Trusted voice: how government communications can gain trust in an era of misinformation

November 24, 2022
Digital & technology

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Trust in government communications has never been more important as leaders and officials need to send out vital public health messages during the coronavirus pandemic – and with the spread of variants and the delivery of booster vaccines, this trend is only going to continue.

However, government is now just one voice competing in a vast media ecosystem where social media can also amplify less credible and unverified sources.

This is having a number of consequences. People being influenced by misinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic may be less likely to follow advice intended to keep communities safe, while popular misconceptions or event conspiracy theories around the development of vaccines may hinder take up in many nations.

Some governments are already taking action to try and tackle this issue, with the UK government developing a Rapid Response Unit to tackle the spread of false information related to the pandemic, and developing a checklist intended to help educate people in the sources of online information.

This webinar looked at how the challenge of false information is growing, and what governments can do about it, sharing examples of best practice and successes from different governments around the world.


Alex Aiken, Executive Director, Government Communications, Government Communication Service (GCS), Cabinet Office, United Kingdom

Alex Aiken is an Executive Director for Government Communication. He is part of the senior leadership team in the Cabinet Office, with responsibility for developing communication capability and campaigns in international, national security and the nations and regions.

His responsibilities include the delivery of an effective national security communication capability as envisaged in the Integrated Review; a coherent approach to international campaigns and their domestic portrayal in terms of ‘Global Britain’; and the delivery of an effective campaign strategy for the Union.

His role supports the Chief Executive in leading and managing the GCS including advising on the development of the service, undertaking professional development activities for the profession, training, speaking and advising at events and writing on matters of communication practice domestically and overseas. He has trained and advised politicians and officials in countries and states around the world on communication strategy and practice.

He was appointed in December 2012 and was responsible for developing cross-government campaigns and creating the Government Communication Service (GCS). He served as GCS Head of Profession, responsible for government communication strategy, managing the combined Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office communications team until 2021.

Vivikka Richt, Director of Communications, Communications Unit, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Finland

Vivikka Richt is in charge of communications in Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland. As a Director of Communications, she is responsible of Ministry’s all organizational communications, including stakeholder relations, media relations, and nationwide campaigning. She is part of the board of all three Minister’s, and of the Ministry. She started working in the Ministry right after the start of COVID-19-pandemic, taking charge of Finland’s COVID-19-related communications at the moment in which the society was in the middle of a crisis.
Her background lies firmly in journalism, having studied it, graduated from the field of journalism and mass communication from University of Tampere, and worked as a journalist for Finnish Broadcasting Company for well over a decade, both in Finland, and as a foreign correspondent. After having completed her second degree (political communication) in University of Amsterdam, she moved from journalism to communications in 2010. During the last ten years she’s been active in developing new, more inclusive ways of communicating for the public sector.

Alexander Winterstein, Head of Unit, Communications Policy, General Affairs, Directorate-General for Competition, European Commission

Alexander studied law at Vienna University and at the College of Europe in Bruges. He practiced law in Vienna before joining DG Competition in 1998 where he held various positions, including Policy Advisor to two Directors-General and Head of unit. Beyond competition policy, he was on the Commission’s team following the 2002/2003 European Convention, was a Visiting Fellow at Yale University in 2011/2012, the Commission’s Deputy Chief Spokesperson from 2015 to mid-2019 and then the Spokesperson of the Austrian government until the beginning of 2020. Alexander then returned to DG Competition to steer a number of policy and communications projects, including the consultation and reflection process on the role of competition policy in support of the European Green Deal. He also runs DG Competition’s communications unit. He frequently speaks on both competition policy and communications issues.

Webinar chair: Mia Hunt, Editor, Global Government Forum

Mia has been Editor of since 2019. She is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been Market Reports and Supplements Editor at trade title Property Week and Deputy Editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and Tes Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge.

Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.