CAMPAIGN: Woking shapes up to attract young voters

In March 2006, Woking Borough Council (WBC) decided to get more local people engaged in local democracy. Read on to find out how...

Woking: encouraged youth vote
Woking: encouraged youth vote

Campaign: Shape your space
Client: Woking Borough Council
PR Team: In-house and DTW Vavasour
Timescale: Aug 2006 – May 2007
Budget: £10,000

Woking’s in-house marcoms team and PR Agency DTW Vavasour was tasked with producing a campaign to encourage more people to think about their role as voters and ask them to ‘shape their space’.

To encourage local people to vote in the run-up to the local elections in May 2007. To use Local Democracy Week to kick off a campaign about the importance of voting. To reassure members of the public that strict electoral procedures are in place and steps are being taken to stamp out electoral fraud. To help increase the registration figures and turn-out at the polls, particularly among young people and minority groups.

The team came up with the idea of using letters and shapes made from modelling clay to get across the idea that the opportunity to change is in people’s hands. The campaign was launched by three key activities to coincide with Local Democracy Week – a roadshow, a speed debating event with local schools and a work-shadowing day with Woking Youth Council.

To complement this, an array of leaflets, adverts, posters and questionnaires was designed to promote public engagement and gather feedback. Small pots of ‘Shape’ branded modelling clay were distributed to young children and campaign posters featured clay models of key elements of an individual’s life – a house, a street and local people.

To enhance public confidence in the electoral process, the team produced a leaflet in English and Urdu, in the run-up to the elections

Drinks coasters, T-shirts, photo-calls, the council magazine and a visit from Bridget Prentice, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, were also used to consolidate the message.

A survey carried out in autumn 2006 showed 86 per cent of respondents were ‘very or fairly well informed’ about how and where to register to vote. The campaign was covered positively in local media and over 300 people completed the questionnaire. Sixty-five per cent concluded it was important to vote. The project received a ministerial seal of approval from Bridget Prentice, who said it played an ‘important role in increasing democratic awareness’.

Over 705 people, registered to vote representing 1.2 per cent of the electorate, between February and May 2007, and the percentage of 16 and 17-year-olds on the electoral register increased from 23 per cent to 30 per cent.

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