Tees Valley uses Maximo Park frontman to promote mayoral elections to young people

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

Maximo Park frontman Paul Smith - seen here at last year's T In The Park festival - has been drafted in as an influencer in the mayoral election campaign (pic credit: Deadline News/REX/Shutterstock)
Maximo Park frontman Paul Smith - seen here at last year's T In The Park festival - has been drafted in as an influencer in the mayoral election campaign (pic credit: Deadline News/REX/Shutterstock)
It is fair to say that Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA), which takes in the five local authorities of Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, has pulled out all the stops in a bid to promote the mayoral elections on 4 May.

It is running a multi-channel campaign, designed to reach eligible voters from all demographics, using traditional and digital methods.

The authority is carrying out traditional media relations, which includes issuing regular press releases and briefing print, broadcast and online journalists throughout to the run-up to the elections.



Regional newspapers have also been targeted with print and digital advertising and the authority is using big screen advertising at Middlesbrough FC's Riverside Stadium, the only Premiership club in the area.

It has also created a leaflet explaining the election and this has been distributed through the five areas covered by the authority – to businesses, NHS and public buildings, shopping centres and other high-footfall areas.

A stakeholder pack has been put together and shared with local businesses and key influencers to gain their support in promoting the elections and there is an ongoing radio campaign on local radio stations.

The authority has even created a two-minute animated film, explaining the role of the new mayor, which it is promoting on social-media channels to gain the interest of voters.

But it is TVCA work to attract younger voters that may yet prove to be the biggest selling point of the campaign.

The authority has brought in alternative rock band Maximo Park’s frontman, Paul Smith, who was raised in the local area of Billingham, to influence younger people into registering to vote.

A spokesman for the campaign said: "TVCA is targeting all eligible voters, taking into consideration how best to speak to harder to reach groups such as younger people. They have sought quotes from local 'celebrities' who younger people might identify with – such as Paul Smith of Maximo Park – and used targeted social media. This had very high levels of engagement across social-media channels, including Instagram, a platform that has been specifically adopted by TVCA for the campaign to ensure it reaches young people."

In a press release quoting Smith, the singer said he felt Teesside was "isolated" from the rest of the country, politically and culturally, and that the region was capable of much more.

Smith added: "Whatever your politics, I would urge people of all ages and backgrounds to vote in the upcoming Tees Valley Mayoral election - it's your right, after all."

Turnout for local elections across the five areas in 2015 was an average of nearly 64 per cent.

TVCA said it would measure the effectiveness of its mayoral elections campaign by using website analytics to test how various platforms were performing, page views and dwell time on its 'Tees Valley Mayor' website, as well as measuring social-media engagement, sentiment and PR coverage.

The authority has already carried out a baseline survey of levels of interest in the elections before its campaign started and it will use this at the end of the campaign to determine whether there has been an increase in public interest.

There are four candidates for the mayoral elections in Tees Valley, including the main parties and UKIP.


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