As our over-baked summer turns into a chilly autumn and we mourn the loss of a beloved monarch, reality is biting hard for everyone.

National government is making the big decisions on financial support packages for residents and businesses because of the escalation in energy costs, but local authorities and the NHS will be at the sharp end dealing with the fallout.

This issue, we’re looking at ways in which you can use your comms campaigns to grasp the initiative – giving residents and businesses the information they need on the channels they use, and – if you work for a local council – supporting your own organisation to raise extra revenue.

We’re still keen to find out how councils across the UK are prioritising spend on their comms during the current cost-of-living crisis and have extended the deadline for our Priorities Poll 2022/23. Fill in our quick two-question survey by 25 September for your chance to win a gift card for Toast’s fine, sustainable beer!

Read on…

CAN Lunch Bite Bulletin is a regular round-up of useful insights and information for public sector communicators. Email us at

For you this issue…

  • Reality bites: How comms can step up to the cost-of-living challenge

  • Public health: Cut through the noise with vital messages

  • Sustainable comms: Is it time to cut your carbon emissions?

  • Fostering on film: Exciting video project for recruitment teams.

  • Front Foot: Winter of vaccinations & social care vacancies.

News you can use

How comms can step up to the cost-of-living challenge

Ever-higher inflation, unaffordable energy, upcoming recession – there couldn’t be a much bleaker picture heading into autumn and winter.

If you’re in communications, you’re in a great position to step up and provide campaign ideas that could shore up residents’, local businesses’ and even your own council’s finances against the fallout. Here are a few suggestions based on what our public sector clients are prioritising right now.


  • Comms teams will be asked to communicate essential information people need this winter, such as locations of so-called “warm banks” where people can escape their unheated homes. The London Borough of Hounslow is one of the authorities running a digital campaign tailored to lower-income residents which clicks through to a central resource with info on benefits and grants, emergency help, and tips for reducing household costs.

  • London boroughs are running Warmer Homes campaigns promoting grants available for draught-proofing and lower-cost heating methods. If you work for a council in London and need help to get these messages out to residents, please get in touch with us.

  • Recently created Integrated Care Boards, like North-East London ICB and South-West London ICB, are preparing for additional pressures on emergency services this winter by running awareness campaigns to encourage people to consider their local pharmacy, GP or NHS 111 first.


  • In the run-up to Christmas, when people might rather hang out at the local café and shops rather than use their own electricity 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 to a year’s worth according to the Centre for Cities Annual Survey 2022), councils including Telford & Wrekin and Haringey 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, from a pre-match pint to Sunday lunch, and date-night dinner to Saturday shopping splurge.


  • Most councils now have trading services which – if marketed in the right way – could generate substantial extra income: green waste collection and venue hire amongst them. LGComms has just launched its National Procurement Strategy for Local Government in England 2022 that includes 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 now have the sort of flexible working hours that lend themselves to pursuing other interests during the daytime.

  • 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!

We can provide you with ideas and insights into what’s worked and not in the past on all of the above! Just get in touch with us.

Cut through the noise with public health messages

As with Covid-19, the cost-of-living crisis may well dominate public sector communications to the detriment of other issues for the foreseeable future. But getting public health messages out to those who need them remains vital for early intervention and better outcomes. Here are a few of the public health campaigns currently being rolled out by us for our council clients.

Next month marks both the long-running Stoptober and the newer charity-inspired Sober October – excellent opportunities to promote local smoking-cessation and alcohol-awareness initiatives. Our case study “Stop smoking success as London councils get smarter with audience data” will provide plenty of ideas for Stoptober campaigns based on our work in the capital.

This autumn, Haringey Borough Council is joining forces with charity Humankind to launch “DrinkCoach”. This initiative targets parents of school-age children to increase awareness of how excessive alcohol consumption can impact family life and their own future health and is available nationwide for organisations who want to make its resources available to their residents.

In terms of preventative measures, the NHS Over-40s Health Checks are invaluable – if take-up was only higher. In July, local authority leaders issued a collective plea to eligible residents to recognise the importance of these checks after data revealed less than half those invited attend. The London Boroughs of Richmond and Wandsworth are running a joint campaign featuring a local GP explaining what to expect from the checks and which illnesses they can help prevent.

