Campaigns: Public Affairs: Single voice for local councils

Client: Local Government Association

Client: Local Government Association



PR Team: In-house



Campaign: Launch of Local Government Association



Timescale: October 1996 - ongoing



Cost: pounds 80,000



The Local Government Association (LGA) was formed from merging the three

existing local authority associations - the Association of County

Councils, the Association of District Councils and the Association of

Metropolitan Authorities.



The LGA appointed Carol Grant as director of communications and public

affairs in September 1996 to implement the association’s official launch

on 1 April, 1997.



Objectives



The association wanted to promote itself as the new single voice for

local government, securing maximum recognition among its members, the

media, political parties, partner agencies and opinion formers.



Tactics



Grant’s primary concern in October 1996 was to attract attention to a

local government initiative that was more than likely to happen in the

midst of General Election fever. She decided on a rolling, three stage

launch.



On 27 January 1997 the LGA organised a seminar on the future of

relations between local and central government at the Cumberland Hotel

in London.



Attended by 250 delegates, the event was used by the association to

launch its new visual identity - created at a cost of pounds 20,000 by

HSAG Design - as well as its Web site.



For the second stage, the formal launch week of 24 March, the

association published a report called ’Speaking to Communities’, based

on findings from an LGA-commissioned MORI survey of public attitudes

towards local government. Sponsored by Tesco, the poll was based on face

to face interviews with 5,098 over 18s, across 499 sampling points in

England and Wales in the two weeks from 7 February. Regional survey data

was sent to members for use in local media work.



The LGA peppered the week with a series of launch receptions, including

a Corporation of London-sponsored dinner at The Guildhall on the

Tuesday.



Talkback, the association’s newsletter, was launched during this week

and the Times ran an advertisement at the end of the week with the

slogan ’Local government will have more punch from the first of the

month’.



For the the third stage, a series of future events were planned,

culminating in the LGA’s first annual conference in Manchester for 2,000

delegates in July.



Results



Since its launch, the Internet site has received over 13,000 hits and

LGA membership currently stands at 391 out of a possible 487

subscriptions.



Brian Briscoe, LGA chief executive, conducted 16 local radio interviews

on 24 March and LGA supplements were carried in the UKPG and Municipal

Journal that week.



The MORI survey gained coverage ranging from the Daily Telegraph and

Financial Times to Radio 5 Live, while the Guardian Society supplement

on Wednesday and Radio 4’s Today programme on the Thursday ran special

features.



Verdict



Grant is convinced that, as the date of the general election was not

known last October, the three stage launch was the right approach. She

adds: ’A rolling launch gives you more than one bite at the cherry.’



But, as Rosie Brocklehurst, head of press for London Borough of

Greenwich - an LGA member - points out, it is less clear whether the

enormous amount of work that went into getting the local angle for its

members on a national story - actually proved to be cost effective.



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