Getting diplomats blogging for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

British diplomats have interesting stories to tell. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has been practising ‘digital diplomacy’ for over decade now, and features some of the UK government’s most prolific and effective users of social media.

A cornerstone of its strategy has been the ‘Global Conversations’ blog platform. When we first got involved, this already had around 50 senior diplomats sharing their ringside observations on global history in the making. But maintaining the platform was awkward. Adding new bloggers took time, and it was hard to feature the best or most topical contributions.

We helped the team migrate to WordPress, transferring over thousands of posts and comments, rebuilding templates in clean, accessible HTML and making it easier to visualise the bloggers on a map and publish in a range if languages, from Ukrainian to Vietnamese.

We also gave the team tools to curate posts into ‘collections’, highlighting their best material from the USA, by ministers or in Arabic. Despite big cuts in staff, the FCDO team now manages to run more blogs than before – now up to 100 or so – and keep them feeling fresh and co-ordinated.

We redeveloped the platform subsequently, introducing more flexibility to run group and guest blogs, better internationalisation capability and a new, cleaner style closed to platforms like Medium, to focus attention on the compelling writing of the bloggers.

Project Outcomes

The FCDO platform has built up contributions from over 400 bloggers – most regular contributors, rather than guests – who have published over 7,000 individual posts since 2009.

As this summary of the history of the platform shows, there’s been an interesting cultural shift in how diplomats view digital engagement partly driven by the blogs:

In particular, the Foreign Office blogs have demonstrated that government officials can participate freely online in an official capacity as part of their work. The blogs are not an add-on, they have become a routine part of what British diplomats do.

How could we help you?

Talk to us informally about how we approach this kind of work, ballpark budgets and timescales - or just to help you refine your brief: email hello@helpfuldigital.com