Campaign: Doncaster gets youth engaged in politics - Public Sector

Campaign: Speak your Mind Client: Doncaster Youth Council and Doncaster Council PR team: The Publicity Bureau Timescale: 4-22 October 2004 Budget: Less than £5,000

Local Democracy Week, organised by the Local Government Association (LGA), is an annual national initiative designed to encourage more people to take an interest in local democracy. The 2004 focus was on young people, where 13 to 19-year-olds elected local youth councillors. The Publicity Bureau was drafted in to handle the campaign.

Objectives

To encourage young people to attend the event and become involved in local democracy.

Strategy and Plan

The event, entitled 'Speak Your Mind', kicked off at the Doncaster Dome Leisure Centre on 19 October, combining entertainment with the official announcement of Doncaster Youth Council election winners.

TV star Jennifer Ellison was invited to join 60 young people in a fashion show. Other attractions included a professional skateboarding display, young bands, break-dancing competitions and a Q&A session with Doncaster's elected mayor, Martin Winter.

The PR team focused on viral media, text messaging and word of mouth.

Youth councillors created a radio campaign for the event, distributed promotional flyers and posters in schools and youth clubs, and wrote a full-page photo feature for the local paper on bullying, crime, drugs and disability rights.

Youngsters were encouraged to send a text to Doncaster Council asking for dedicated funding for the Youth Council's activities. Photos of voting in schools, a touring 'video box' opinion booth and photograph previews of the outfits to be worn at the fashion show helped create interest in the event.

Measurement and Evaluation

The event generated 14 pieces of coverage in the media, including the Doncaster Star, Sheffield Star and Doncaster Free Press.

The event also received news coverage on Trax FM, Hallam FM and BBC Radio Sheffield.

Results

Around 700 teenagers attended the event and the text vote on dedicated funding for Youth Council activity persuaded Winter to allocate £10,000 for youth projects in 2005.

The two leaders of Doncaster Youth Council appeared on the regional section of the BBC's The Politics Show to talk about engaging young people in local democracy with reference to their experience in Doncaster.

Doncaster Star district editor Rob Hollingworth says: 'When you have that many local schoolchildren involved it's an interesting story, and it helped that the team had involved a high-profile celebrity so we could get some decent pictures.'

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