Encouraging voter registrations can be a tough gig. But with creativity and planning nailed, one local council managed to pull it off…
"Say it with flowers" was my inspiration for creating a short video to liven up our campaign to increase voter registrations recently.
With a local referendum and PCC election on the horizon, plus the EU referendum on the cards, you can appreciate we're keen to ensure everyone has the chance to have their say.
Keen to capture the imagination with catchy imagery, but keep things simple, I explored a potential link between marking your cross on a ballot paper and signing a Valentine's card with a kiss. That’s how "Love Your Vote" blossomed.
Using a single shot - with discount props costing me less than a frothy coffee (£1 each for the Valentine’s card and classy red lipstick) - my glamorous assistant (Mrs Cattanach) managed to sign, and sound, her kiss in one take - all before the morning school-run.
After a couple of minutes of simple editing, I uploaded the finished video to YouTube - so I could save an MP4 version and embed it on our website/ autoplay through Twitter with tweets featuring a call to action and direct link to the voter registration site www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. The compact running time (14 seconds) meant it was also perfectly placed to run across Instagram.
We ran the "Love Your Vote: Don't Lose It" campaign from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 February. By replying to the original tweet with a screen shot of the video, we drew more attention to the linked short film. We extended our reach further by tagging a range of other Twitter feeds - including local media, universities and large online communities - with @mentions for up to 10 accounts embedded in each photo.
Over the Valentine weekend, our lovely tweets reached 38,500 accounts (with 135,000 impressions) and, more importantly, encouraged 500 extra voter registrations. It also meant I was sorted with a Valentine's card and present for my wife - who says romance is dead?
Energised by this positive outcome, we're keen to build on the success with more quirky short videos planned to boost engagement. It's a great leap forward from my first in-house videos, 8 years ago, which ran at around 5 minutes and took a good few days to produce and edit. So it's not just the audience who appreciate the trend for short and snappy films. As ultra-busy content producers, we can also benefit from this efficient and effective use of our time.
We took a punt on something inventive and fun - just like we did with our “Give a toss: mark your cross” video on Pancake Day. Thankfully it didn't fall flat but rather paid off massively - alongside news releases and tweets for National Voter Registration Drive - with an initial 1,725 new electoral registrations in the first week of February.
Like anyone else, we’re still experimenting to see what works. We're not quite at the stage of producing blipverts like those seen in Max Headroom, even with Vine. But I'd encourage anyone to make the most of the short video. Don’t shy away from your creativity - trust your gut instincts and try something new.
Remember, mighty oaks grow from little acorns. Sow, what are you waiting for?
Daniel Cattanach is news and media manager at Bath and North East Somerset Council
Image via Flickr creative commons