication to Effectiveness along with three golds). It made perfect business sense. Big savings and efficiencies immediately followed the decision.