Council toolkit: Planning your local campaign

This checklist is built from good practice at councils, covering a range of steps, options and ideas to help you run your own local Be a Councillor campaign. 


Please also see Planning your communications toolkit for councils

 

Strategy, aims and gaining support

Remember it can take time to build awareness and encourage people. Be a Councillor is a message that can be regularly repeated through multiple avenues.

Think holistically about linking your Be a Councillor campaign to your wider diversity, equality, engagement and inclusion work.

Consider opportunities to work with all tiers of local government in your area as well as other partners.

 

Leader of the Council and Chief Executive

Have you got agreement to run a local “Be a Councillor” campaign?

 

Political group offices

  • Have you discussed with the political offices?
  • How can you work together?
  • How can you manage and support current and restanding councillors?
  • Will there be any specific party political Be a Councillor activity?

 

Communications

  • Work with your communications team early on, how can they help you develop the campaign, support, promote and reach new people?

Council Services

How can you make the whole council aware, use insights from all services to reach different people, and enlist a wide range of teams to promote?

  • Frontline services
  • Electoral Services
  • Member support/democratic services
  • Corporate Leadership Team

Consider an approach to ensure new people interested in standing for election can easily get the information they need at any point of contact:

Staff can be assured that enquiries are not ‘political’ but for engagement / democracy information Staff who receive enquiries can provide information such as:

  • Next election date
  • Signpost to information about how to stand for election
  • Signpost to Be a Councillor resources
  • Signpost to Electoral Commission resources
  • Provide Democratic Services contact details

 

 

 

 

Developing your campaign: Timescales

Remember it can take time to build awareness and encourage people. Be a Councillor is a message that can be regularly repeated through multiple avenues.

You may wish to hold a number of activities across a number of years as well as leading up to specific election dates and deadlines.

Example timetable:

  • Spring/Summer/Autumn: ‘find out more’ sessions – the basics, general information, a focus on under-represented groups
  • Summer/Autumn: depending on feedback from initial sessions - further information and support for people who would like to stand, a focus on specific topics – please see events section below for session ideas
  • Autumn/Winter/New Year: event/s for candidates – please see events section below for session ideas
  • Regularly year-round: campaign communications to raise awareness, signpost to information and encourage and inspire people to find out more and consider standing  

Look out for times where you can ‘hook’ your campaign to other activities that link to being a councillor e.g. national days, weeks or months with a focus on under-represented groups, local community activities, other council events; consider what could help reach new people and pique people’s interest. Please see our Planning your communications toolkit for further information.

 

 

When will you hold your event/s?

  • A daytime event may exclude people who work
  • An evening event may exclude people with other commitments
  • Consider running multiple events at different times and at weekends
  • Consider multiple locations - from community hubs and cafes, to museums and the Town Hall
  • How long will the event be?

Confirm dates with: 

  • Leader
  • Other Group Leaders
  • Chief Executive and senior staff
  • Democratic, Member and Electoral Services teams
  • Officers you may need in attendance
  • Email/communicate to all members of the council and the political offices
  • All other stakeholders

 

 

 

Developing your campaign: Events

We have example event agendas, PowerPoints and further resources. Please email beacouncillor@local.gov.uk to find out more.

Location and logistics

  • Holding events in multiple locations - from community hubs and cafes, to museums and the Town Hall.
  • The Town Hall can be interesting but could also be very formal for newcomers.
  • Cafes, community buildings and other local venues may be more comfortable for new people to get involved.
  • For events held at the Town Hall, a tour of the building and council chamber can be a great element to include.
  • The accessibility of venues and the style of event/content
  • Which geographical areas to focus on.
  • How you can reach out to under-represented groups.
  • Which council teams, external partners, community organisations, groups and individuals can you engage with?
  • Any materials and resources that should be made available.
  • What size room is needed, what layout will you have?
  • Do you need break-out rooms for people to meet with the political groups?
  • Have you considered recording the event?
  • Do you want a sign-in sheet, will you ask people to leave their email addresses, GDPR considerations?
  • Consider what refreshments, if any, will be ordered.
  • Do you need to make arrangements to have the building open later than usual or do delegates need to be told of security processes?
  • Are the building and any breakout rooms inclusive and suitable for any special requirements?
  • Is there parking available for members of the public, facilitators and other speakers?
  • What equipment is needed? E.g. laptop, projector, stationary, handouts.
  • Consider your no-show ratio What different ways can people book onto the event?
  • Please contact us for the Be a Councillor feedback form

