Council toolkit: Planning your local campaign

A checklist for all the steps to ensuring your campaign runs smoothly and gets the best results.


Initial stakeholder engagement: Informing and gaining support

Leader of the Council - 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 will you manage 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 and promote?

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
  • How to stand for election
  • Be a Councillor resources
  • Electoral Commission resources
  • Democratic Services contact details

Develop campaign: Engagement materials activity

Do you want to target geographical areas or under-represented groups?

  • Which council teams and external and community organisations, groups and individuals can you engage with?
  • What materials and resources would you like?
  • How will you engage people – social media, posters, press, events?

Events

Who will open, introduce, facilitate and present?

  • Who would your audience find engaging?
  • LGA officers and member peers can be brought in to assist.
  • What do you want the events to cover?
  • How can the events be interactive and engaging?
  • Councils have even put on tours of the Town Hall!
  • Councillors are fantastic at bringing everything to life and sharing what it’s like in practice. You could have a panel of councillors who are asked to contribute to each section of the session; they could do five mins each on a brief and a Q&A, or both.

Typical sessions could include:

  • Motivation for becoming a councillor, how you can positively impact your community, why it is rewarding, examples of local achievements
  • 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 projects, community-led approaches, 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 once elected
  • Marketplace / networking with political groups.

Identifying dates, times and locations

You may wish to hold a number of events leading up to deadlines and election.
Example timetable:

  • May: Elections
  • February: Event for candidates (most parties will have selected)
  • October: Re-run of earlier event and/or going deeper into the topics
  • As early as possible: Considering standing for election

Look out for times where you can ‘hook’ your events and marketing to other activity, e.g. Democracy Week, days, weeks or months focused on under-represented groups, local community activities, anything else which will pique people’s interest.

When and where will you hold your event?

  • A daytime event may exclude workers
  • An evening event may exclude people with other commitments
  • Consider running multiple events at different times and at weekends
  • Consider multiple locations
  • How long will the event be, what refreshments can you offer?

We have example event agendas, PowerPoints and resources for candidate and prospective councillor events. Please email beacouncillor@local.gov.uk.

  • The Town Hall can be interesting but also off-putting for newcomers. A tour of the building and council chamber can be a great element to include.
  • Cafes, community buildings and other local venues may attract new and different people to places they find accessible and feel comfortable in.

Confirm dates with:

  • Leader
  • Other Group Leaders
  • Chief Executive
  • Officers you may need in attendance
  • Email/communicate to all members of the council and the political offices
  • All other stakeholders

Marketing

  • Stagger announcements/updates: Council is teaming up with Be a Councillor; Event and agenda; Microsite launch, Still time to register for event; Updates from the event and/or live updates; Post-event comms; other linked opportunities/events; standing for election deadlines and actions
  • Use the ‘local engagement and comms checklistl to help plan with comms team.
  • Which organisations and individuals can you contact to invite or promote?
  • How can you use social media?
  • Use online booking (e.g. Eventbrite) to invite and manage but also offer email/phone bookings for accessibility/engagement.
  • Ask about special requirements at the point of booking.
  • Use Twitter! Tag organisations to ask if they would like to promote/attend.
  • Remember to send reminders to delegates in the weeks/days before the event.

Logistics

  • What size room is needed, what layout will you have?
  • Do you need break-out rooms for people to meet with the political offices?
  • Have you considered recording the event?
  • 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?
  • Is the building/rooms suitable for any special requirements? (e.g. do the hearing loops work, where is the wheelchair access?)
  • Is there parking?
  • What equipment is needed? E.g. laptops, projectors, stationary, materials
  • Do all speakers/officers have the details? Do you have their phone numbers for any issues on the day?
  • Consider your no-show ratio.

On the day/evening:

  • Are reception and security briefed?
  • Is the building well sign-posted?
  • Prepare housekeeping instructions for the introduction
  • Is parking well sign-posted?
  • Do you want a sign-in sheet, will you ask people to leave their email addresses, GDPR considerations?
  • Where will refreshments be?
  • Check the equipment works!
  • Ensure delegate packs include follow-up contact details
  • Ensure feedback is taken from delegates

The weeks following the event:

  • Send a thank you email to all delegates, including:
  • Next steps for standing
  • Contact details for queries – incl. political contacts
  • Ask for feedback from delegates
  • Key deadlines and dates
  • Any electronic resources

Six months after the event:

  • Follow up with an email to find out if they need any further information.