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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.