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Hedgehog Hall of Fame: Halton Housing Trust & Reason Digital - Welfare Reform

29th August 2013


Company: Halton Housing Trust & Reason Digital Campaign: Welfare Reform Infographic Category: Public Sector Campaign of the Year - North - Shortlisted Objective Universal Credit is currently being piloted across the country and will roll out in April 2013 in Cheshire and Greater Manchester. We needed to communicate the complexities of the Welfare Reform Bill to a diverse group of social housing tenants in Halton in an accessible way, making it easy to understand the impact of changes to their benefits. Strategy & Target Audience Our Chief Executive, Nick Atkin, considers welfare reform as the greatest challenge currently facing the housing sector, both in terms of the effect of the organisations ability to deliver services but also the social impact on people living in our homes. This presents a huge test for communications teams in order to deliver important messages to a wide audience. We wanted to go beyond traditional methods of leaflet drops, newsletters and roadshows to communicate this very important topic. Smartphone usage and social media such as Twitter and Facebook is at an all-time high and some people prefer to receive information online. Some tenants can't (or don't) read written information. We produced a straightforward animated video to communicate the main points of the Welfare Reform Bill and how it will affect social housing tenants in Halton. The video allows information to be communicated in bite-sized chunks. Action Reason Digital developed the original creative from a brief and script provided by the Trust. The graphics were designed in Adobe Illustrator and compiled in Adobe After Effects, where it was also synchronised with the audio track. The rendered video was saved out as a Flash video for upload to some sites and was also uploaded to YouTube in the newer H264 format to support mobile devices. The script was read by voice artist Emma Clarke, who provides the voice of London Underground's Bakerloo, District and Central lines and was most recently heard on the P&O sponsorship idents for ITV1's Downton Abbey. The video was uploaded to YouTube, to take advantage of the site's huge user base and to provide information for the growing number of people who use YouTube as a search engine and who prefer to watch videos for information rather than read web pages. The video was also embedded in the Trust's own website, so it could be directly accessed by our regular customers. Infographics are growing in popularity as a means of communicating complex information and due to their nature as self-contained units of information, can be easily shared and promoted on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. As government opens up data stores for public scrutiny, infographics will become the primary method of visualising and communicating this complex data and its relationships. Results The video has been viewed over 8,000 times on YouTube in 9 months. The video prompted an editorial piece and cover story in 24 Housing - the magazine for housing professionals. We've received expressions of interest from almost 50 other housing associations across the UK who want to adapt the video for their locality. It has gained interest beyond housing trusts and we've received enquiries from local authorities and Citizens Advice Bureaux. The video's backdrop has been modified for urban areas such as Tower Hamlets and the audio has been translated into other languages to make it more accessible to specific communities, including Bengali and Somali. It is fast becoming the preferred method of communicating welfare reform in an accessible way to the people most likely to be directly affected by the changes. The video has been burned onto DVDs for distribution to homes and has been downloaded onto iPads so that counselors making home visits can show the information to tenants in their own homes, even when they don't own a PC or have access to the Internet. Halton Housing developed an integrated communications plan centred around the video along with Reason Digital, including sending bespoke postcards to 1,100 tenants affected by the bedroom tax and wallet sized information sheets for front line employees. The graphical design on all printed media is consistent with the video infographic for consistency and has even informed the design and usability of the Trust's new website, due to launch in the new year. As an additional benefit, more than £15,000 has been raised so far for Halton Haven Hospice, the Trust's nominated charity, as a condition of licensing and adapting the video for use by other organisations. The hospice's fundraising manager, Ciaran Clotworthy, said: "This is such an innovative way of creating funds for the Hospice and once again we are grateful to the Trust for their support and tireless efforts to enable the hospice to continue to deliver our special kind of caring." The original video was shortlisted for a Chartered Institute of Marketing Excellence Award and Reason Digital were voted Best Small Agency at The Public Sector Communications Awards 2012 for their work on this video and similar social projects. URLs The original video www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsSgiggqDtY Various videos at www.flickr.com/photos/reasondigital/sets/72157631582046271/detail/ The PRmoment Golden Hedgehog Awards 2014 are now open for entries. Here are this years updated categories.

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