Scottish laws passed in 2003 state that every homeless person will have the right to a permanent home by 2012. It is the most forward-thinking homelessness legislation in Western Europe but housing charity Shelter was concerned that the current administration might need encouragement to stick to its promise. It particularly wanted to speak out on behalf of young people, who are more likely than any other group to struggle with homelessness.
To drive awareness and put pressure on political influencers, decision-makers and the Government to influence policy
To educate young people and encourage them to back a homelessness campaign.
Strategy and plan
The fashion and music pages were deemed the best areas to convey the campaign message to 18- to 24-year-olds, so Hometime Scotland set out to gain the support of some of Scotland’s best-known and most exciting new bands and artists.
The Stripe and Shelter teams first partnered with hip Scottish clothing label, Staunch, which designed a T-shirt using the Shelter logo to form a map of Scotland.
Rather than use a traditional petition, the campaign’s main concept was a postcard on which young Scots could send back to Shelter the song that reminded them of home, and why. Along with the T-shirt, this postcard was sent out to ‘hip young things’ – artists and stylists, music and fashion journalists.
Shelter targeted music festivals across Scotland including T In The Park and Wickerman, where helpers handed out thousands of the postcards. Before and during the festivals, they enlisted the support of well known Scottish celebrities and bands to promote the campaign, such as KT Tunstall, The Wombats and Idlewild.
It asked bands to name their top song, in order to gather soundbites for news releases. The Wombats opened T In The Park with their drummer wearing the campaign T-shirt.
A factual news release was sent to regional, national and local media – press, broadcast and radio – while a consumer release about the T-shirt and the activity at festivals was sent to feature writers. Many titles were given exclusives: Metro had an interview with Idlewild, and the Daily Record covered the first selection of songs chosen at T In The Park.
Facebook and Bebo sites were set up to communicate campaign updates while a campaign microsite – hometimescotland.org.uk – gave young people the chance to sign up to the campaign and register their favourite song online, along with comments about why it was important to them. Retail partner Schuh handed out postcards in its stores while Young Scot magazine encouraged sign-ups in its editorial.
Measurement and evaluation
Hometime Scotland garnered 92 media mentions: The Sunday Herald, Daily Record, Edinburgh Evening News, Scottish Metro, The List magazine, Skinny magazine and Young Scot ran pieces on the campaign. BBC Online featured the story while radio and broadcast coverage included STV, BBC One Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland and Clyde One.
Four thousand young people signed up to Hometime Scotland during the summer and in November, the charity handed over two guitar cases stuffed with the postcards to Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, while another 27 MSPs came down to thehandover to show their support. 500 Miles by the Proclaimers was picked as the top song that reminded young Scots of home.
Daily Record chief writer Annie Brown says: ‘Hometime was a gift for a campaigning journalist on a tabloid paper. It had it all: celebrities, music, emotive stories from the public and the opportunity for the reader to participate by coming up with their own song that reminded them of home. It was a fresh, contemporary idea to highlight homelessness.’
Managing director of Weber Shandwick in Scotland
It’s always difficult to maintain momentum around longer-term legislation such as this, but Shelter’s Hometime Scotland campaign very successfully delivers its key messages through high impact media coverage.
The campaign’s contemporary approach cleverly engages the 18- to 24-year-old market through heavily targeted activity that delivers a strong media angle. This tactic is a novel way to engage politicians and it pays great dividends. Shelter secures both political and celebrity endorsement; connects with a key audience; and drives awareness.
It’s an innovative media campaign that delivers instant and impressive results. Perhaps it could have offered even more value with a stronger focus on direct interaction with MSPs. This is predominantly a public affairs campaign, with political aims. Further integration between public affairs and PR could do more to influence the desired policy implementation.
But while the campaign’s hugely successful media result does present a more PR-focused outcome, the high MSP turnout at the handover of the postcards shows political buy-in and demonstrates the Scottish Government’s willingness to engage the youth market.
Ultimately, Shelter has delivered an impactful campaign that hits at the right moment. Time will tell if the campaign will build the political advocates needed to drive forward this legislation.