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Fresh insights counter voter apathy

Posted on by Ivonne Hoeger |

ivonneHSometimes a short advert or article can really bring home the need to act in a way that no amount of lecturing or blanket coverage can.

While watching some re-runs of the Big Bang Theory this past weekend on E4 I noticed an interesting advert during the ad break…yes I am actually one of those people who pays attention to the adverts rather than leaving the room, and it usually just means that I can pay that little bit more attention to my knitting to check I didn’t make any mistakes, but I digress… So this advert came on the screen saying that E4 will go off air on 7th May, so that we’re not too distracted by the TV to turn up to vote. It essentially said that “since there is no telly to watch on the 7th you may as well go and vote”.

This advert got me listening. At first when I heard E4 would shut off its TV service to get more people to vote I thought this was a joke, but a quick google search revealed that, yes, they are really shutting off the service for most of the day while the polls are open on Thursday.

Then I had a look at the E4 website that was being advertised at the same time to see what this was all about, and this is where things got very interesting, well at least for me it got very interesting. When I got to the site the first thing I noticed was a button which says ‘show me the power of my vote’. All you have to do is type in your postcode and voila you get something like this…


The first thing I noticed was that the people who didn’t vote outnumber the people who voted for the winning party. That’s a very powerful bit of information.  Seeing the information in this context made me think, hang on a minute, if all of those people who didn’t vote in 2010 had done so, there may have been a different result. This got me thinking, as I realised that my vote does count and it can have a real impact. After having had a look around the site I have to say that I feel more engaged with it all and when I catch something about the election on TV I pay a bit more attention to what the parties are saying at the moment and I will think a bit more critically about where I’m going to put that cross on Thursday!

Engagement is an important issue for us researchers as well. Particularly with more and more research being conducted online. We constantly have to find new and different ways to get people engaged in our research and to stay interested long enough to get to the end of a survey. We have been using different visualisation and gamification techniques to improve response rates and to generate more considered responses. If you want to find out more about this, my colleague Chrissie Wells will be sharing some of the insights gained and lessons learned at the Market Research Summit on 20th May.

Audience engagement really matters, whether it’s politics, research or any other walk of life.  If you want to succeed in getting your message understood, you’ve got to shape it into something that easily resonates with the audience, in a style that the audience can appreciate. So thanks E4 for helping me understand how voting (or not) can have such an immediate and tangible effect. Now it’s back to the Big Bang Theory for me.

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