Foreign Office blogs: a short history of UK government digital engagement


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Stephen Hale reflects on the history of blogging in the Foreign Office. As pioneers the Foreign Office often acted as a benchmark for other government departments developing practice in digital engagement and many of those originally involved have since gone on to develop strategies elsewhere in government.

If you were going to write a history of UK government digital engagement, you could do worse than start with the story of the Foreign Office blogs.I’m biased, but I think blogging at the Foreign Office has been a constant amid spikes of innovation elsewhere in the last few years.

The story happens to include walk-on parts for a lot of the people responsible for all those spikes. It has a starring role for Shane Dillon, who quietly moved on from his role corralling the FCO bloggers a few weeks ago.

The blogs have provided the ministers and officials who use them with a useful channel to discuss their work. And in doing so, they’ve created a model for other bits of government – and other governments – to copy.

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.

As we develop our digital engagement operation in DH, it’s handy that Foreign Office diplomats are providing a daily, living example that it can be done.

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