You might be responsible for comms in one of the council areas set to pilot the Government’s new social prescription trial to support health and wellbeing through cycling and walking. Expect a briefing soon from your managers if you work for councils or NHS Trusts in Staffordshire, Leeds, Nottingham, Plymouth, Doncaster and six other areas.

Tools to decarbonise your campaign comms

Another of the “forgotten casualties” of both Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis is the sustainability agenda. Over the past six months, Team CAN have started our own journey towards being a carbon-neutral – and eventually, carbon-net-zero – company, and we hosted a second webinar last month to share our learnings so far in the hope that they’ll be useful to others.

The webinar – “How to Decarbonise Public Sector Comms” – is now available to watch on YouTube! In it you can find out more about what working towards more sustainable aims means in action: especially around your communications output.

Videos, for example, are great for increasing interaction rates – “less great” in terms of the carbon emitted when you upload large files to numerous social media platforms and when users then download them to view. In the webinar we introduce our carbon calculator that measures the emissions from your campaign creatives and suggest ways in which you can reduce these with a bit of planning.

By the way, if you currently work with us on digital ad campaigns – or are thinking about doing so in the future – we’re trialling tech that can vastly reduce carbon emissions by “streaming” creatives rather than users continually downloading them when they view a webpage. And, as a bonus, this tech also leads to better performance with improved viewability and quicker loading times.

· Contact us if you’re interested in taking part in our carbon comms reduction pilot.

Free foster care marketing webinar – plus an exciting video project

Our John Cooper will be hosting a free webinar on 20 September with support for comms folk tasked with running fostering recruitment campaigns with little or no marketing budget.

There’s also exciting news about a new film project. Council and council-owned fostering teams from across the UK are coming together to fund a video promoting the idea of becoming a foster carer. It follows the success of Out There, a fostering film project led by Coventry City Council.

The premiere of the new film will take place on 13 October – and there’s still time to be part of it and to get to use the footage for your own campaigns at very low cost.

To find out more, sign up for the Fostering Recruitment webinar now, the latest as part of our hub in partnership with Westco, or contact John directly by emailing

Front Foot

Team CAN live!

If you’d like to discuss your upcoming public sector campaigns – or just need some general advice on comms and think we could help – you can catch up with John-Paul, Allan, Matt and Eleri at two IRL events soon! We’re at Comms Unplugged later this week and Comms Camp North in October – as sponsors of both. Contact us in advance or just look out for us when you’re there!

Covid and flu autumn vaccinations

There are still plenty of messages that need to go out over the autumn about the vaccinations that will help reduce the extra burden on NHS services.

All over-50s are being offered both a Covid booster and a flu jab. Those in clinical risk groups under 49 – including those who are pregnant – as well as carers and frontline health workers will also be eligible for free Covid doses.

And free flu jabs will also be available for pre-school and primary school children, those in clinical risk groups, and secondary school children in years 7, 8 and 9.

The Bedfordshire, Luton & Milton Keynes Health and Care Partnership has already started its autumn vaccination campaigning, focusing on children and young people aged 5 to 17. The ad creatives appeal to parents of younger children to do the right thing and to 16-17-year-olds to make their own decisions to protect their family.

Winter of vacancies for adult social care teams

Difficulties in adult social care recruitment and retention continue to mount up. A recent Skills For Care report found that between 2020/21 and 2021/22 filled posts in adult social care were down (by around 50,000 or 3%) for the first time since 2012 while vacant posts increased by 55,000.

This suggests that organisations are cutting out roles entirely rather than keeping them vacant indefinitely. There’s certainly no shortage of people in need of care. A separate report by Age UK for the Care and Support Alliance (CSA) found that 2.6 million people aged 50 and over are not able to access the care support they need.

At CAN we’ve run many digital campaigns for councils to fill both qualified professional and care worker vacancies over the past two years, so can share relevant insight with you if you’re planning a social care recruitment campaign soon – just let us know more about it.

And, over at Westco, they are busy building a recruitment microsite with councils from across the UK to bring all the information people need about various adult social care job roles into one digital space as well as connecting candidates with local vacancies. To find out more, sign up to the Westco and CAN Social Care Recruitment Campaign Hub.

In the free resource bank COMMS:FILES in partnership with comms2point0 – you can search for inspiration for your campaigns from hundreds of award-winning examples. If you’d like insights into what’s been working (and not) in public sector digital campaigns recently, drop a line to

Bye for now!

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