We’re deep into election purdah, and that gives some public sector comms folk slight respite from campaign work – with the chance to plan for a new, post-5 May, onslaught. Our regular Front Foot feature looks at the main campaign themes for spring/summer 2022.

Also in this issue, why we need to talk about Facebook (clue: they’ve been messing with their algorithms again), and how to buy external services to help with campaign delivery via the new Crown Commercial Service comms framework.

Happy Earth Day, by the way! If you haven’t managed to catch our webinar "Carbon Comms: it's important to practice what you preach!” it’s an eye-opener and available on our YouTube channel.

For you this issue…

  • Recruiting now: Why we need to talk about Facebook.

  • Results in: How our Covid vaccine campaign outperformed official ads.

  • External support: Using Crown Commercial Service Communications Marketplace.

  • Front Foot: Foster Care Fortnight & latest public sector trends.

News you can use

Recruiting now:
why we need to talk about Facebook

The way you run recruitment campaigns on Facebook – including the recruitment of foster carers and volunteers – has recently changed. And you’ll need to know what you can do to limit any adverse effect on outcomes.

The change happened just as we were entering the sixth successful month of the Fostering Recruitment Hub and having just launched the new Social Care Recruitment Campaign Hub, both set up by us at CAN Digital and Westco Communications. Prior to the Facebook changes, recruitment campaigns on Facebook for either of these could be promoted to a specific audience, choosing the most appropriate geolocations and demographics.

Now targeting demographically isn’t possible for recruitment ads and geotargeting options are limited to within a nine-mile radius of a specific point. The changes are designed to limit discrimination in recruitment, but don’t consider the need to positively promote opportunities to under-represented demographics. We addressed the issue in a webinar last month, and you can catch up with “We need to talk about Facebook” on our YouTube channel to find workarounds.

While you’re on YouTube, you can also view the latest Fostering Recruitment Hub webinar on best practice for running community engagement events, and the latest Social Care Recruitment Campaign Hub session featuring Graham Rushbrook of Project Smith in Lambeth with an alternative approach to social care delivery.

Results are in: local gov Covid campaigns outperform official ads

If you’re at one of the 30 local authorities who’ve worked with us and Westco over the past 18 months to tackle Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy head-on via a series of online advertising campaigns, you can give yourself a slap on the back.

The results are in, and these hesitancy campaigns helped more than 450,000 people get accurate information from official NHS webpages, while 180,000 young people checked out the bespoke platform – 5% going on to book their jabs. Whereas central Government campaigns averaged a 1.1% click-through rate, the CTR for our campaigns ranged from 2.5% to 7.6%.

You can relive the Covid-19 vaccine campaign journey – and find out what we can learn from it about planning public health campaigns in future – on this whistle-stop tour via Vimeo or read a succinct but powerful overview on this blog post.

Comms procurement:
buy all you need in one place

With government procurement rules tightening up, if you don’t already, you may need to think about using Crown Commercial Service (CCS) frameworks in future. CCS supports the public sector to achieve maximum commercial value when procuring goods and services and the companies on their frameworks go through a series of checks before they’re accepted as suppliers.

CAN Digital has recently been named as a supplier on the CCS Communications Marketplace (RM6124) framework, set up to help public sector organisations fulfil specialist, standalone comms requirements. Importantly (for us and our clients) you can buy online and social media advertising through this framework.

If you need other services as part of a campaign – such as marketing strategy, creative design or out-of-home media-buying – our specialist partners are registered on the framework to work with us. Just reflect all the services you need to procure in your brief.

It’s straightforward to set yourself up as a buyer on the framework. And, once you’ve done so, you can search for the comms services you need via the portal, get a list of agencies who can deliver them, upload your brief, and wait for responses. The process is run like a mini tender competition, so you don’t award directly.

CCS offers training and guidance on getting onto their frameworks as a buyer plus templates for briefs and evaluations. Get in touch with us in the first instance with any questions and we can support you: Or go directly to the CCS portal registration page.

Front Foot

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.

Foster Care Fortnight – proceed with caution!

The Fostering Network's annual awareness drive takes place this year from 9-22 May with the theme of #FosteringCommunities. It usually triggers campaign spend from local authorities keen to promote their services to potential foster carers at a time of heightened awareness.

But splurging on a campaign during this period may not be the best plan of action. Independent Fostering Agencies (IFAs) have considerable sums invested in Google Search all year round and are particularly active during awareness campaigns like Foster Care Fortnight so they can scoop up potential carers attracted by the sort of big campaigns run by councils.

If you’re involved in foster care recruitment comms but haven’t yet joined the Fostering Recruitment Hub set up by Westco and us, it’s well worth your time so you can find out more on competing successfully with IFAs. Sign up to the next free webinar on 27 April which is all about maximising the potential of your website visitors by remarketing to this already “warm” audience.

Spring and summer campaign trends

What are local government priorities right now? Looking at which campaigns organisations are devoting their stretched comms budgets to is the place to find out. And it seems, now we’re learning to live with COVID-19, the health focus is on looking after your own wellbeing.

We’ve been working with NHS trusts and councils on promoting free health MOTs for the over-40s, how to keep up – or even start – keeping fit in your 50s and beyond, and how to make best use of the expertise available from your pharmacist.

A couple of London boroughs have campaigns encouraging residents to sign up as community health volunteers to share accurate messaging with their own social groups and counteract the sort of fake stories prevalent during the pandemic.

The self-reliance theme continues with social care. A few “spring into summer” campaigns focus on promoting ways older people – and their family and friends – can take action towards more independent living. The message is that support and information is available to empower rather than “look after” for as long as possible.

COVID campaigning hasn’t entirely disappeared – with councils and NHS trusts still keen to promote vaccinations and boosters as well as practical tips on remaining vigilant.

If you would like to talk to us about what’s been working (and not) in campaigns, so you can better plan for the future, drop a line to

Bye for now!

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