A quality post from our quality GOLD sponsors CAN. They look at how public sector campaigns can help shore up finances against the fallout for their residents and local businesses. PLUS take part in our Priorities Poll for the chance to win sustainable beer or bath treats.

While national government makes the big fiscal decisions for how to deal with rising energy costs and inflation it’s local government organisations of all kinds that will be at the sharp end this winter dealing with the fallout on the ground.

For many local authority comms folks this has so far meant being asked to collect info on resources like ‘warm bank’ locations into a single webpage and promoting it on their organic channels. Mr Slee rounded up the most useful ways to communicate the cost-of-living crisis sourced from the Public Sector Comms Headspace group in a recent blog. One of the tips was, in fact, to steer clear of using the term ‘warm bank’…

As a digital advertising agency, we defer to comms professionals on this sort of thing. But we do have some ideas for how you can make sure your cost-of-living comms is amplified and lands with the right audiences, and how to support residents and businesses (including councils’ own trading services) through winter.

Reaching the right residents

  • That carefully sourced cost-of-living info page on your website could remain undiscovered by those who most need it if you rely on organic social media alone to promote it. Most people don’t follow public sector accounts. Both the London Borough of Hounslow and Wandsworth Council promoted their resource page with paid-for social media and programmatic advertising targeted at lower-income residents in the postcodes where they live.
  • Other London boroughs are focusing on the preventative end of cost-of-living campaigning, by promoting grants available for things like draught-proofing and low-cost heating methods through “Warmer Homes” campaigns.
  • Recently set-up Integrated Care Boards like North-East London ICB and South-West London ICB, are preparing for the additional pressures on emergency services this winter with awareness campaigns to encourage people to consider their local pharmacy, GP or NHS 111 first. These major on a long-term search strategy with a comprehensive set of keywords that people might Google in a panic when someone is unwell, and instead presents them with more considered alternatives than rushing to A&E.

Bolstering local businesses

Local businesses will be hit hard again after a tough time during the pandemic.

  • In the run-up to Christmas, when people might rather hang out at the local café and shops than use their own heating at home, it’s a good time to run a Support Your Local High Street campaign. With sales already down in city and town centres due to the pandemic (by up a year’s worth according to the Centre for Cities Annual Survey 2022), Telford & Wrekin and Haringey councils have introduced reward apps to encourage customers to shop and eat out locally.
  • Fulham BID’s longer-term campaign aims to enhance the reputation of its Broadway area as the first choice for locals and those in neighbouring boroughs for a whole range of occasions. They are running ads on social media and news and lifestyle websites encouraging people to stay local for everything from Saturday shopping splurge to Sunday lunch, with one-off campaigns promoting date nights and individual events.

Don’t forget the council coffers

A recent report from the District Councils Network estimated that inflationary and pay pressures could lead to a £900m budget shortfall over the next two financial years – with 66 per cent of the 183 network councils considering scaling back on community support and 37 per cent looking at cutting welfare support to bridge the gap. This at a time when demand for services is bound to grow.

Campaigns to market council trading services could help generate extra income. LGComms has just launched its National Procurement Strategy for Local Government in England 2022 with a useful section on creating commercial opportunities.

  • Surrey County Council’s Adult Learning service offers dozens of different courses with a “rolling enrolment” throughout autumn and winter – perfect for advertising with “always on” Google Search plus timely digital ad boosts for courses that are slow to sell. Many people now have the sort of flexible working hours that lend themselves to pursuing other interests.
  • The same applies to fitness. Telford & Wrekin Council is promoting a leisure offer with 12 months for the price of 11, and marketing it to 30-50s who might be working from home or hybrid-working nowadays.
  • And for a no-brainer way to generate income – councils can join the 100-plus public sector organisations reaping the financial rewards of advertising on their websites through our own Council Advertising Network!

Your priorities = a chance to win beer with non-alcoholic alternatives available

The examples above are all based on what our public sector clients are prioritising right now. We’re keen to find out how other local councils across the UK are prioritising spend on their comms campaigns during the current cost-of-living crisis.

Fill in our quick Priorities Poll 2022/23 and we’ll enter you into a draw for a bumper pack of beer or some posh bath-time treats from two sustainability hero businesses: Toast and Land & Water! The prize will be awarded to a randomly drawn entry after the poll closes on 28 October.
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