Voluntary Sector - Young artists express themselves

Campaign: LifeSupport Change Through Art

Artistic work: young artists
Artistic work: young artists

Client: YouthNet and The Citi Foundation
PR team: YouthNet in-house
Timescale: January-May 2010
Budget: £15,050

The LifeSupport Change Through Art competition was launched by YouthNet and funding body The Citi Foundation in January. Young people aged 16 to 25 were invited to submit a short film, illustration or photograph to express how the recession had affected them and their communities.


- To create a way for young people's views and experiences to appear in the media

- To raise awareness of the partnership between YouthNet and The Citi Foundation

- To generate coverage of YouthNet and The Citi Foundation

- To promote and drive traffic to YouthNet's advice and guidance website, TheSite.org.

Strategy and plan

The competition was launched with a press release to youth, creative, regional and local media. Once launched, YouthNet and digital agency Beautiful World undertook a range of offand online promotional activities to encourage entries to the competition.

The media team sent press releases to mark one month until the closing date.

A panel of eight artists and experts including vlogger Charlie McDonnell, Aardman animation director Nigel Davies and Guardian features picture editor Sarah Gilbert was put together to judge the competition. The media team promoted the judges to respective media, and once the awards had been judged, the shortlisted candidates were sold into relevant media.

Shortlisted entries were put on TheSite.org website and supported with a Twitter feed and Facebook page. Users of the site were invited to vote for their favourite entries.

An awards event was held at London's Design Museum, which provided an opportunity to recognise the winners and highlight the young people's stories to an older audience. The winner and three runners up were given prizes of £1,000 and £300 respectively. To generate photo opportunities, a number of money-themed novelties were created for the evening, including waiters dressed as bankers, piggy bank pinatas and a faux 'money tree'. TV personality Chloe Madeley acted as host for the evening, which helped generate coverage of the event. Stories and photos from the event were then sold into regional and national media.

Measurement and evaluation

The competition generated 68 pieces of coverage across national, regional and local print media, regional broadcast stations and in trade and online media. Highlights included a slot on BBC Points West, a piece on The Politics Show and a double-page feature in The Independent.


There were 93 entries to the competition, nearly twice the original target. There were nearly 11,000 visits to the website, and the shortlisted entries received 3,057 votes from users. An end-of-competition feedback survey revealed that 85.7 per cent of entrants to the competition were not aware of TheSite.org before entering, showing that a new audience had been targeted.



Positive stories about young people can be a really tough sell to the national media intent on portraying the UK's youth as anything from jobless and lacking in skills to feral and ASBO-ridden.

YouthNet's LifeSupport Change Through Art is a terrific example of a really creative and integrated campaign, which generated some impressive results on a limited budget.

The campaign strategy had in place plenty of useful pegs for PR-ing a competition: a call for entries, notoriously the most challenging stage for generating media coverage; judges' announcements and a celebrity host for the winners' event (it is frustrating that 'slebs' are almost becoming a required part of issues-related campaigns, but the right choice can certainly provide a media coverage boost).

A clever tactic was the series of monthly releases to build momentum and sustain interest in the competition over a period of time, and the money-themed novelties were a great idea for capturing extra media - and social media - attention.

The campaign integrated offand online activity really well, which was crucial given the main target audience of young people.

While the AVE is very impressive, the real merits of the campaign are demonstrated by its success against other KPIs, such as the impressive number of entries, votes and huge amount of website traffic.

Overall, this is an excellent example of a campaign bringing arts and business together.

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