Podcast 87: B2B content for the public sector

Creating effective content for the public sector is a delicate balance between logic and emotion. We talk to leading marketers and find out how it’s done.

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The public sector isn’t like any other B2B audience. The people, the practices, and the motivations are very different – and there are whole ecosystems of sectors within sectors. So how do you avoid creating marketing content that’s tone deaf, and publish something that actually works?

In this special edition of Good Copy, Bad Copy, we go pretty deep to find out. We dive headfirst into the world of B2B public sector content, with not one, not two, but three interviewees, alongside other contributions from leading marketers and anonymous public sector buyers.

First up is Raine Hunt, marketing and communications director for NHS Shared Business Services – a joint venture between the Department of Health and the IT company Sopra Steria. As someone who’s part of the NHS, but also markets to NHS organisations, Raine’s double role gives her a wealth of insights into the biggest challenges you’ll face when creating public sector content.

Later, we’re joined by Hannah Marques and Mike Wilkinson of CACI Ltd, who won the B2B Marketing Award for Best Use of Content Marketing for the emotionally-led “Walk in their Shoes” campaign, addressing the youth justice sector. They talk about the power of content that helps a public sector audience to tell their own compelling story – underpinning emotion with logical, data-backed messages.

We also share valuable contributions from Microsoft public sector marketing lead Shona Wright, and experienced public sector marketer Lynn File.

And last, but by no means least, an anonymous director at an NHS trust spills the beans on which marketing goes straight in the bin, reveals what a bad day at the office looks like, and explains why they hate receiving content that’s aimed at local authorities.

Public sector content: takeaways, tips and advice

Here are just a few of the nuggets we gleaned from our guests in this episode:

  • There’s no one public sector. Although there’s a loose categorisation, every service is different – and each require a different vocabulary and messaging. Usually, you can’t speak to a local council in the same way you would to a police force. The NHS alone houses dozens of different sub-sectors.
  • Research, research, research. As with any B2B marketing content, it’s critical to know exactly who your audience is, the challenges they face, and how you can help them do their job. Even within organisations, there’s a world of different job roles, each requiring its own approach.
  • Use the correct language, correctly. The best public sector content carefully balances emotive content with a rational business case. In both cases, speaking the right language is the key to being taken seriously. But don’t scatter terms willy-nilly, or be glib about challenges you don’t understand. This audience can spot phoney engagement a mile away.

Public vs private sector content: what’s the difference?

Turns out, quite a lot. With a little input from Microsoft’s Shona Wright, and Brand Innovation’s Lynn File, George takes a look at how marketing to the two sectors varies – and where crossovers exist.

Take a listen to find out:

  • How customer experience expectations are shifting, and how the public sector can keep up
  • Why the internal processes and timelines in each sector are so different, and how that impacts content creation
  • What local authorities and organisations can learn from the digital disruption of the retail industry

(He’s also working on a longer article for us about this very topic, so keep an eye out.)

The Anonymous Five: Director, NHS Trust

This month’s “Anonymous Five” interview packs quite a punch. Our hardest-hitting yet, the interview offers a glimpse into the life of a director at an NHS Trust.

They tell us the best (and worst) pieces of marketing aimed at the NHS, explain why “service user” is the least-bad way to describe customers, and provide a humbling glimpse into their worst working days.

Thank you, anonymous director, for your time. We’ve sent a donation to your charity of choice: Refugee Action.

Here’s what you’ll find in episode 87…

2.42 – Raine Hunt offers a unique perspective on marketing inside the NHS

20.01 – Hannah Marques and Mike Wilkinson from CACI Ltd discuss emotion-led content

30.41 – We unpack the key lessons from our interviews

38.07 – George shares top content tips from leading public sector marketers

48.44 – The Anonymous Five: The life of an NHS trust director

Send us your feedback, thoughts, and deepest, darkest secrets…

Contact us through @radixcom on Twitter or podcast@radix-communications.com (if you want to be our favourite listener, send us a voice memo).

How to listen 


A massive thank you to our wonderful interviewees, contributors, and anonymous public sector spies for taking the time out of your busy schedules to talk to us. We hope you’re happy with the results.

Podcast editing and music by Bang and Smash

Lizzie Cresswell

When you need short-form content that’s snappy, informed, and understands its audience to a tee – you can count on Lizzie to deliver. And as a perfectionist with a keen eye for detail, she’s quickly become one of our most trusted proof-readers. When she’s not writing another winning ABM campaign, you’ll likely find her trekking the Cornish coast.

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