CAMPAIGNS: PUBLIC AWARENESS; An electoral roll call to the young

Client:In-house campaign across seven authorities PR Team: PROs of Hertfordshire County Council, Stevenage CC, North Herts DC, East Herts DC, Hertsmere BC, St Albans City and DC and Watford BC Campaign: No Vote - No Voice Timescale: 1 - 8 September 1996 Cost: pounds 200 per authority

Client:In-house campaign across seven authorities

PR Team: PROs of Hertfordshire County Council, Stevenage CC, North Herts

DC, East Herts DC, Hertsmere BC, St Albans City and DC and Watford BC

Campaign: No Vote - No Voice

Timescale: 1 - 8 September 1996

Cost: pounds 200 per authority



In the summer of 1996,



the PROs of all the county councils in Hertfordshire met to plan a joint

campaign to persuade 18 to 25-year-olds to join the electoral roll. Such

a meeting was in itself ground-breaking, since the local government

reviews, with their threat of PRO job losses, had made relationships

between authorities distinctly acrimonious.



As a result of the meeting, the first PR campaign launched by a joint

working initiative of seven local authority press officers was born.



Objective



The number of 18 to 25-year-olds on the electoral roll had fallen since

the introduction of the poll tax in the 1980s, with an estimated 20 per

cent failing to register. The authorities aimed to persuade those who

had ‘disappeared’ from the electoral roll to rejoin and to explain the

importance of the vote to those eligible to register for the first time.



Tactics



The seven authorities aimed to conduct the campaign in time for the

electoral registration deadline of 11 October. They decided to launch a

campaign which would be uniform across authority boundaries, so that the

target audience would receive the same message wherever they lived,

worked and socialised.



The logo ‘No Vote - No Voice’, was designed to convey the message that

without their vote, young people lost their rights and power.



A poster campaign, backed up with leaflets and adverts, was sent to

schools, community centres, pubs, clubs and the local press. The PROs

liaised with electoral registration officers who distributed the

literature.



The artwork, showing an outline of the county filled with children’s

faces and the words: ‘We’re too young to vote - what’s your excuse?’ was

sent to each of the participating authorities, who individually stamped

it with their own logos.



The launch took place on 5 September at Watford Football club.

Footballers David Connolly and Colin Simpson - both in the target age

bracket and on the electoral role - joined council dignitaries for the

press photocall.



Results



The true results of the campaign will not be known until after the

closing date for electoral registration in December 1996, when

registration figures can be assessed.



Posters are visible throughout the Hertfordshire area, and the campaign

has received some coverage in the local press. In North Hertfordshire,

for example, three of the five local papers covered the story - a figure

roughly matched throughout the county. The PROs are confident enough of

the campaign’s success to be planning a similar initiative next year.



Verdict



Cash-strapped PROs received no extra funds to run the campaign and were

subsequently hampered by budget restrictions. In the light of this, it

would not be fair to compare it with similar initiatives, such as ‘Rock

the Vote’ or the Ministry of Sound’s youth vote campaign.



Although it was an effective means of transmitting a powerful message,

the poster campaign did not succeed in generating much local media

interest. Local news editors seemed unaware that the campaign was a new

story, rather than just a tired rerun of an annual initiative, and their

coverage reflected this, with most papers running the story as a picture

caption. Local radio stations did not pick up on the campaign.



Ultimately the campaign was remarkable more for its ability to bring

local authority PROs together - an angle missed by the press - than for

its impact on the media.



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