Facilitators and speakers

  • Who would your audience find engaging?
  • Councillors are fantastic at bringing everything to life and sharing what it’s like to be a councillor in practice. You could have a panel of councillors who are asked to: contribute to each section of the session; speak for five mins each on a topic; take part in a Q&A session; or even a combination of all such elements.
  • The Chief Executive and other officers demonstrate leadership and commitment in attending and can provide excellent insight and inspiration.
  • LGA officers and member peers can be brought in to help facilitate or deliver sessions.
  • Briefings for all facilitators and speakers.
  • Do you have phone numbers of facilitators and speakers for any issues on the day?
  • How can the events be made interactive and engaging?

Typical sessions could include:

  • Motivation for becoming a councillor, how you can positively impact your community, why it is rewarding, examples of local achievements, achievements, skills that they have brought to the role
  • The role and responsibilities of a councillor, legal, ethical, expectations
  • Skills and behaviours of effective politicians, how to use your skills and develop further, what do people want from their leaders
  • Communication, networking and influencing styles, understanding your community, working with officers, partners, organisations and residents
  • What councils do, your council tiers, services provided, cabinet or committee, current strategic issues, horizon scanning
  • Realities of working in a political environment, what to achieve in opposition 
  • Interactive exercises, e.g. What do you know about your local area; What qualities do you want in a local politician; How would you balance work/life?
  • Locally-focused session activities such as looking at community-led approaches, specific community projects, real scenarios, current issues being grappled with.
  • Tips from current councillors (from the authority or LGA member peers)
  • Next steps, process of standing, timescales, contacts
  • Support available from the council, LGA and political groups once elected
  • Marketplace / networking with political groups.
  • Candidate events once most have been selected – sessions can include: looking at the role in more detail; being an effective councillor; next steps of electoral process; completing nomination forms; what to expect on election day/night and the count/results; what happened after you are elected; hearing from councillors who were not elected first time around.
Engagement and Marketing

Please see our Planning your communications toolkit.

On the day
  • Accessibility considerations
  • Do all speakers, members attending and officers have the details?
  • Do you have their phone numbers for any issues on the day?
  • What equipment is needed? E.g. laptop, projector, stationary, handouts.
  • Check the equipment works
  • Are reception and security briefed?
  • Is the building well sign-posted?
  • Is parking well sign-posted?
  • Where will refreshments be?
  • Prepare housekeeping instructions for the introduction
  • Do you want a sign-in sheet, will you ask people to leave their email addresses, GDPR considerations?
  • Any materials and resources that should be made available.
  • Ensure feedback is taken from delegates – please contact us for the Be a Councillor feedback form

Following the event

  • Send a thank you email to all delegates, including:
  • Any materials and resources
  • Next steps for standing
  • Contact details for queries – including political contacts
  • Ask for feedback from delegates Key deadlines and dates
  • Any electronic resources
  • Record how many people attended the event, diversity monitoring information and feedback about the event and campaign
  • Send feedback to the Local Government Association’s Be a Councillor team
Longer term

Where possible, take note of the following stats:

  • people who attended Be a Councillor events or engaged in another way through the campaign
  • from that group, those who put themselves forward for selection in a political party
  • those who became candidates for election
  • and, those who were elected.

Stay in touch with the Local Government Association’s Be a Councillor team to let us know the impact of your campaign, share ideas, and provide feedback about the LGA’s support.  

Share good practice, stats and campaign activity with the Local Government Association’s Be a Councillor team so that we can understand the impact of the campaign and share ideas with other councils.

Keep up the good work. Remember it can take time to build awareness and encourage people. Be a Councillor is a message that can be regularly repeated through multiple avenues.