West of England gives electorate 'a billion reasons to vote' on 4 May

The West of England is one of six new combined authorities to hold mayoral elections on 4 May. In the fourth part of this series, PRWeek looks at the local election campaigns and how comms and PR are being used to raise awareness and turnout.

West of England Combined Authority is giving the electorate "£1 billion reasons to vote" on 4th May
West of England Combined Authority is giving the electorate "£1 billion reasons to vote" on 4th May
West of England Combined Authority (WECA) will use various elements of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s campaign materials, including 'out of home' advertising and radio spots to promote the election next month. 

It will also use the Twitter feeds of local authorities across Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol City and South Gloucestershire to amplify the message of the forthcoming election.

Media influencers, including Sky News and BBC Politics, will be targeted on twitter to further amplify the message, as well as celebrity influencers such as Carol Vorderman.

WECA’s Twitter strategy is to tag influencers in pictures in the hope that they will re-tweet the message while social media teams at local authorities will be on hand to amplify messages about the election.

The combined authority will also use Facebook and Instagram platforms to promote the message that there are "a billion reasons to vote on 4 May" referencing the budget the new mayor will have at their disposal.

The aim is to reach at least a million people using social media comms.

Six candidates, including Tim Bowles for the Conservatives and Lesley Mansell for Labour, are vying to become the first mayor of the West of England region.

WECA has in its sights several categories of traditionally hard-to-reach voters, which it hopes will register and turn out for the election, including those from black and minority ethnic groups, students of voting age, people living in rural areas and council wards with under-representation.

Turnout for Bristol City’s first directly elected mayor in 2012 was 28 per cent.

The comms approach differs from previous elections, said Tim Borrett, PR manager at Bristol City Council.

He added: "We are focusing more on partnership-working, given the new combined area involved, along with raising awareness about what the Combined Authority and Mayor will do, as research indicated that awareness levels are relatively low."


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