Thought Leadership

How can brands engage consumers ahead of the General Election?

This election is set to be the most media-saturated election ever and with the decision day so close, what do brands need to do to cut through the noise and keep consumers engaged at such times of uncertainty?

This election is set to be the most media-saturated election ever and with the decision day so close, the General Election campaign is increasingly frenetic. From listicles on the funny faces of politicians to inside leaks on who the politicians would really like to partner with – it’s a spectrum of different stories breaking every day. At the Grazia Election Debate last week there was talk of making the vote compulsory for 18 year olds, having a box that says ‘none of the above’ on your ballot slip and ensuring there are more women in parliament than ever before. So what do brands need to do to cut through the noise and keep consumers (in particular the so-called ‘disengaged Millennials’) engaged at such times of uncertainty?

Millennials and voting

The younger generation have been facing a storm of new challenges including getting on the housing ladder, youth unemployment and the dreaded ‘Fear of Missing Out’. In a post-recession economy where money is tight and many believe good jobs are hard to get, it is the Millennials that need to think differently to progress.  According to Bauer Knowledge: The Millennial Chapter, 67% of Millennials find it harder than ever to find a desirable job and 42% struggle with their finances, making them focal points for May 7th.

Why are young people disengaged?

The younger generation are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information available but yet lack information that gives a clear concise outline of the differentiation between each party. As our research shows, Millennials like their voice to be heard, but they aren’t necessarily making the connection between the need to engage with politics and the issues affecting their lives. Many use online as their central hub of information and communication, making it a crucial tool for any brand or political party to engage with an audience on a more personal level. As Rick Edwards said about online voting at the Grazia Election Debate last week ‘It’s not a case of if but when.’ Brands need to take advantage of the reach and influence social media and online can have on this demographic.

The KISS ‘Use it or Lose It’ campaign has been using social media and online platforms to ask listeners personally why they are voting. They’ve also used regular listeners, celebrities and sports stars to educate their audience on how they can use their vote to make a difference to their lives to drive people to register to vote.

What can brands do to attract Millennials?

They are a varied group of people that care about issues, have opinions and want their voices to be heard – so what can brands do to appeal to them? Particular sectors of the Millennial audience prefer to prioritise entertaining content over news – but that doesn’t means brands can’t present content in an entertaining way that fits with their target audience. What they need to be careful on is to be entertaining, without being intrusive. Also key is to risk losing the authenticity of their brand…urm bacon sandwich Ed Miliband?

Should a brand hold a specific position on politics?

All of this is well and good but it also raises the question of whether brands or media owners should take a political stance on the Election or whether this could lead to negativity later down the line – although let’s face it you are never going to please everyone. But what you should always do is please your target audience – it’s a number one rule for brands and media owners alike. Conduct research, try new and different things or just simply ask a sample of your target audience their thoughts and opinions.

heat recently interviewed David Cameron – probably not normally a famous face our readers would couple heat with, but it wasn’t your standard Question Time interview because that’s not what our readers are looking for. We used celebrities to ask questions such as ‘Who would you most like to have a selfie with and why?’

This can be applied to brands too – keep it relevant to your audience and present it in a way you know they’ll find interesting.

Long term engagement

As with any successful campaign, popularity and engagement won’t happen overnight. Brands and even politicians must balance the combination of long term engagement against reactive or tactical campaigning as events occur. This is where trust can play a big part in your brand and it goes back to a personal connection brands can make with their audience - if your readers trust what you are saying brand loyalty will always remain high and long term engagement will stem from that.

With the polls changing every day, the outcome of the Election is far from clear. This period of uncertainty will no doubt mean that trust will grow in importance, putting relevant and entertaining content at the heart of the media battleground. Brands must remember that maintaining this level of content is the way to ensure that this battleground is won and they come top in the polls – time and time again, not just on May 7th.