Public sector comms folk could get over some common obstacles to success if they shared campaign creatives, suggests John-Paul Danon

I love judging the Comms2point0 UnAwards – and hearing how the winners came up with their successful campaigns and initiatives at the subsequent UnAwards Winners’ Masterclass.

Behind the winning entries there are inevitably stories of the ingenious ways in which comms teams get around familiar obstacles in order to deliver something that achieved their objectives.

I work with comms folk on their digital campaigns, and these are the three obstacles they tell me they struggle the most with:

  • Lack of time – often resulting in frustrating compromises being made
  • Lack of budget – while not a barrier to creativity, the overall impact sometimes suffers
  • Lack of resource – “we knew we couldn’t do this on our own” is a frequent mantra

I wondered how we at CAN could support public sector comms teams to share the actual, practical means with which they could tackle these barriers and came up with two suggestions: access to high-performing creatives through low-cost licensing to save on the time and resource obstacles, and group-buying opportunities that deliver more programmatic advertising for your buck to save on budget.

Creative licensing – the wheel’s already been invented

Recently we worked with four London borough councils on a campaign to tackle the lack of awareness around what can and can’t be recycled locally. We worked with our partners at agency 22 Design to create an interactive digital tool, for use on social media, that tested the user’s knowledge on recycling and was tailored to each borough’s own policy.

And the stats were impressive. Over the two-week campaign, more than 4.5 million views were delivered on Facebook and Instagram. A huge 37,290 interactions were recorded, and it massively outperformed a recent video-based recycling campaign.

We realised the interactive tool itself could be ‘recycled’ – licensed by any local council to help improve their recycling rates for a fraction of the cost it took the design agency to develop it initially.

And this could also work with many of the creatives – tools, videos, artwork – I’ve seen over the 160-plus digital campaigns we’ve run with local councils over the past four years. It would certainly work with campaign creatives I’ve come across on judging duty for the UnAwards.

A small fee to license something that has already been shown to work and repurposing it for a readymade, low-cost, time-saving campaign – without the need to constantly reinvent the wheel.

Clubbing together for a real deal

If you remember, the original concept behind sites like Groupon was that each individual purchaser would get a good deal because they were buying in bulk with all the others who took up an offer.

Well, we can’t offer you cheaper laser hair removal, but our second idea to help shift the obstacles to campaign success is to offer council comms teams ‘bulk buying’ of advertising space. The four London boroughs who took part in the recycling campaign described above pooled their budgets in this way.

It leads to a lower average cost per ad, better targeting – as it’s possible to work out more quickly which groups respond best to which channels and messages when there’s more and smarter data involved – access to bigger-name websites you can’t get to on lower budgets, and stronger benchmarking and evaluations.

With many councils running campaigns on the same theme at a similar time of the year – for example Recycle Week (23-28 September) or Stoptober – it just makes sense to pool resources in this way for better outcomes all round. You can read more about it here.

What do you think? Would you be interested in licensing the recycling interactive tool – or another creative – for a campaign if it meant saving on time, budget and resource? Would you team up with other councils to share campaign costs and insights for the chance to improve engagement with your residents?

Get in touch for a chat.

 This blog first appeared on the Comms2point0 website in May 2019.