Public bodies told to scale back publishing following Queen’s death

Cabinet Office internal communications guidance says “vast majority” of social media and GOV.UK output should be suspended

Credit: PA/Alamy

Departments and other public bodies have been told to stop publishing the “vast majority” of online content immediately following the death of the Queen.

The Cabinet Office has sent internal communications to public bodies, telling them to instead share content from the royal family throughout the period of mourning and only publish other content that is urgent.

The internal email, seen by CSW, was sent to public bodies after the Queen’s death on Thursday and before Liz Truss’ tribute.

It tells public bodies that any content published that is unrelated to the “Operation London Bridge” protocol which follows Elizabeth II’s death “should be conscious of tone and reflect the advice set out in official mourning guidance”.

Social media guidance

All planned social media should be suspended/unscheduled with immediate effect until after the end of the mourning period, the internal email says.

On social media, some communications that are not related to the Queen’s death may still be published, such as emergency statements, but only with clearance from directors of communications.

Officials are asked to get in touch with the Cabinet Office if they need further clarification on what they can post on social media.

Government departments, arms-length bodies and other public bodies have also been asked to update their social media profiles with “mourning banners”of Queen Elizabeth II. The guidance says the banners should remain in place throughout the period of mourning and that the Cabinet Office will notify bodies when they can be replaced.

Guidance for GOV.UK use

Content on GOV.UK relating to planned announcements, policy updates and campaigns are all suspended, the internal communication confirms.

This includes: press releases and news stories; policy documents; transparency data; and minor updates such as correcting typos.

Some communications not related to “Operation London Bridge” may still be published, such as critical factual updates like medical safety alerts, legally-required publishing like national statistics, and other necessary factual updates.

Any pre-scheduled releases that do not meet the above exemptions should be cancelled, the internal message says.

Only essential digital marketing campaigns should go ahead, with separate guidance to be issued by the Government Communication Service, the Cabinet Office said.

The email asks officials who need more information or clarification on what can or cannot be published to approach their director of communications and permanent secretary for advice.

Bodies with their own websites

The central GOV.UK site has added a black banner with dates of the Queen’s birth and death and a link to a special section to the top of all of its pages. 

Public bodies with websites not on GOV.UK can mirror this approach, deploying a banner similar in style, the email adds. 

Sam Trendall

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